FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) – It's like sitting on your back porch without having to do the cooking or the dishes. Other than baseball, outdoor dining is probably one of America’s favorite past times, but it seems it's becoming more popular as the years go by.
Atmosphere, atmosphere, atmosphere. That’s the main reason people say they love outdoor dining.
"I love the outside. I love the fresh air. It is just fun!" said Marge Seely, who claims to eat at The Deck at least three times a week.
There’s no better word than “fun” to describe The Deck in downtown Fort Wayne, right along the Saint Mary's River.
"It's nice to have an outdoor establishment to go to, especially on the river, actually utilizing the river,” said Thad Gerardot.
"There's other places in Fort Wayne, but not along the river,” exclaimed Sharon Boyle.
"I can't believe this is downtown Fort Wayne,” said Kathy Orzechowicz about The Deck.
The Deck is easily one of the most popular summertime restaurants downtown, but it hasn't always been that way, according to Hall’s Gas House General Manager Ben Hall.
"It wasn't nearly as busy as it is today. For several years we'd run it with two, maybe three people,” he said.
And now almost a decade since opening, "[It’s an] Hour wait...two hour wait...two and half hour wait at 6 o'clock on a Wednesday night. People just like to hang around,” said Hall.
And while you're hanging around, Hall says they offer carriage rides, boat rides, and of course plenty of drinks.
"Maybe it reminds you of your favorite place in Florida or something like that,” he said of the ambiance of his restaurant.
But whether you're eating with family, or getting a bucket of beers with the guys Hall says there's really only one secret to their success: "I think we do a decent job with a hamburger and a beer, but that's not what they're coming for exclusively. They want to sit around. They're going to have a couple of drinks. They're going to relax. They're going to visit with people that they work with, their family, or whoever. So that just contributes,” he said.
"The outdoor scenery is just wonderful, the ambiance. I'm almost going to cry because this is so wonderful,” said Jim Sharp, a first-time visitor from Bowling Green, Ohio.
Hall says The Deck will be open through the end of September.
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