‘We belong together’: Chapman’s Brewing Co. opens restaurant on the Electric Works campus

Electric Works has welcomed its first full-service restaurant. In Building 27, Chapman’s Brewing Co. is now brewing and serving up craft beers, alongside Indiana wines and tasty bites.

The exterior of Chapman's from Dynamo Alley.Chapman’s Founder Scott Fergusson says as they developed their concept for this location, they knew they wanted a reasonably priced menu and hours that defy the norm for Fort Wayne restaurants.

Fergusson says they recognize that it can be pretty expensive to eat out, which is why their beers are six dollars. At Chapman’s, he says guests should be able to order a beer and an entree for under $20.

“We want to be the place you come to regularly, not the place you just go on special occasions,” he says.

On the menu, guests will find typical brewery eats, like burgers, smoked meats, fries, cheese curds, and pretzels, but Chapman’s also features vegetarian and vegan options like a portobello mushroom burger, vegan fish and chips, and smoked cauliflower. 

“We've got to execute exceedingly well on what I would describe as standards,” Fergusson says. “You make a cheeseburger, yes, but we've got to make a cheeseburger extremely well. That doesn't mean we're going to top it with exotic ingredients and all these other things. It means we're going to use a really good cut of beef, really good cheese, really good bread, and prepare it right so that it tastes the way you expect it to and it surprises you too.”

Chapman’s Founder Scott Fergusson pointing our details inside the newly opened brewery.Tuesday through Thursday, Chapman’s is open from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays, they’re open from 11 a.m. until 1 a.m.

“Fort Wayne has gotten a little bit of a reputation of kind of closing up shop around 10 o'clock,” he says. “I just know that we go to a TinCaps game and it's like go home, go to bed, like, really? You go to a concert or whatever and you feel like being out a little later. Again, it's just something I think the city needs.”

The family-friendly brewery is a 15,000-square-foot space that features a dining room for up to 260 guests. The recently updated interior reveals hints to the building’s past– an unpainted ceiling that holds “100 years of history” to the steel beams that feature a style of riveting that hasn’t been common practice since the 1920s, Chapman’s Founder Scott Fergusson says they wanted to honor the history of their new home.

They also spotlight local artists throughout the restaurant via a new business venture from Fergusson called All Walls, which is run by Cornelia Schultz. There are over 110 pieces of art lining the walls at Chapman’s and it’s all for sale. Purchasing is as easy as scanning a QR code, buying, and taking it home.

“All of this local art is for sale and it benefits the artist directly,” he explains. “So you can see it, you can snap it with your phone and then buy it and take it home.”

Fergusson says visitors can expect the occasional special programming, like live music or a Munich-style Oktoberfest, and overall he wants people to feel like Chapman’s is approachable.

“We've had people approach us,” he explains. “They want to do all kinds of events. They want to do a Bible study. They want to do their board meetings. We have a group that wants to play D&D, you know, things like that. So during the week, it's like we're open. We want to be here for our friends and neighbors.”

Not only does this opening mark the campus’ first full-service restaurant, but it’s a special move for Chapman’s– a relocation of their headquarters.

Inside a cooler at Chapman's Brewing Co.“Electric Works is an innovative space– it's a space where people are manufacturing things so what we have to my right is the brewery itself,” Fergusson says gesturing to the 10-barrel brewery at the back of the restaurant, lined with tall windows so guests can witness the brewers in action. “So this is our new headquarters, this is where our Chapman’s is based.”

He says the new headquarters allows them to be creative with their product and introduce people to craft beer. He points out the brewery's new flight boards, designed and created by a local woodworking shop, which feature space for six samples and a corresponding chalkboard letting customers know exactly what beer they’re trying.

“Craft beer is all about that,” Fergusson says. “Just to see what you like.”

A flight from Chapman'sFergusson says he was inspired to start a brewery in 2011 after noticing a lack of craft beer options in Northeast Indiana. The name “Chapman's” is a nod to Johnny Appleseed.

“We decided to call it ‘Chapman’s’ after Johnny Appleseed because he came here and he spent the rest of his life here,” Fergusson explains. “This was home to him. He liked where he was, but that's us– we wanted to be here too.”

Chapman’s also has a smaller, full-service location in Columbia City, which is where Fergusson grew up.

Plans for their Electric Works locations have been in the works since 2021. They broke ground in February of 2023, so Fergusson says the opening feels as if it has been a long time coming.
“Ordered the equipment in November of ‘21 and it took months and months for it to even get here, right?” he says. “So yeah, it was one of those things where I almost can't believe I'm sitting here now because it's like there's just so many things that have happened between then and now to make this thing what it is.”

Fergusson describes the opening week as both terrifying and exciting, but he says calling Electric Works home for Chapman’s just feels right.

“Just working with the Electric Works development team was, okay, we could build a restaurant and that would be great,” he says. “This is a part of town that would love to have a great sit-down place, but really manufacturing is what we're after here at the Electric Works Campus– really bringing something innovative. We think it just so happens that really cool older industrial buildings and breweries just kind of go hand in hand. It just feels like we belong together.”

For updates on Chapman’s Brewing Co., follow them on Instagram.

For updates on Electric Works, follow them on Instagram.
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Read more articles by Brittany Smith.

Brittany Smith is Input Fort Wayne's Managing Editor. Previously she served as Assistant Editor and participated in the College Input Program. She also volunteers for Northeast Indiana Public Radio.