April 1, 2023

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Franciscan Health Hospital in Michigan City is shown.
Families can now work out together to reach their fitness goals in Michigan City.
Franciscan Health launched the new FIT-Together program for households with children between the ages of 8 and 14.
The eight-week-long class will take place from 4-5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Michigan City YMCA at 1202 Spring St.
The free program will kick off on Aug. 16 and run through Oct. 4.
“The FIT-Together program addresses the well-being of every participating family member — children, siblings, parents or parental figures — by exploring healthy choices in activities, relationships and emotional health,” Franciscan Health said in a press release. “Sessions will include physical activities as a fun way to improve stress management, effective communication, problem solving and connection. Cooking demonstrations will also take place, featuring healthy meal prep by personal chef Kia Can Cook. Families will receive food boxes so they can then prepare the meal at home.”
Participants in the program will learn about the seven Cs of family resilience, including control, competence, coping, confidence, connection, character and contribution.
Though the program is free, registration is required.
Participants should wear gym shoes and comfortable clothes.
To register, contact Nila Williams at Nila.Williams@franciscanalliance.org or by calling 219-413-8525.
A transplant from Austin brought authentic Texas-style barbecue to the Region.
Hammond native Nick Kleutsch moved down to Austin with musical aspirations. When his band broke up, he knew he’d be returning to the Region.
Kleutsch thought about what he would bring back home to Northwest Indiana and considered what people would ask him about his time in the Lone Star State.
The answer was immediately obvious: barbecue.
“I thought about what I could start picking up,” he said. “I started diving deep into Texas Monthly’s ‘Top 50 Barbecue,’ which is a big deal — they only come out with the list every four years. Being one of the top few places out of 400 or 500 restaurants is a huge deal.”
Kleutsch sought apprenticeships at some of the most acclaimed barbecue joints in central Texas. He ended up learning from Evan LeRoy of LeRoy and Lewis, a Texas Monthly Top 10 BBQ restaurant, and Ben Lambert, formerly of the acclaimed Franklin’s BBQ that people wait hours in line to get a table at, and now the owner of JNL BBQ.
“I started asking those guys if they had jobs, saying I would work for free so long as I could learn from you,” he said. “I got some shifts and learned to cook from them.”
He came back and opened Lucy’s BBQ inside Brewfest at 8347 Kennedy Ave. in Highland.
“I thought about starting a food truck,” he said. “I had been going to Brewfest for years and knew they had a kitchen they weren’t utilizing. I could use it to  serve food, to put a barbecue restaurant in there.”
Lucy’s BBQ currently offers three sandwiches: brisket, pulled pork and a half-pound smoked prime cheeseburger made from trim from the brisket. It also has pork spare ribs that use craft beer to create a barbecue sauce that’s used as a glaze.
“Most places in NWI use a gas-assist cooker,” he said. “We keep it Texas traditional with a 500-gallon all-wood offset smoker. I spend 12 to 15 hours a day feeding the smoker by hand, which creates a product that can never be replicated by an automated system.”
It’s what he learned in Texas.
“Central Texas is a mecca for barbecue,” Kleutsch said. “The type of smoker used there is an old propane tank fed by all wood. A lot of the places out here people rave about use gas-assist smokers, where you press a button and the smoker does all the work. I load a log every 45 minutes. It’s just me and the smoker and the meat. That’s how you get moist ribs if you want it to fall off the bone a little bit. You just need some oak. White oak is really prevalent around here. Barbecue is about using what you’ve got.”
He’s passionate about barbecue.
“It still feels like I’ve got my friends and family in the backyard and I’m cooking for them,” he said. “It doesn’t feel like a restaurant. It feels like I’m barbecuing in the backyard and the food itself is an experience that I’m with people.”
He seasons the meat with just salt, pepper and smoke.
“Fire has been used for thousands of years,” he said. “Salt is a preservative. Pepper keeps off pests. You ensure the fire burns through storm, wind and rain. You keep feeding it logs until tomorrow. There’s no way to miss with a brisket. It’s nature.”
He makes different barbecue sauces like a mustard, a tangy Carolina-style and a rotating barbecue sauce infused with a beer on draft, such as vanilla porter, a peach cider or a stout.
