It probably took me until I was 13 or so to realize that not everyone’s family friends owned bars and restaurants.
Back home it was the Inn Between, the K-Village Inn—here, it was Zeno’s.
My brothers and I would delight in walking in through the kitchen, a la Goodfellas, except there were chicken nuggets at the end of that stroll, not cannoli.
I think about those days a lot as an adult, especially an adult in charge of a food and drink magazine.
I used to eavesdrop on the chatter between the bartender and the regulars, crane my neck to get a little extra view of what was happening through those swinging saloon doors that most kitchens seemed to have back then.
Now, I get to explore (for work!) those same personalities and that same culture that I loved so much as a kid.
Plus, I can also eat a burger for breakfast, or French toast made of donuts, if I want.
Oh, and booze.
Our conversations with the personalities in Columbus reveal that same gleeful joy in how we all interact with one another’s tastes.
Sometimes, it’s simple word of mouth: we want these pages to be a more vivid, descriptive version of that same recommendation you’d get from a friend. Dude, you’ve never had the Chicken Sandwich from Challah? They make it like those old fish fries from rural Ohio!
Look, this is gonna sound crazy, but one of the best $5 meals is that meat skewer you can add on to the Blind Lady’s Bloody Mary.
When we show up to photograph or taste the dishes and drinks you see inside, those responsible for delivering look on with a wry, satisfied smile.
Know what I mean? This is damn exciting for all of us.
After all, it’s not like you can taste the food through these pages. (Although, if I saw someone licking a copy of Stock & Barrel, I would be super proud.)
What’s great about what we get to do at this magazine is tell the stories of passionate people—how their passions have fueled their lives and shaped their families.
Like Takashi Takenaka, who built himself a new a Japanese outpost in Columbus. One which not only develops our Midwestern palates, but also employs his fellow countrymen and women in their new homeland.
Or Pablo Sandoval, whose love of Mexican ice cream is equal only to his desire to resurrect the memories of his childhood.
Then, there’s Alex Kolada, who like myself, inherited his father’s love of beer. (His dad helped brew it; mine just consumed it.)
Of course there’s more bite-sized chunks of Columbus creativity in this issue, too—watching the bars and restaurants here try to outdo each other when it comes to brunch reaps nothing but benefits for all of us.
Gives me even more reason to come in through the front door.