Columbus, Ohio USA
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Dis 'n' Data
By Margaret Marten, Editor
email margaret@shortnorth.com
January/February 2018

DIS 'N' DATA ARCHIVE

LIT Life and Yoga in Italian Village - see article

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop Arrives: Columbus a Link in a Chain

Tacos are an inexpensive, nutritious, tasty solution to fast food, so it’s not surprising to see a taco business become so popular that it grows into a national chain. Condado in Columbus is an example of that type of exponential growth. In 2014, Joe Kahn launched his first Condado restaurant in the Short North with the objective of going national. He succeeded with five additional locations. Now we have Fuzzy’s. In November, Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, a national chain based in Texas, opened across from the Convention Center in the former Japanese Steak House. The founder of Fuzzy’s, Paul Willis, who passed away in 2013, launched his restaurant in 2001 in Fort Worth. Although he sold it two years later, it remained hugely successful, developed into a franchise and now has 134 locations. The Columbus location at 479 N. High St. is a corporate-owned site where franchisees are trained – one of seven the company uses for that purpose. The first Fuzzy’s in Ohio (franchise-owned) opened in Toledo. Columbus was the second with more to follow.

As the founding father of Fuzzy’s, Willis was more than a mere business man. He attended the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and was involved in over half a dozen successful eateries before his sudden death from a heart-related illness at the age of 48. Many chains are conceived in pursuit of the almighty dollar, but Willis at least had some serious interest in the culinary arts – still evident in Fuzzy’s menu: The current flavor profile and the majority of menu items are those created by Fuzzy founder.

A dozen taco varieties of meat, fish, poultry and veggies are served shredded, spiced, grilled, tempura-fried or fajita-style topped with garlic sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese, cilantro, and feta. Most categories – salads, burritos, enchiladas, nachos, quesadillas – include a least a half dozen selections. Breakfast items, all with eggs, offer well over a dozen appetizing combinations. Tortilla chips as starters, sides of bean, rice, or potato recipes and a kids menu round out a wide array of choices.

There’s something for everyone, and the only way to discover what tantalizes your tastebuds is to try it. Beer, margaritas and specialty drinks will wash it all down and soothe your palate.

Fuzzy’s is open before dawn and closes at 11 p.m. most of 7 days. Call 614-412-8226 or visit www.fuzzystacoshop.com for more information. Their Facebook is at FuzzysColumbus.

Branch: Fine Dining Redo

The former Biscuit & Branch eatery at 685 N. High St. changed its name to Branch: Bourbon Bar after closing briefly at the end of October. A rebrand is bound to draw attention from customers but can be a risky endeavor and run into added expense. Whatever the rationale, we know that some serious attention has been given to every last detail of the menu and service, so it’s worth revisiting. Overall, it’s fine dining and drinking under the direction of a new chef who is skilled and has a good reputation. The restaurant first opened a year ago bringing southern fare into the southern section of the Short North and is still serving southern food but with a updated menu and a new full raw bar. The latest concept and menu were created by executive chef Philip Shyatt, a James Beard nominee. Branch is located at 685 N. High St. next to Alexanders Jewelers. They open at 4 p.m. during the week, 10 a.m. on the weekend, and are closed on Monday. Visit branch614.com or call 614-732-0487 for more details.

Roaming Goat Coffee Co.

Under new ownership, Impero Coffee officially became Roaming Goat Coffee Company in December. This will be the third coffee retailer in that space at 849 N. High St. since the Dakota Building was constructed. Steve Firouzian opened Cuppy’s Coffee in July 2008 and closed it a little over a year later, after which Matt and Lucinda Sontag opened the doors of Impero Coffee and blessed the community with their brew for almost a decade. Now Jason Thomas is welcoming a community of creative coffee drinkers into his shop. The Impero name has been removed, the interior refurbished, and, with the help of Freedom a la Cart, the menu will soon offer an assortment of grab-n-go treats. Thomas, 48, a native of Dublin, Ohio, where he currently lives with his wife and two children, is personable, and respectful of the Short North community. He came into the coffee trade via a circuitous route. As an economics major, he began his professional career in banking and finance. His exposure to coffee sales came later, in 2010, when he hooked up with a coffee distributor, bought out a local supplier a year later, and, after labeling his venture Roaming Goat Coffee Company, continued his journey as a roaster in earnest in 2013, selling at farmers markets, coffee shops, and eventually expanding into grocery stores. “It wasn’t until about 15 years in [corporate work] I realized I didn’t want to run in the rat race any further and decided to find a small business to get into,” explained Thomas. “I seleted coffee because I always enjoyed it and thought it would be a fun industry to be involved with.” Like the namesake, “roaming goat,” the job keeps Thomas roaming about – from his home in Dublin to the roastery in Worthington to the Short North shop and beyond as coffee sales climb. The extensive renovations at the Short North shop, including new ceiling tiles and woodworking, are worth checking out. Stop by, bring a friend, enjoy the atmosphere along with a cup of hot caffeine out of the cold. Roaming Goat Coffee Company is open 7 days a week. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram: @roaminggoatcoffee and Twitter:
@roaminggoatCC. Their web address is roaminggoatcoffee.com

Departures

Second Sole, a store for runners that specializes in shoes and apparel, closed in November after nearly three years at 662 N. High St., next to the Happy Greek. They originally opened at this location in March 2015. Second Sole was founded in 1981 by Steve Hixson and presently has locations throughout Ohio. Randy Benedict managed the Short North location as well as the one in Gahanna for many years. The Gahanna store remains open.