“It’s a bar so we’re focusing on finger food, ribs, things like that,” he said. “This isn’t a pricey barbecue joint.”
He’s looking to add sides such as coleslaw and mac and cheese.
“There’s so many barbecue joints in Texas where the meats are all the same, with salt, pepper and oak wood,” he said. “I think it’s gotten to where the sauces and sides are where to shine and differentiate yourself from the next place.”
He grew up eating Region barbecue like Big Daddy’s, Deon’s BBQ and Bombers.
“All of that stuff was good,” he said. “When I went to Texas, everyone was so crazy about barbecue. I didn’t know what they were ranting and raving about. But once I tasted it, it changed my mind. I was fortunate enough to travel to Texas. Northwest Indiana has the hardest working people in the country, steelworkers and union guys. When they go on vacation, they’re not going to go to Texas. They’re going to go relax on a beach. I want to give them the good feeling of Texas-style barbecue.”
He’s interested in eventually opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant of his own.
“I just want people to be able to enjoy this stuff. I’m not looking to get rich off food,” he said. “If you want Texas barbecue in the Region, we’ve got the real deal. People seem to enjoy it.”
Lucy’s BBQ is open from 5 p.m. until sold out Thursday through Saturday. People can call ahead orders for pickup.
For more information, find the business on Facebook or Instagram or call Brewfest at 219-513-8203.
Nekter Juice Bar is pouring cold-pressed juices and other healthy fare in Valparaiso.
The juicery opened at 2502 Calumet Ave. in Valparaiso, next to Teriyaki Madness and Little Caesars. It specializes in handcrafted juices, smoothies, acai bowls and shots like ginger, elderberry or turmeric. It also offers three-day Nekter Cleanses with pre-packaged bottles of juice that are packed with vitamins, minerals and living enzymes.
“Everything is made from fresh produce and fresh fruits and vegetables,” District Manager Sarah Watson said. “We use ingredients like celery, apples, ginger, spinach and lemons. It’s fresh fruit and vegetables that taste good.”
It’s a California-based chain with more than 200 locations across the country. The closest one is in Barrington.
“It’s a growing brand,” she said. “It was the first to do acai bowls. We like Valparaiso because it’s a really good location. There are a lot of parks and people out walking. It’s busy in the mid-morning when people are going to the gym and coming in or stopping on their way to work.”
Nekter Juice Bar offers different juices meant to boost immunity or metabolism. The signature Greenie, for instance, blends parsley, spinach, kale, celery, cucumber, lemon and red apple.
“They’re low in calories and sugar,” Watson said. “You can add proteins. It caters toward people who are trying to eat healthy or have certain dietary restrictions like that it has to be low in sugar. There are a lot of options for people who are on a weight loss journey, are putting their health first or who have a certain diet.”
It also has seasonal specials like the watermelon sorbet bowl that blends watermelon, strawberry, pineapple and hemp hearts.
The business focuses on the walk-in business but has a few tables for dining in. It has table games and chess boards for anyone who wants to hang out.
“We have an app and a rewards program,” Watson said. “We’re trying to encourage the app. But we have a cool vibe. It’s definitely laid back and chill. You can grab and go or sit and play games.”
Growth may be in the future.
“We’re a franchise location,” Watson said. “If this one does good, they want to open another one, possibly in Munster, Griffith or Highland. They want to grow the local franchise and open more shops.”
Nekter Juice Bar is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.
For more information, call 219-242-8016 or find the business on Instagram or Facebook.
The Original Steaks & Hoagies is bringing authentic Philly-style cheesesteaks and subs to Crown Point.
The fast-food restaurant chain plans to open soon at 134 E. 109th Ave. in the booming Beacon Hill development.
It specializes in hoagies made with Amoroso rolls, Dietz and Watson meats straight out of Philadelphia, peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, onion, oil and oregano. The Philly cheese steaks are made to order with your choice of Provolone cheese, American cheese or Cheez Whiz.
For more information, visit www.steaksandhoagies.com.
If you would like your business to be included in a future column, email joseph.pete@nwi.com.
NWI Business Ins and Outs: Bombers BBQ, True BBQ and Great Greek Mediterranean Grill opening; Port of Peri Peri closed

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Business Reporter
Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.
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