Central Ohio restaurant openings and closings: Saying goodbye to some old favorites (2024)

While restaurant openings still far exceed closings in central Ohio, some of the places we lost recently have stood out as longtime — and not so longtime — favorites.

Tommy's Pizza was a popular Ohio State University hangout for 45 years, while Pam's Popcorn in Gahanna has had a loyal following since its early days at North Market Downtown. Mouton was at the leading edge of the local craft-co*cktail movement more than a decade ago, while Hiraeth helped usher in live-fire cooking just last year.

Here's a look back at what opened and closed recently for food and drink fans in Columbus and the suburbs.

Bears Bagels

Central Ohio restaurant openings and closings: Saying goodbye to some old favorites (1)

Bears Bagels, which since 2020 has progressed from a pandemic pastime to wholesale distribution, opened a shop of its own June 7 at 4142 Main St. in Hilliard. "Hours of carb consumption," as listed on the front door, include breakfast and lunch, and the menu includes bagels, bialys, schmears and sandwiches.

More: Bears Bagels moves from Instagram orders and farmers-market sales to Hilliard storefront

Blasian Grill

Kosal Long and Joe Russell started Blasian Grill as a food cart in 2017 and eventually moved their business into a food truck. Version 3.0, as they call their new restaurant on the West Side at 801 Harrisburg Pike, opened June 7.

Blasian Grill serves hibachi — chicken, steak, shrimp, scallops, salmon or combinations — with vegetables over steamed rice, fried rice or noodles.

Bubbles Tea & Juice Co.

The company that brought bubble tea to Columbus in 2005 opened its ninth central Ohio location June 20 at 121 Mill St. in Gahanna. Another Bubbles Tea & Juice Co. is in the works for a new shop this summer at 1257 Grandview Ave. in Grandview Heights, in a space next to Lion Cub's Cookies that formerly housed the children's store, Cub Shrub.

Crave Cookies

Crave Cookies, a national gourmet cookie chain with shops from the Pacific Northwest to South Florida, opened its first Ohio location June 5 at 5875 Evans Farm Drive in Lewis Center. Among the cookies in its opening-month rotation were the "S'moreo," with crushed Oreos and toasted marshmallow; the "Snickety Split," with chopped Snickers bars, peanuts and caramel; and good old chocolate chip.

How gourmet are they? A dozen will cost you $40.

Del Mar

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After debuting his Mediterranean-style seafood concept three years ago in Naples, Florida, Cameron Mitchell brought Del Mar to his hometown June 11. Its menu centers around fresh fish and shellfish prepared with influences from Spain, Morocco, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Syria and other Mediterranean countries.

Del Mar is at 4089 The Strand East, at Easton Town Center.

More: Del Mar's menu spans the Mediterranean, from Spain to the Middle East

DiBella's Subs

Rochester, New York-based DiBella's Subs completed plans to double its Columbus presence with its opening June 26 at 4980 E. Dublin Granville Road on the Northeast Side. DiBella's expanded to Worthington in April and has other locations near the University District and on Tuttle Crossing Boulevard.

DiBella's is the latest addition to Hamilton Quarter development near state Route 161 and North Hamilton Road.

FAUX

The philosophy at FAUX, a dry bar and arcade that opened June 14 at 123 N. Broad St. in Lancaster: "Non-alcoholic doesn't have to mean boring." Martinis, old fashioneds, bloody marys, mojitos, mai tais and other co*cktails are mixed with spirits that have gone through a dealcoholization process. Nonalcohol wines and beers are served as well. (Be aware: Nonalcoholic drinks can contain up to 0.5% alcohol by volume.)

FAUX also features all-you-can-play retro arcade games, more than 200 tabletop games and a pool table.

More: If you're going alcohol-free, you still have craft co*cktail options

Guy Fieri's Trattoria

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Guy Fieri has put his name on nearly 100 restaurants in 40 cities from Washington, D.C. to Dubai. The celebrity chef and Food Network host finally opened one June 2 in the city where he was born. Guy Fieri's Trattoria, his first exclusively Italian restaurant as well, is off the casino floor at Eldorado Scioto Downs, 6000 S. High St. on the Far South Side.