The Level Dining Lounge will reopen as the Monarch Cocktail Lounge this month after closing its doors in December. Brent Clevidence sold the business to Shawn Shahnazi, a veteran club and restaurant owner from Miami. Some of Level’s staff and menu will remain at what is now being dubbed an “upscale high energy lounge concept.” The 700 N. High spot was R.J. Snappers restaurant for 11 years before Level opened in June 2009.

Three bars closed in December on N. Park Street – the Park Street Patio (launched 2007), the Social Room (2009), and Park Street Saloon (2010). All three were owned by Jimmy Woodland and attorney Ed Hastie of Woodlands Productions. They purchased the bars back in 2013 from Corso Gallicchio Swanson Development Ltd. An eight-story boutique AC Hotel will be built on the site. The hotel is named for Marriott chain’s Spanish owner, Antonio Catalán, and boasts European-inspired amenities. The entire development that encompasses that part of Park Street includes a parking garage and office building as well.

Meanwhile, neighboring Park Street Cantina at 491 N. Park St., directly across from the North Market, another former CGS Group bar, which is now run by Michael Brothers Entertainment Group – Sam and Fadi Michael – has been targeted by City Council. In early December, they voted to object to the renewal of its liquor license, along with seven other businesses including High Five Spice Emporium at 1178 N. High St. across from the Garden Theater. The Ohio Division of Liquor Control has the final say on renewals.

Crazy construction and bagged meters discourage customers and make it doubly difficult for new businesses in the Short North to get off the ground. The Short North Deli was open less than a year at 841 N. High St. in the Dakota Building before closing in November after facing an onslaught of construction cones and barriers. It might have been a different outcome if the merchandise had a longer shelf life. Tom Kincaid’s companion business, House Beer at 843 N. High next door, has been around over five years with more of a fighting chance to remain on track.

In Harrison West, the Caffe Apropos will close in mid-January then reopen later under new ownership. It will serve as a restaurant and tavern after major renovations. Rumor has it that Xhevair (Xavier) Brakaj, the owner of Arch City Tavern and the Red Door, bought out Anton Wood who opened Caffe Apropos at 443 W. Third and Michigan avenues in April 2004. With a breakfast and lunch menu, Caffe Apropos has served more than coffee to neighboring residents. The rear building housed a roastery and oven for pizza-baking; they also sold spirits, beer and wine from their boutique. The cafe has had a successful run for over a dozen years. Best wishes to Anton Wood.

Three Dog Bakery at 611 N. High St. will close January 31. Franchisee owner Susan Gates (former Susan Oilar) opened the shop nearly 10 years ago in July 2008 and seemed to hit the ground running as dog owners flocked to the store for her gourmet dog treats and returned regularly to stock up on wholesome meals and snacks for their four-legged friends. The experiences these small specialty stores bring to the district are important. The store’s annual Easter Begg Hunt and Barkers and Beggars Trick or Treat for Dogs have been wildly popular over the years, allowing owners to dress their pets and visit a variety of shops in the district over several hours. Susan’s anguished announcement about the closing appeared on the Three Dog Bakery Columbus Facebook page in December. Apparently, she had hoped for a last-minute reprieve but was not granted any leniency from her landlord. Susan and her shop will be sorely missed. However, she does plan to keep her Facebook page open under the name of her own bakery operation and to assist the local business association with future Halloween and Easter day dog events. Visit her Facebook at 3dogcbus.com for updates.

Coming Attractions

Half a century after opening in 1968, the White Castle restaurant at W. 2nd Avenue and High will have a new building this spring after months of work to redevelop the property. White Castle, 965 N. High St., will serve as an anchor-site to the entire project on that corner (called The Castle) featuring street-level retail, 105 apartments (at 985 N. High), second-floor office space, and just over 200 parking slots in a garage with about half for public use. Borror Properties and their partner White Castle recently announced a retail tenant: the personal training and interval fitness concept Orangetheory Fitness, owned by franchisee Sarah San Pedro, scheduled to open at 977 N. High this summer. If you were hoping for a build with distinctive castle-like characteristics to emerge out of The Castle development, you will have to look elsewhere.

One of two Cameron Mitchell restaurants launching in the Short North later this year is a New York-style delicatessen, Harvey & Ed’s, at 698 N. High St. in the former Rigsby’s space. Their other new spot, a rooftop bar and restaurant with a retractable glass ceiling, will open across the street at 711 N. High in the nine-story mixed-use development presently under construction. The company has three other restaurants on High: the Guild House, The Pearl, and Marcella’s.

Another future tenant in the 711 N. High project is a digital consulting and software development company (currently housed in the Smith Bros. Hardware building on N. 4th St.), Pillar Technology Group. Their enterprise includes a think tank and innovation center called Forge, as well as a catering business, Espellette Catering, for their in-house events. The company will lease much of two floors and share the top level with the Cameron Mitchell restaurant.

Mark Wood, co-developer of the 711 N. High project plans to complete, along with Michael Schiff, another construction by the end of the year at E. Lincoln and N. Pearl streets behind Sharon Weiss Gallery. The existing surface lot will be transformed into a four-story apartment building, five-story 240-space parking garage, and restaurant.

We are still awaiting the arrival of Babalu Tapas & Tacos, Junction Cookhouse and Bar, BrewDog bar, Serendipity Labs, the Belgian Iron Wafel Co., And Juice Co. as well as added locations for Mikey’s Late Night Slice and Candle Lab.

As noted earlier, tenants for the Brunner Building under construction next to Donatos Pizza are the branding agency 160over90; a real-estate consulting firm DGD Group; a clothing boutique Thread; and an unnamed restaurant.

SEE ALSO: NEIGHBORHOOD EVENTS/NEWS (SELECT WRITEUP)

Email margaret@shortnorth.com or call 614-251-0656 with neighborhood news items for the Short North Gazette.

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