Calhoun Street Soups, Salads, and Spirits: Summer food series

With Hospitality Administration as a flagship program, it’s only natural that our alumni and staff would find themselves at some of the area’s favorite food establishments. This summer, we introduce you to some.

Who: Donna Kessler, owner/manager at Calhoun Street Soups, Salads, and Spirits (1915 S. Calhoun St., Fort Wayne) and hospitality administration alumna

How: “(My sister) and I were talking about starting a bed and breakfast. I decided in my 30s that I would just go ahead and go to culinary school,” Kessler says. “While I was doing that, the man who owns the building that I’m in didn’t know what to do with it. Together, we came up with what you have now. He wanted to move faster than I could with school,” so Kessler never finished her associate degree. The restaurant, often called CS3, opened in December 2007.

Clockwise from top left: hot ham and swiss on rye special; taco salad special; cheesy potato soup; chocolate chip cupcakes; grilled prime rib special (photos from CS3's Instagram and Facebook feeds)
Clockwise from top left: hot ham and swiss on rye special; taco salad special; cheesy potato soup; chocolate chip cupcakes; grilled prime rib special (photos from CS3’s Instagram and Facebook feeds)

What: I’ve been to CS3 for lunch, dinner, and a midnight snack. I’ve attended a Valentine’s Day concert; a Hellzapoppin show, which is a circus side show review featuring fire-eaters and glass-walkers; and a memorial event. So how would Kessler describe the restaurant to someone who’s never been?

“I would describe it as a very eclectic, historic space that features healthy, American food,” Kessler says. “It is known as a restaurant. It’s known as a bar. It’s known as a music venue. We can be a bar but then that wastes your day time, so we need to take advantage of the downtown lunch crowd and take advantage of the evening downtown crowd. The Tiger Room (lets us host) business parties, and caterings, and weddings, and shows, and plays, and comedians. The age ranges from children to great grandparents and everything in between, and you’ll see them here at any given time during the day.”

salad bar
I stopped by CS3 for lunch Monday, and it was easily one of the freshest salad bars I’d seen in a while. Though it’s just a single bar, the options are vast–cold and crisp shredded carrots; slices of onion, mushrooms, and cucumber; fresh chopped fruit, eggs, broccoli and cauliflower; heirloom tomatoes; olives; and more.

Why the “Tiger Room”?: “Ever see the movie ‘The Rocker’ with Rainn Wilson from ‘The Office’? There’s one scene where the band gets a gig, and it’s playing the Tiger Room in Fort Wayne, Ind. There is no such thing. They made it up,” Kessler says. “After that movie came out, we started doing shows, and all the bands started calling us the Tiger Room.”

Try: Regulars swear by the mac and cheese, and the most popular main-dish item is the egg salad BLT, Kessler says. Beverage-wise, it’s the craft beers, which rotate through CS3’s 16 taps.

CS3 on the web | Facebook | Instagram

We’ve got some restaurants, bakeries, and food trucks lined up for this summer series, but if you know of any Ivy Tech Northeast connection to your favorite eatery, let me know! Email me at

2 thoughts on “Calhoun Street Soups, Salads, and Spirits: Summer food series

  1. You should also interview Michelle Aschliman, Manager and Pastry Chef at Central City Café, Downtown. She is a graduate of the Pastry Arts program.

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