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NWI Business Ins and Outs: Rocket Fizz, Code Ninjas, jerk restaurant, Esporta Fitness opening; Round the Clock closed
Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop is barreling into Valparaiso like a kid amped up on a sugar high.
The candy store plans to open in late May at 157 W. Lincolnway in Valparaiso. It will offer “hundreds of cane sugar bottled sodas as well as nostalgic, trendy and worldwide candies” and “a variety of gifts and gift baskets to suit many occasions and tons of themes.”
The chain focuses on specialty candy, novelty items and uniquely flavored pop, including from its own line that includes varieties like black licorice, blue cream, bubble gum, green apple jalapeno, marshmallow, s’mores and watermelon.
Rocket Fizz carries craft soda with unorthodox flavors like bacon, bacon with maple syrup, buffalo wing, cucumber, pickle, sweet corn and ranch dressing. It has butter soda, Death Valley Root Beer and Martian Poop pop.
It typically offers hundreds of flavors, a panoply of options that Indianapolis Monthly once described as “overwhelming.”
Rocket Fizz is also a place where one can find rare candies, including those that peaked in popularity in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
The chain has a smattering of locations in suburban Chicago and Indiana but the Valparaiso store will be its first in Northwest Indiana.
The new coding school Code Ninjas, which teaches kids computer coding skills like how to design their own video games, will open May 3.
Code Ninjas, at 125 E. 107th Ave. in the Beacon Hill development in Crown Point, plans to have a grand opening celebration from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 30. It will have snacks, specials, giveaways and tours.
Business partners Michael Vesich, a senior curriculum architect with IBM, and Jim Pellegrini, the head of marketing for The Times Media Co., are opening the first Northwest Indiana franchise of the international chain of coding schools. Founded in 2016, the Houston-based business has exploded to more than 345 locations around the world, including in the Indianapolis metro, and expects to soon reach 700 locations worldwide.
“People can come in and check out the place at the grand opening,” Pellegrini said. “It will be all shiny and new. People will be on hand to show kids around. There will be stations with cool Legos, mini little robots and CD printing.”
Code Ninjas teaches kids coding literacy, critical thinking, problem-solving and science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. Students between the ages of 7 and 14 learn coding, a widely used skill in the digital age that has been described as “the literacy of the 21st century.”
Code Ninja dojos, where teachers are known as code senseis and students are called ninjas, aim to spark an early interest in a technical skill that’s in high demand in the workforce. Vesich described it as one of the “fastest growing fields we’ve ever seen.”
The technical instruction covers basic fundamentals, math, science, and soft skills. Students go on to develop their own Minecraft or Roblox video games. Students earn belts during ceremonies as they progress in their skills.
Code Ninja also offers programs on subjects like 3D printing, robotics and becoming a YouTuber. It will employ up to 40 people and be able to handle up to 65 students at a time.
“You can learn with like-minded kids. It’s a great opportunity for development,” Pellegrini said.
It will start offering camps for up to 20 students on June 6. Students can get more intensive training on topics like stop-motion animation, coding your own arcade, 3D design and print, movie-making with Minecraft and robotics with Legos. The camps have already been selling out.
“There are so many camps for kids that love baseball and not so many that embrace coding and STEM activities,” he said. “This is going to open doors to kids in this community that really need this type of outlet and type of facility. We’re not only going to work hand-in-hand to teach them certain aspects of coding and gaming but also going to enhance them to hopefully strive even more by teaching logical thinking and analytical thought to get their minds moving. Hopefully, it’s going to carry over into to their schooling.”
The new Code Ninjas is expected to be a draw and tap into unmet demand.
“We have had a huge response,” Pellegrini said. “We have a really great following already and aren’t even open yet. We’ve gotten a pretty amazing response from the community in Northwest Indiana, which makes us feel welcome.”
It was a long journey to get the Code Ninjas dojo open.
“We started a year ago and had setbacks and issues with construction, but people were still very understanding and could wait until it opened,” he said. “Imagine if we had this growing up, and how much farther we’d have gotten now.”
For more information, call 219-661-7484, visit www.codeninjas.com or go to facebook.com/codeninjascrownpoint.
A new Caribbean jerk restaurant is taking over the former Pizza Hut on U.S. 30 in Merrillville.
A sign indicates Jerk-N-Go Sports Bar and Grill is coming to 234 81st Ave. in Merrillville. That was previously home to Roxanna’s restaurant, which offered Middle Eastern cuisine, and Cajun House, which sold seafood boils and is not to be confused with the similarly named Cajun Crab House in the Southlake Mall, which remains open and going strong.
The sign said the restaurant will offer jerk chicken, seafood and lunch specials. It’s now hiring.
An employee at Jerk 2 Go Express in Gary said it was not affiliated with that restaurant, which also specializes in the spicy Jamaican chicken.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dollar General has renovated and converted a store to its new DG Market format.
The remodeled store at 6161 Cleveland St. in Merrillville now carries more products, including a greater selection of groceries. It stocks more fresh meats, fruits and vegetables.
“We are excited to provide Merrillville residents with our new DG Market format and look forward to welcoming customers to our recently-remodeled location,” said Matthew Simonsen, Dollar General’s senior vice president of real estate and store development. “The new DG Market format aims to provide the Merrillville community with an updated design and closer access to fresh foods and a convenient location to purchase the items they want and need at everyday low prices. We hope our customers will enjoy the new store.”
The company is hiring and says it offers competitive wages and benefits that include insurance, 401(k) savings, retirement plans, paid parental leave, tuition reimbursement and adoption assistance.
The LA Fitness at 17365 Torrence Ave. just north of Interstate 80/94 in Lansing has rebranded as Esporta Fitness.
LA Fitness has been rebranding some of its gyms across the country under the Esporta brand, a Planet Fitness competition that offers basic memberships for as little as $9.99 a month with a $0 enrollment fee. The massive fitness club in Lansing offers classes, personal training, functional training, basketball, racquetball, a pool and a sauna.
The Round the Clock diner in Lansing has closed and its windows are papered up.
The diner at 17601 Torrence Ave. just south of Interstate 80/94 by the Super Walmart specialized in breakfast fare like omelets, skillets and other hearty comfort food. It has sister restaurants in Highland and Schererville.
An employee at the Highland restaurant said it was not known if it would ever reopen, saying that location was leased and it was hard finding enough employees to staff it. The diner cut back on being open “Round the Clock” to more limited hours last year, closing at 3 p.m. like a traditional pancake house.
NWI Business Ins and Outs: Sonic Drive-In and cookie shop coming to Dyer; cigar lounge, bar and chicken restaurant opening
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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Jarper Properties is seeking preliminary PUD approval to build 52 units on about 17 acres of property near U.S. 30 and Morton Street.
Commissioner Rich Mrozinski, citing a state law requiring an office holder be physically present in his or her office for a “reasonable amount of time each month,” offered the measure.
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