Huntington businesses look to past and future
June 9, 2016
Huntington businesses look to past and future
May Anne Gates | News-Sentinel
It could be said that some of the downtown Huntington businesses are a study in contrasts. It could also be said the entrepreneurial spirit is thriving in downtown Huntington.
For example, Antiqology looks to the past when selecting items to offer its customers, while MetroNet connects people through forward-looking fiber-optic technology. In another contrast, Nick’s Kitchen has been serving diners for over 100 years, while Turn The Page Books & More opened just a few weeks ago.
Antiqology moved to 401 N. Jefferson St. about three years ago after owners Rebecca and Adam Hanson renovated the building. Adam Hanson is a Huntington native. “We were looking for an opportunity to bring something new and exciting and fun downtown. We were looking for a way to connect with the community. So we just put some things together that we thought would go well together,” Rebecca Hanson said.
“We are most known for our craft soda selection. We have over 600 craft, glass-bottled sodas. These include a large variety of root beers, ginger beers, ginger ales, colas and cream sodas and some unique flavors, including prickly pear cactus soda and a dandelion and burdock soda,” she said.
Besides a large variety of sodas, Antiqology serves several flavors of award-winning hard-scooped ice cream, milkshakes and other ice- cream treats. Slices of pie are also available and come from Nick’s Kitchen across the street and just down the block.
Additionally, in a collaborative effort, Antiqology partnered with Nick’s Kitchen to create a peachy apple pie ice cream for their customers.
Businesses collaborating with each other seems to have its own rewards.
“We feel like everybody succeeds. We can recommend those places and they can recommend us and everybody is better off,” said Rebecca Hanson.
Antiqology also focuses on antiques and vintage items once found in the homes of a bygone era.
These nostalgic items include colorful Pyrex mixing bowls, a manual typewriter, a claw-foot bath tub, a wooden croquet set, a red Radio Flyer scooter and fat-tire Schwinn bicycles.
“We specialize in things for home décor more than things for the collector,” Rebecca Hanson said.
Antiqology also features a large display of new and vintage Fiestaware a colorfully glazed ceramic dinnerware.
“Eventually, we would like to have our own bottling line. We have other goals, but we just do a little at a time to move forward and keep going,” she said.
In contrast to offering a potpourri of sentimental items from the past, MetroNet, 438 N. Jefferson St., offers customers just three decidedly 21st-century products – phone, internet and TV services.
“MetroNet offers fiber-optic telecommunications solutions for both residential and commercial customers through the latest in fiber television technology, high-speed gigabit internet, and local and long distance phone service,” said Mindy Wingert in an email. Wingert is the MetroNet marketing manager.
“MetroNet is a local service provider with a local presence. We offer service within Huntington city limits and into the surrounding areas including north up to County Road 700 (over a mile from the city). Additionally, service extends about seven miles northeast into Roanoke and west going toward Wabash,” she wrote.
MetroNet features a kiosk in the store that lets passersby connect to the internet to see how fast and solid the internet service is, said Mark Wickersham, executive director of Huntington County Economic Development.
“We know that we partner best when community officials are enthusiastic about a new infrastructure and creating an enhanced quality of life for residents. Huntington is a vibrant market. With its strong local leadership and its forward-focus on technology, it’s proven to be a great fit for MetroNet’s services and company culture,” she wrote.
MetroNet is a success story, said Bryn Keplinger, director of community development and redevelopment for the city of Huntington.
In a nod to preserving the past, during renovations to the building MetroNet kept the original glass and wood exterior entrance door and repurposed it as an interior door, Wickersham said.
Currently, 14 MetroNet associates work in the northeast Indiana markets of Huntington and Wabash areas. That number includes our market-based managers and our local customer service associates and technicians, Wingert said.
An iconic presence in the downtown Huntington landscape is Nick’s Kitchen, 506 N. Jefferson St. The restaurant has been at the same location since 1908, said owner Jean Anne Bailey.
Besides the food, a nostalgic look at the history of the place in connection to the railroad and the Erie Canal still draws people to the diner.
“Today, people like the old-time diner-type places. It’s the nostalgia with all the railroad pictures on the wall … there is a lot of history here,” she said.
“We usually serve 140-160 people a day. On Saturday it’s double that,” Bailey said.
Additionally, Nick’s Kitchen does not suffer from a lack of recognition in media circles.
The Travel Channel has visited, as well as PBS, which featured it in “A Few Great Places for Pie,” Bailey said.
“Sugar cream pie is the state pie for Indiana and that brought (PBS) here. I make a sugar cream pie, and I have taught all my workers to make sugar cream pie,” she said.
Currently, Nick’s Kitchen employs about 10 people. Most of the employees are part-time with a couple of full-time people, she said.
Nick’s Kitchen is also well-known for its breaded pork tenderloin sandwich.
“It originated here. We made it here first in 1908. It is still very popular, and it is another reason people come here, Bailey said.
Burgers are also well-liked, and are now being paired with a variety of different cheeses, including cheddar, cheddar jack, pepper jack, provolone and sriracha jack cheeses.
Many of the items on the menu are grown close to home.
“We start with a lot of locally grown, locally sourced food products. We buy lettuce from Trenton Farms near Andrews. We buy our ground beef from Fresh Market in Fort Wayne. We also try to get breads from a local bakery,” Bailey said.
Other than new tabletops expected to be installed over the next few weeks the future of the popular eatery looks to mirror the past.
“I am really happy with the way things are now. We have recently painted and put up new light fixtures. We just want to make everything look fresh, clean and crisp,” Bailey said.
As for Bailey herself, who is 54 years old, she hopes to eventually decrease her current 60-hour workweek, she said.
Turn The Page Books & More
Newcomer Turn The Page Books & More, 445 N. Jefferson St., opened a few weeks ago after making renovations to the building.
While the store primarily features used books, new books written by local authors are also available. Currently, Doris Gaines Rapp, who has written several books occupies a prominent spot.
The impetus for opening Turn The Page Books & More came when Rex Frederick, who owns the building, and Renee Platt wanted to work together.
Additionally, Platt, who loves books, realized Huntington did not have a bookstore.
Finally, Frederick needed a way to combat boredom, so the only thing left to do was to open a used-book store.
“I have a lot of pride in the town, and I can’t see me doing it anywhere else,” said Frederick, 53, who was born and raised in Huntington and formerly owned Frederick’s Photography for many years.
Platt, 42, originally from Columbia City, manages the bookstore.
Besides books, the store carries jewelry, scarves, coffee mugs, incense, greeting cards and stuffed animals.
Despite having only recently opened, Frederick and Platt are already looking toward the future.
“We are going to dabble in the used record album business. We hear that’s making a comeback. So, we are looking to expand in that area, as well,” said Frederick.
“I thought about putting a sign on the door saying we take records, vinyl, LPs,” he said.
Albums from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, we hear that’s a growing thing,” said Frederick.
Plans for the record and album section are already under way.
“We have a little section now, and we sent out notices telling people we are interested in the albums they no longer want,” Frederick said.
If the people respond to a request for vinyl albums like they did for books the store should soon have plenty in stock.
“When we opened up it was incredible the amount of people that had books that they wanted to turn in for store credit or donate,” he said.
Besides albums, DVDs, reader glasses and tote bags may eventually find their way into the store, he said.
Additionally, expanding the store to the second floor, which has a larger retail space, is a possibility, said Frederick.
"There are other ideas we still have. That is why we added the ‘Books & More part’ because we wanted to leave it open for what would fit in nicely with used books. The main focus will be books, but I can see albums being a very close second at some point,” he said.