Get to know: Guy Fieri on Columbus, food and the origins of 'Flavortown'

KPot

KPot, the national restaurant chain that offers cook-it-yourself Korean barbecue and Chinese hot-pot meals on the same menu, opened its second Columbus location June 10 at 8665 Sancus Blvd. near Polaris on the Far North Side.

With hot pot, you add your choices of meats, seafood, vegetables, noodles and other items to broth that boils away at your own tabletop burner. You can also cook your selections on a tabletop grill. The all-you-can-eat meals are $19.99 at lunch and $30.99 at dinner.

Do it yourself: How to cook and enjoy your own hot pot or Korean barbecue meal

Lazy Dawg Restaurant & Bar

co*cktails and hot dogs, a winning combo at places like Dirty Frank's and Law Bird in Columbus, are now available in the heart of Delaware. Lazy Dawg Restaurant & Bar opened June 24 at 12 W. William St.

On the co*cktail side, Lazy Dawg offers weekly specialty drinks such as the recent "Callin' Me Krazy," a blend of gin, lemon, blackberry, lime and syrup. Hot dogs span the globe of flavors; there are 18 specialty dogs on the menu and 39 choose-your-own toppings and sauces. The restaurant also serves lobster rolls and shrimp rolls.

Liberty Tavern

The restaurant group behind Local Cantina, the Rossi, South Village Grille and other Columbus names opened its second Liberty Tavern on June 6 at 2170 Polaris Pkwy. on the Far North Side.

Orange Umbrella Restaurants' latest Liberty Tavern serves classic American fare such as burgers, fries and wings, but the Polaris location also will offer modern dishes with Asian and Indian culinary influences, company representatives said. The original is at 50 S. Liberty St. in Powell.

Loco Social

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A food-and-drinks menu featuring French toast cubes, breakfast sandwiches, bánh mì, fruit bowls, rice bowls, bubble tea and tiki drinks was tailored to the tastes of Grandview Heights, according to the owners of Loco Social, which opened June 6 at 1291 Grandview Ave.

Loco Social is next door to Agave & Rye and is owned by the same company, EPIC Brands of Covington, Kentucky.

Lotus Pho and Hawaiian BBQ

Lotus Pho and Hawaiian BBQ, 6517 Livingston Ave. in Reynoldsburg, offers a variety of Asian dishes, from Vietnamese pho and Hawaiian barbecue to Japanese katsu and Chinese appetizers.

Matcha Me

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Using ceremonial-grade matcha sourced from Japan, Matcha Me serves hot and cold drinks that feature the traditional and popular green-tea powder. They include simple matcha-and-water or matcha-and-milk mixes, as well as strawberry matcha lattes, chai matcha lattes and matcha lemonade.

Matcha Me opened June 28 at 2348 N. High St. in the University District.

McGinnis' Grill

After Zaki Mediterranean Grill moved into a permanent spot at Budd Dairy Food Hall, a new tenant has opened in its pop-up kitchen spot. McGinnis' Grill started as a food truck in 2021, and owners John and Kate McGinnis opened Birdie's Grill last November inside the Fairway golf simulator in Upper Arlington. They opened at Budd Dairy, 1086 N. Fourth St. in Italian Village, on June 4.

McGinnis' Grill's signature is a braised brisket melt with brisket, grilled onions, pepper jack, cheddar, Swiss cheese and horseradish aioli.

Nocterra Brewing at Audubon

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More than 20 beers are on tap and nearly 30 food choices are on the menu at Nocterra Brewing Co.'s new taproom, which opened June 30 at 516 Maier Place, next to Scioto Audubon Metro Park in the Brewery District. Nocterra also has a taproom at 41 Depot St. in Powell.

