» Hoagies & Hops (414 N. Dorman St., 317-296-8430) wants you to be well-fed at the track this weekend, Indy 500 fans. Pennsylvania transplant (and hoagie aficionado) Kristina Mazza’s Dorman Street biz brings the best of Pennsylvania Dutch country foods to Hoosiers, and she’ll pack a lunch for four for $30 to ward off race-day hunger pangs. The “fill your track” special includes an 18-inch hoagie (with meat and fixings on the side), potato chips, pickles, and homemade peanut brittle. Order by May 25.
» Indianapolis food lovers were shocked to wake up last Thursday to the news that LongBranch (2205 N. Delaware St.) is closed permanently. The Asian-themed restaurant, one of IM‘s Top Ten New Restaurants of the Year, opened six months ago to great fanfare, just down the street from its sister restaurant, Shoefly Public House (122 E. 22nd St., 317-283-5007). No reason was given for the closure in the announcement on the restaurant’s Facebook page. Co-owner Craig Mariutto told us in an email that, “It was a very hard decision, but we feel it was our only choice.” According to Mariutto, Shoefly is doing fine and will continue operations.
» In other heartbreaking news: Evansville-based Tin Man Brewing Company announced the closing of its tasting room (1430 W. Franklin St., Evansville) last week on Facebook, effective immediately. The post said the demands of running the restaurant and tasting room were a drain on the brewing operation, which will continue.
» On our radar this week: No Label at the Table Food Co. This new, locally owned bakery provides employment opportunities and job training for people on the autism spectrum. You can find its tasty gluten-free, dairy-free cookies, brownies, cupcakes, and other sweet treats all summer at the Carmel Farmers Market and Fishers Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. Owner Shelly Henley, whose oldest son has autism and dreams of being a chef in a restaurant, hopes the markets are a first step toward a brick-and-mortar location, which will provide even more opportunities for aspiring bakers and sales people.
» The Ben’s Soft Pretzels empire is growing. The Elkhart-based business recently opened its 84th location, this time at the Meijer in Southport (5325 E. Southport Rd., 317-527-1654). They’re giving away free jumbo soft pretzels during this Thursday’s grand opening, 1–7 p.m.