Southlake Mall corn dog restaurant, Big City Cheesesteaks and Caravel Autism Health open; Proper tennis and Hearts in Motion move

State fair food — the crowd-pleaser that gets poked with a stick and dunked in a sizzling hot fryer — is taking over at Southlake Mall.

Kong Dog is now serving corn dogs at the strip mall’s food court at US 30 and Mississippi Street in Hobart.

The restaurant specializes in gourmet corn dogs, has the tagline “fresh new corn dogs” and features King Kong-like imagery in its marketing.

Its unique corn dogs include the Potato Kong Dog, which is topped with squares of French fries, the Sweet Potato Kong Dog, the Churro Kong Dog, the Ramen Kong Dog, topped with crunchy pieces of ramen noodles, the Sweet Chili Doritos Corndog, which is just what it sounds like, and the Rainbow Corn Dog. which is encrusted with a colored grain similar to fruit pebbles.

The menu becomes even more unusual. There’s also the Injeolmi Kong Dog, which is topped with condensed milk and roasted yellow bean powder, and the Spaghetti Kong Dog, which is drenched in marinara sauce and sprinkled with generous amounts of Parmesan cheese.

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Whichever corn dog you choose, you can get beef sausage, chicken sausage, veggie sausage, mozzarella filling, or half beef and half mozzarella.

Drinks include lemonade, ginger ale, bubble tea with milk, strawberry matcha bean and iced Ube latte.

Kong Dog is a chain with locations in Chicago, Schaumburg, Rosemont, Rolling Meadows, Glenview and Park Ridge, as well as in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York. It has locations in several Chicago neighborhoods, including Lincoln Park, Chinatown and the University of Illinois-Chicago campus.

The fast-growing fast-food restaurant concept is looking to add more locations, including in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Wisconsin and Washington, DC. Also coming to Hyde Park, Wicker Park, Aurora, Oak Park, Oakbrook, Naperville, Elmhurst and Evanston.

Kong Dog has only been around for a few years, but has grown through franchising.

“On December 21st, the first franchise location opened on Taylor Street in downtown Chicago (near UIC) to rave reviews,” Kong Dog said on its website. “In a town that takes its hot dogs seriously, Kong Dog has made a name for itself, and for good reason: these corn dogs taste great, look great, and are fun to eat.” Proving that the love for these delicious dogs has not been denied in the Chicago area, more stores have sprung up in other states with a goal of 200+ stores in five years.”

For more information, visit

Open up

After some hiatus, Big City Cheesesteaks has opened its long-awaited location in Munster.

The restaurant was located at the Menards on Columbia Avenue in Hammond and has moved to 8220 Calumet Ave. in Munster. As the name suggests, Big City Cheesesteaks specializes in Philadelphia-inspired dishes. The menu includes cheesesteaks, chicken, fish and egg rolls.

With the motto “The Best in the Midwest,” it offers a variety of cheesesteaks, including triple cheesesteak, pepperjack steak, cheddar cheesesteak, bacon cheesesteak, chicken buffalo steak, and cheesesteak with gyros. In addition, there are many varieties of French fries such as Gyros and Buffalo Chicken Fries.

Poultry options include wings, tenders and bites. It is especially known for its fusion egg rolls, which include gyros, Buffalo chicken and Philly cheesesteak. They built a loyal following at their original Hammond location, which closed at the end of 2021 when its lease expired.

Owner Brian Smith, who also started Steel City Cheesesteaks in Gary with his brother in 2005, had chosen the Munster location and thought the move would be faster. But it took a long time to renovate the building, which was previously a doctor’s office and an ambulance. He had to install a commercial kitchen in the 2,200-square-foot space and then address the city’s concerns about parking, which stretched it even further.

The restaurant seats 16 inside, carries out and offers delivery through DoorDash and GrubHub. It also has online orders through its website.

“So far, the wait has been worth it,” he said. “The city and the surrounding communities came out to support us.”