Adding on: Nocterra Brewing opens taproom and restaurant at Scioto Audubon

Oh Churros

Oh Churros, 2110 W. Henderson Road near Upper Arlington, fries up fresh churros and serves them in traditional and bite-sized form. The shop that opened June 1 also sells coffee, hot chocolate and other drinks.

Qahwah House Coffee

Dearborn, Michigan-based Qahwah House Coffee opened its first Ohio coffee shop at 189 E. Main St. on June 14. Qahwah House specializes in Yemeni coffee — qahwah is the Arabic word for coffee — and has opened 15 locations since 2017.

The coffee shop also serves sabaya, a Yemeni dessert that's made of layers of flaky pastry and butter.

Teas Your Spirits

Teas Your Spirits, 5286 Center St. in Hilliard, is a tea house and restaurant that opened June 27. Owner Mayra Betances began brewing her own tea combinations in 2020 and sold them at farmers markets. She's partnered with chef Ernesto Villegas, whose menu includes empanadas, chimichurri burgers, and daily vegetarian and vegan options.

“I know the Hilliard community is ready for a multicultural dining experience close to home,” Betances said on Hilliard's government website.

Zhu Shi Fu

Zhu Shi Fu, a Chinese barbecue restaurant, opened at 2515 Summit St. in the University District. It serves skewers of lamb, chicken, shrimp, pork belly, chicken feet, eggplant and other items. According to Columbus Food Adventures, its kitchen is open until 11 p.m.

Closings: Hiraeth, Mouton, Tommy's Pizza, more...

One of Columbus' best new restaurants of 2023 ended daily service June 1 after just nine months. Hiraeth, owned by James Beard-nominated chef BJ Lieberman and his wife, Bronwyn Haines, is continuing at 36 E. Lincoln St. in Italian Village as a space for private and special events.

Local Cantina shut down its Short North restaurant at 600 N. High St. on June 16, but four others remain open within just 5 miles: at East Market on the Near East Side and in the Brewery District, Clintonville and Grandview Heights.

The McDonald's at 4250 International Gateway, for many the last stop before flying out of town or the first stop after landing, closed June 30 to make way for a $179 million, 5,000-car parking garage at John Glenn Columbus International Airport.

As it prepares to open new locations this summer at Easton Town Center, Dublin's Bridge Park and across North High Street from the Ohio State University campus, Mikey's Late Night Slice closed its restaurant in Olde Towne East. The last day at 892 Oak St. was June 26.

Mouton, the Short North bar that for 13 years produced an ever-evolving menu of craft co*cktails, closed June 1. Owner Jonathan Klingler said Mouton's lease at 954 N. High St. was not renewed because of redevelopment plans.

Pam's Market Popcorn, 955 E. Johnstown Road in Gahanna, closed June 22 after 19 years in business. Owner Pam Tylka started at North Market Downtown and moved to Gahanna in 2017. She said she's battling cancer and needs to focus on her health, but she said she hopes to reopen in New Albany or another location in Gahanna "when the time is right."

Three Bites Bakery closed its doors June 23 at 999 Mount Vernon Ave. on the Near East Side but is to reopen at 12 E. Broad St. Downtown in space to be shared with Little Cat Boba. Little Cat will continue as a vendor at East Market, 212 Kelton Ave. on the Near East Side.

Tommy's Pizza, part of campus life at Ohio State University since expanding to Lane Avenue in 1979, closed June 14. "It has been a pleasure serving multiple generations of families and students alike," the restaurant posted on its website. Two other Tommy's locations — 1350 W. Lane Ave. near Upper Arlington and 4279 W. Dublin Granville Road in Dublin — remain open.

Willowbeez SoulVeg, known for what a Dispatch reviewer once described as "rib-sticking vegan fare," closed its space at North Market Downtown on June 24. Founder Carnell Willoughby said in a Facebook video that he remains in business and plans to host pop-up events in the future.

rvitale@dispatch.com

Instagram: @dispatchdining

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Columbus Restaurants: 20 new food spots in the Central Ohio area

Central Ohio restaurant openings and closings: Saying goodbye to some old favorites (2024)
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