Crown Point Records and Chipotle opening; Sip, Red

A new record shop is going for a nostalgic spin in downtown Crown Point.

Crown Point Records is planning to open in early May at 112 N. Main St. near the Old Lake County Courthouse square. The vinyl record shop is taking over the former Fairway Mortgage space.

It’s the brainchild of Tom and Megan Waddell, who own the Crown Point Toys and Collectibles Shop across the street. They plan on running the record shop with their daughter Addison.

“It’s going to have records both new and used, vinyl, rock T-shirts and patches,” Tom Waddell said.

Crown Point Records will stock all genres of music, including rock, punk, metal, hip hop, classic rock and alternative rock.

“I’m a big fan of heavy metal, so we’ll have a good selection of that,” Waddell said. “It will be a learning curve. We’ll have what people want.”

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For instance, he’s now looking at stocking some CDs as people have requested it on social media.

Waddell grew up going to iconic record stores like Hegewisch Records and Record Swap in Homewood. He’s continued to collect records, leading his wife Megan to suggest he open a store.

“People like to recreate that feeling with physical media,” he said. “I grew up with physical copies of things and it brings back that nostalgia.”

Crown Point Records will join Antique Vault & Records in the Courthouse Shops as the second record store in downtown Crown Point, making it a potential destination where record collectors can hit up more than one shop in search of new or rare tunes. 

“We’re on a busy part of the square,” Waddell said. “The facade is very inviting. It’s by busy restaurants that get a lot of foot traffic. There’s a lot of walking traffic and I expect great traffic when people are out shopping on Saturdays and Sundays.”

While streaming services like Spotify, iTunes and Pandora have conquered the music industry, vinyl records have surged in popularity, surpassing CDs as the preferred physical medium. People bought $1.2 billion worth of records last year, a 20% increase.

“Some people with a more fine-tuned ear say the sound is better. But I think people like to have a physical copy where they can look at the footnotes,” he said. “I’ve always been a collector where with baseball cards, toys or comic books. I have the collecting spirit and so do a lot of people.”

The 2,000-square-foot shop will stock about 15,000 records at any given time. It will buy collections to frequently update its inventory. 

“This is going to be a family atmosphere with an old school record shop feel,” he said. “It’s going to feel organized, clean and professional. It’s not going to be a flea market-type record shop. I run the toy store and that’s very well kept.”

Crown Point Records will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Monday and be closed on Tuesday.

For more information, find the business on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.


Crown Point Toys & Collectibles has taken off since opening at 103 N. Main St. in downtown Crown Point in 2020.

The retro toy shop sells classic toys and collectibles, like Marvel, Star Wars, He-Man and G.I. Joe. Catering to adult collectors as much as kids, it has a wide selection of vintage 1980s toys and the popular Funko Pops!

It’s already looking to expand in a larger location about a half-mile north.

“We’ve outgrown the space,” owner Tom Waddell said. “We’ll be able to carry more products with a larger back area. We’ll be able to expand our Funko Pop! selection, comic books and video games. Everything will be more organized. It also will have its own parking so people won’t have to find street parking.”

Waddell said it would likely move to a larger space later this year.


Chipotle moved out of the Southlake Mall to a new location on the other side of U.S. 30 where it now has a drive-thru where people can pick up online orders, such as the new Chicken al Pastor.

The popular quick-serve Mexican restaurant that’s spawned a million imitators in the fast-casual space opened its new location Tuesday at 2831 E. 80th that it’s billing as “the first Chipotlane in Hobart.” 

“The restaurant will feature the brand’s signature Chipotlane, a drive-thru pickup lane that allows guests to conveniently pick up digital orders without leaving their cars,” spokesperson Annie Gradinger said.

The burrito and burrito bowl restaurant known for customizing orders with fresh, natural ingredients long shared a Southlake Mall outlot with Potbelly Sandwich Shop. It hopped across the street to the Crossings at Hobart outdoor shopping center, where it took over the site of the former Don Pablo’s restaurant next to Chuck E. Cheese.

The newly constructed 2,333-square-foot restaurant cost $523,462 to build, according to the Hobart Building Department.

Gradinger said the restaurant would likely employ around 25 workers and is hiring. The company offers benefits like a debt-free college degree program and access to mental health care.

The Chipotle will be open daily from 10:45 a.m. to 10 p.m.


Red Nar Mediterranean Grill shuttered in a strip mall just across the street from the Southlake Mall. 

