Repurposed Buildings – Travel to Indiana

By Julie Campbell

Indiana’s attractions find new life as restaurants, shopping malls and more

Once upon a time there was a John Deere farm equipment dealer who thrived in the tiny town of Fairmount. Fast forward to today, and the dealership has a new life as a popular destination restaurant, grains and grillalong with its sister brewery and pizzeria, Bad Dad Brewery. Instead of haystacks and seed shakers, restaurant booths and tables now fill the former showroom floor, where the chef serves gourmet mac ‘n’ cheese and juicy steaks instead of dishing up the latest farm news.

Owners Joanie and Barry Howard returned to their small town roots after moving to Florida and starting their family.

“Barry and I both grew up in Fairmount, and our parents grew up in Fairmount,” Joanie explained. “We wanted our children to have the same kind of childhood here as we did.”

In 2015, after 20 years as the owner of a successful car auction, Joanie was tempted to try the restaurant business. Now the whole family is involved in the day-to-day running of both the restaurant and brewery, including Howard’s two sons, Derek and Patrick, and their daughter-in-law, Sarah.

Grains & Grill Restaurant and Bad Dad Brewery
An old John Deere dealership in Fairmount is now home to the Grains & Grill restaurant and Bad Dad Brewery. PHOTO: Grains & Grill/Bad Dad Brewery

The brewery, which grew out of Barry’s homebrewing hobby to keep customers busy while they wait for a table at the restaurant, has grown by leaps and bounds.

“We have 16 taps of our beer and we are the largest homebrewery in Indiana with over 400 locations statewide,” Joanie said.

For Joanie, working with her family and serving her customers have been the greatest blessings she has had in leading the company.

“It’s so satisfying to know that people want to come and eat at your restaurant,” Joanie said. “One night we celebrated our 80th birthday and our 65th anniversary – people come to us to celebrate a milestone. And we feel really blessed that people want to do that.”

If a trip to the world-famous French Lick Resort is in your future, you’ll find another fascinating repurposed location. The Power Plant Bar & Grill was the former electrical switch room of the French Lick Springs Hotel. The focal point of the restaurant is a wall covered in large old electrical switches, some over a foot high. Labels from a bygone era still name each switch from the “main elevators” and “stream pump number 1” to the “dairy” and the “kitchen”. Don’t forget to try the restaurant’s famous bourbon buttercake for dessert while you’re there.

Denver Garage Fortville
Denver’s Garage in Fortville has become a popular eatery. PHOTO: Denver’s garage

Built in 1903 and designed by architect Harrison Albright Pump house Columbus is a landmark of design and experience. Today, after many incarnations, the Pump House displays its original architectural splendor while offering a well-designed yet relaxed local dining and craft beer experience. Overlooking the rushing Flatrock River and the famous Robert Stewart Bridge, it’s the perfect spot for a weekday lunch, an after-work beer or a relaxing weekend away.

The historical Barbecue Hotel and Restaurant in Warsaw was once a notorious gangster hangout for notorious gangsters like Al Capone, John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson who used the place as a hideout. The hotel was originally built in 1897 and initially called the Hotel Ormond. Today it’s a restaurant with some of the finest dining and entertainment, serving prime rib, steaks, walleye, ribs, seafood and pasta.

The Depot in Greenfield
Once a granary, The Depot in Greenfield is now a popular dining and drinking spot. PHOTO: Brigette Cook-Jones/Hancock County Tourism

Madison is new Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott The hotel building used to be a cotton mill built in 1884. Abandoned for decades, it reopened in July 2021 as an 85-room boutique hotel. The stunning renovation created breathtaking views of the Ohio River through custom windows designed as the building’s key feature.

Located in the historic, renovated Old Leesburg Mill, HopeLore Brewing Co. has won a gold medal at the World Beer Championships and a bronze medal at the Brewers Cup. The rustic, wooden interior of the giant green mill adds to the earthy, folksy nature HopeLore strives for in its beer.

built in 1906, The depot served the city of Greenfield as a granary until about 2003. After sitting vacant for nearly 20 years, Depot Street Investments bought the granary to avoid demolition by the City of Greenfield over concerns about its structural integrity. After a major renovation, The Depot is now a popular spot for drinks, burgers and more.

The Wabash Woolen Mill and Fiber Arts Center is housed in a former fiber factory. PHOTO: Wabash Woolen Mill and Fiber Arts Center

The renovation of historic Bloomington fountain square catapulted revitalization efforts in downtown Bloomington in the 1980s. This massive structure occupies about three quarters of a city block and is home to several art galleries and boutiques such as Andrew Davis, Ellie Mae’s Boutique, Mirth, O’Child Children’s Boutique and more. Its restored historic charm, inside and out, has made it a popular photography backdrop destination.

In a former fiber factory from the 1870s you will find Wabash Woolen Works and Fiber Arts Centerwhere you can buy yarn, take part in a workshop or watch artists create.

In Fort Wayne, the electrical works The campus dates back to the 1880s with the founding of the Fort Wayne Jenney Electric Company. General Electric acquired the company in 1898 and switched production from lighting to making electric motors. Today, Electric Works is a mixed-use destination, home to the area’s first food hall and public market.Union Street Market. Here you’ll find unique, independent vendors offering a diverse mix of local food and drink, prepared meals, desserts, specialties and much more.