The new location, along the busy stretch of Calumet Avenue, gets a lot more traffic.

“I had a dream about the location and I never have dreams,” he said. “Now I’m trying to develop it and franchise it in Illinois.”

He was exposed to cheesesteaks while visiting New Jersey and talked to many cheesesteak restaurant owners there before opening his own establishment.

“There’s something about steak and melted cheese that people like,” he said. “Put it on a soft roll and you can’t go wrong.”

Big City Cheesesteaks is open from 12:00pm to 9:00pm Monday through Saturday.

For more information, visit, call (219) 513-9801, email in[email protected] or find the business on social media.

Open up

Caravel Autism Health just cut the ribbon on its new therapy clinic in Munster.

The clinic at 10419 Calumet Ave. aims to help children on the autism spectrum who work with therapists to make connections, develop skills and gain confidence. Its services include diagnosis, assessment, counseling and family support.

“We are changing lives through ABA therapy,” said Caravel CEO Mike Miller.

ABA, or Applied Behavior Analysis, has some critics who argue that it forces autistic children to adhere to neurotypical standards and repeatedly focuses on eliminating problem behaviors.

Miller said she can make a positive difference in children’s lives.

“This is an evidence-based therapy that helps children with autism reach their greatest potential,” he said. “We want all children to have access to the highest quality autism care available, so we’re stepping up to build clinics where families have struggled to find providers.”

Caravel Autism Health aims to welcome children with autism with colorful, sensory spaces. It aims to use positive reinforcement to teach children skills such as communication and socialization.

The clinic uses its own system to track children’s progress with real-time data so that it can customize each child’s therapy to ensure the best outcome. It said it has increased target clinical quality measures by 34% since last year.

“Our innovative therapeutic approach leads to better outcomes and happier lives for the whole family,” said Maggie Ealy, clinical director at Caravel’s Munster clinic. “ABA therapy has the greatest impact during the early developmental years, so we are excited to bring this new resource to young children in Northwest Indiana.”

Founded in 2009, Caravel Autism Health now operates clinics in Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Idaho and Washington.

For more information, call 219-217-3648 or visit


Services You Right Tennis has started a new set at a new location.

The company, which has been part of Northwest Indiana tennis education since 1980, is moving to Illiana Christian High School in Dyer.

John A. and John B. Perkovich, a father and son team, offer private lessons, group lessons and summer tennis camps. They have trained hundreds of junior players over the years for varsity spots on high school teams in Northwest Indiana.

“The additional court space will allow us to offer our youth camps to a greater number of children in the area,” said John B. Perkovich, head pro.

For more information, call 219-781-8181.


Hearts In Motion, a nonprofit organization that has served families in need for more than 30 years, is moving to a new permanent headquarters in Schererville, where it operates a resale shop at 2210 US 41 to fund its operations.

Hearts In Motion will open its new headquarters at The Hearts Plaza in Schererville next week. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. Thursday.

The community is invited to come out to enjoy music, Guatemalan food, drinks and discounted shopping. Anyone who brings school supplies to donate to students in Guatemala will receive $5 off at the Hearts In Motion Resale Shoppe.

Hearts in Motion founder Karen Scheringa-Parra, Guatemala National Volunteer Fire Service Commander Giovanni Cordon and executive director of St. Jude House Ryan Elinkowski will make public remarks at the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Founded in 1993, Hearts in Motion aims to empower volunteers to help people in need in the United States, Central and South America. For example, there is a home for children, a feeding center, a center for the elderly, a day care center and rehabilitation services in Guatemala. It has satellite offices in Guatemala, Louisville, Tulsa and Mukwonago, Wisconsin.

For more information, visit and find the organization on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

coming soon

Player one for the Glitch Video Gaming Experience in Munster will be ready soon.

Glitch Video Gaming Experience is taking over the space at 231 Ridge Road. It was home to the Munster Train Depot Hobby Shop until it closed permanently after the owner’s death.

If you would like your business featured in a future column, email [email protected].

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