The quick-serve restaurant serving shawarma, kabobs, falafel, baba ghanoush, hummus and baklava was located a newer strip mall at in at 8180 Mississippi St. in Merrillville, across the street from the Kohl’s at Southlake Mall.

It’s the second restaurant to closed in that 2,150-square-foot space in the last few years. Rapid Fired Pizza, a quick-serve pizza place similar to Blaze or MOD, opened in 2020 there and closed in 2021. Red Nar took over in 2021 and did not have any more luck.

The strip mall’s other tenants, the sandwich shop Jimmy John’s and the smoothie joint Smoothie King, have persevered during the musical chairs in the third storefront on the north end of the strip mall.


A once-bustling Mexican restaurant in a prominent spot on the south end of downtown Griffith is no more.

Mi Maria Bonita at 216 S. Broad St. closed after just a few years. It opened in 2020 in the former Asada Grill & Cantina space in Griffith before that Mexican restaurant moved to the former Zuni’s House of Pizza spot on 45th Street in Highland in 2018.

It specialized in traditional Mexican fare like fajitas, carne asada, chile rellenos, alambre and pollo con mole.

The space on the busy stretch of Broad Street was long home to Niko’s Steak and Seafood, a beloved longtime institution known for its choice cuts of beef and carrot cake that closed in 2014. It’s a 120-seat space with family dining and a bar just south of the railroad tracks at the terminus of downtown Griffith where commercial storefronts give way to houses flanking Broad Street.


Sip Coffee House and Artisan Cafe has expanded throughout the Region in recent years and now has coffee shops in Crown Point, Highland, Munster and Hobart.

It recently took over The Librarium in downtown Hobart and more than doubled its space in downtown Highland, where it’s a popular hangout spot.

But it’s scaling back and closing one of its locations, a coffee shop on the lakefront in Cedar Lake.

“It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing the closing of our Cedar Lake Sip location,” owner Rhonda Block posted. “As many of you know, my husband recently passed away on Christmas day. Since then, I’ve continued to deal with even more medical issues within the family and it has been very hard to give the attention needed to every Sip location. We’ve really tried to keep the Cedar Lake location open, but unfortunately we do not receive enough business there for it to make sense financially, especially at this time. I am not closing this location simply because I want to — I feel as though I have no choice.”

Sip opened the coffee shop at 13133 Lake Shore Drive in 2020. Like the other Sip locations, it had a full espresso bar, gourmet sandwiches and local art on the walls. 

Sip plans to hold onto the space until the lease runs out.

“The reason we will continue using the kitchen and renting out the space for special events for the immediate future is because we are under a lease with the building,” Bloch posted. “I assure you that as soon as the lease ends, the space will be available for another business to move in. Until then, we will continue using the kitchen to bake and rent out the space for events. We will keep this page updated when we know more about how long that will go on. We’re simply just unable to run a fully staffed and stocked cafe during this time.”

Sip originally opened in Cedar Lake because so many people in the booming community in south Lake County frequented its cafe in downtown Crown Point. Bloch said she wouldn’t rule out a return to Cedar Lake in the future.

“I truly appreciate everyone who has come by and supported this location over the last few years. We really have enjoyed serving the community of Cedar Lake,” Bloch said. “Once things settle down, I hope to be able to open another location. In the meantime, I hope to still see you all in Hobart, Highland, or Crown Point. Thank you for your understanding.”

Take the cannoli

Francis Ford Coppola directed some of the most acclaimed movies of all-time, including “Apocalypse Now,” “The Conversation,” “The Godfather,” “The Godfather Part II” and “The Godfather Part III.” (Okay maybe scratch that last one.)

He won an Oscar for the screenplay to “Patton.” He’s won Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Palmes d’Or and a BAFTA.

Now he’s curating a Director’s Cut Wine Dinner at Carrabba’s in Schererville and nationwide.

The chain, which has a restaurant at 49 U.S. 41 in Shops on Main, is offering a four-course wine dinner experience at 6:30 p.m. May 9 pairing Focaccia Primavera, Spinach Salad with Seared Scallops, Tuscan-Grilled Filet with Shrimp Scampi and Sogno Di Cioccolata “Chocolate Dream” with Mini Cannoli paired with wines from his winery.

So you can take the cannoli, like the guy said in one of the most quoted movies of all time.

If you would like your business to be included in a future column, email joseph.pete@nwi.com.

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