UP CLOSE WITH JEANIE By Jeanie Summerville
Whatz up, babies?
Check this out! Over the years, by the grace of GOD, I’ve had the pleasure of dining at some of the finest restaurants from here to there. But, never have I witnessed a venue, that is owned by an African American, here in our fair city that has this kind of food on it’s menu and I‘m loving it. I’m so excited about this restaurant that I’m just bursting with enthusiasm to finish this spotlight so I can feast upon this beautiful food that you see in the photo. But, I’ll restrain myself just for you by simply turning my head so I can finish okay? Okay, and on that note, they have an elegant atmosphere for dining and partying, which consist of white table cloths on all tables and a vase centerpiece with a single white rose. Now in saying that, all I’d like for you to do is sit back, relax and enjoy. Or, stand and jump and shout if you want to! You can do that because like in one of James Brown’s songs that went something like this, I’ve got something that makes you want to shout (music) dum dum dum dum I’ve got something to tell you what it’s all about and this is what the owner has to say.
“Hello there, Frost Illustrated readers. My name is Terrance Hurd and I’m the owner of Tycoon’s Cabaret and Grill that’s located at 2650 S. Coliseum Blvd., across from the Harvester Tower, here in Fort Wayne, Ind. This is a place were friends gather for good food, good entertainment and live music. Actually, I’ve been working on this project for two years, ever since I first purchased the property because it needed a lot of work and I’m happy to say we’ve been open now for almost two months and I’m loving it.
“I’m originally from Wisconsin and when I was younger my parents moved here with the GM family in 1986 and I went to school here and graduated from Paul Harding High School. I always wanted a business one day so I went to IPFW College to get my degree in business from Indiana School of Business and this place was a perfect fit for the price that I got the properties for. In the past, I use to come here when it had others names including Benson’s and I always thought that this is a good location and if I could have this spot what I’d do with it. Then the building was shut down for five years so when it went up for auction I put in my bid and won. So now, I have my chance and we’re making it happen.
“This is my first club and restaurant, however, my thing has always been entertainment and live music. I’ve always promoted music because music has always been a part of my life since the third or fourth grade when I was introduced to the violin. I gave this establishment the name Tycoon’s Cabaret and Grill because I always quote the lyrics from one of my favorite artist that says, ‘Ever since the womb I’ve been a tycoon’ and the cabaret and grill part came to me because when I go to visit my family in Detroit and when they throw a party it’s not just a party, it’s a cabaret. Which means, there’s going to be live entertainment such as dancing, singing, acting and we have a lot of fun while being entertained, eating good food and socializing and so that’s what I’m doing here. Being around my family and the way we work it, it just comes naturally. So here at Tycoon’s, that’s what you’re going to get, live entertainment from R&B bands, some national, some regional and some local. Our Grand Opening night starred Chico DeBarge and since then we’d had Ty Causey, Rickey Bratton Band and many more.
“Now, to talk about our food with our signatures: We wanted to bring something different and upscale especially here to the south side because food options are minimal, as far as, black-owned restaurants. So we bring to the south side some breaded, fried frog legs, alligator nuggets, that are both shipped here from Louisiana and everyone that has tried them loves them and I’m sure you will love them too. All you have to do is dip them into our signature barbeque sauce that one of my friends, who’s also from Wisconsin, Brent Tisdale Sr., created and enjoy. We also have Surf and Turf, shrimp cocktail, shrimp and crab cakes, calamari fries, a variety of fish, wings, our Juicy Lucy Burger and much more. We also have daily specials such as lasagna with garlic bread, BBQ pork chops with sides, oxtails, rice and gravy with corn bread and a side salad plus many more specials and Desserts. Also, some of our breakfast items include shrimp with grits and chicken with waffles.
“Our business hours are Mondays from 6 p.m. to midnight, Tuesdays 4 p.m. to midnight, Wednesdays through Sundays 12 p.m. to 3 a.m., and our phone number is (260) 420-4308. With our hours, we basically concentrate on the lunch and dinner side of everything but we still serve breakfast all day long.
“Tycoon’s is a pretty calm laid back place for the older crowd. You can be 21 years old and get in but it’s mostly for 26 and up that we’re shooting for. But, if some mature young ones want to come in, that know how to act, then they’re more than welcome. We have Old School Sundays here and we reach back and pull the music from the ’70s and ’80s and some from the ’60s too. Karaoke is on Thursdays and Sundays from 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., live bands on Fridays and Saturdays from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m., and we also have a DJ.
“All together were a team of 12 here which also include our security team because we want to give the people some place safe to come to. We haven’t had any drama here such as shoot outs, stabbings or fighting and we want to keep it that way. The layout that we have here is very nice but to me it’s standard because I want to take it up like the clubs in New York, Chicago and Miami. When I was in New York at the clubs I saw that they were going to the white theme so that’s the idea that I brought back here for this club. So, come on out.”
Now it’s time to bring the chefs to you and this is what head chef, Quintin Wooten, has to say.
“Hello, Frost readers. I grew up here in Fort Wayne and I’m a graduate of South Side High School and I’ve been working here at Tycoon’s since opening day but we worked on the menu for one year prior to that. The reason I’m able to prepare the type of foods that I do is because I’ve been all around the world since I joined the military straight out of high school and I went to culinary arts school through the military, that started it all. Then I went to Community College of the Air Force for Hotel/Restaurant Management and I’ve been in management and cooking ever since then and that’s really all I’ve ever done and I love it. I also love working here at Tycoon’s because we have the freedom to be creative with the menu unlike chefs that work at other restaurants.”
“Hello, Frost Illustrated readers. My name is Chef Thomas Lacey and I started four days after they opened and I’m the sous chef under Chef Q. Which means that I’m his assistant and I do everything that he doesn’t want to do. I graduated from culinary arts school too which included baking and pastries so I have a degree in both and I’ve been cooking for years and in management. I worked in Jackson, Tenn., doing some cooking and then I came back to Fort Wayne and was the head chef at a country club and numerous other restaurants. So when I found that the owner, Terrance, who I’ve know for like 20 years was opening up an upscale soul food restaurant I came to join his team. Because that’s something that I wanted to see happen and I wanted to be a part of it. And, ever since I’ve been doing my thing here because I love to cook. I enjoy working here and making the food look pretty because presentation is a must and here we strive on good quality food and food that looks good and a good atmosphere. Me and Q cater to our customers and they’re always first because they are always important.”
“Hello, Frost Illustrated readers. My name is Amber Ganaway and I’m the bar manager and head bartender and I was hired here a year before we opened because there was a lot of planning that went into making Tycoon’s what it is today. Terrance had to rebuilt the whole thing and I love my job here. I’ve been back in Fort Wayne since 2010 and I’ve bartended at several places but this has been my head position and I love it. Come out and we have events everyday of the week, good drinks and food.”
“Hey, Frost, my name is Terry Williams and I’m a loyal customer here because I like the good pleasant atmosphere, good food and good people. I recommend Tycoon’s because to me it’s five-star. And, my name is Smooth and I’ve been here since the beginning to help get things ready from the ground up for about two years and even though some people thought it would take four to five years it only took two so come and check us out.”
Now in closing I say, great job everybody! And, thank you, Terrance, for bringing something different to the south side of town. And, I’d like to thank all of you for showing me a great time while I was there, I had fun and to the chef’s, the food was delicious and my taste buds enjoyed every minute of it. So until next week, you’ve been Up Close with Jeanie. Bye, bye babies.
P.S. If you would like The Spotlight shined upon you or someone that you know, all in the name of love, just send me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from ya.
P.P.S. I’d also like to thank all of you who have been sending me e-mails to give me some feed back on our journey. Keep up the good work and to those who haven’t please feel free to do so because I’d love to hear from you too.
This article originally appeared in the June 5, 2013 print edition.