Restaurants: Former Buckeyes Chimdi Chekwa and Bryant Browning bring latest Pit BBQ to Clintonville
The gridiron gang is back, ready to tackle the Clintonville market.
Former Ohio State University football players Chimdi Chekwa and Bryant Browning, plus business partners D’Andre Martin and Mike Johnson, will open their latest Pit BBQ Grille on Saturday at 4219 N. High St.
“People gotta eat,” said Martin, whose team has been playing defense to the COVID-19 pandemic. “It slowed us down but we had to adjust.”
That meant more promotion of carryout and delivery and firing up the food truck, Martin said.
“It’s been an interesting journey,” Browning added.
The Pit BBQ Grille is among a cluster of independent dining spots – Hot Chicken Takeover, Gallo’s on High and Northstar Café among them – several blocks south of Henderson Road.
“I thought it would be a good niche,” Browning said. “It’s definitely a place to eat now.”
The Pit, displaying ivory brick walls, has seating for 10 during COVID-19 restrictions but will put its patio space to use when the weather is warner, Martin said.
The Pit is known for its Cleveland-style barbecue options – including Polish boy and girl sandwiches – plus ribs, rib tips, pulled pork, fresh-cut fries, typical Southern sides, an array of bowls and combos, and homemade barbecue sauce.
It’s designed for quick service, as the smoked food and sauces are prepared at the Parsons Avenue location on the South Side. The original Pit BBQ Grille, which opened in September 2016 in the Northern Lights Shopping Center, has since been sold.
The partners also plan to open a food stall next month at North Market Bridge Park in Dublin.
“The growth has been amazing, especially doing it with my friends,” Martin said. “It’s like a dream come true.”
Martin has even branched out to a different line of business – bamboo toilet paper. Using the tagline “Go Green, Stay Clean,” the company, known as Leafy, is owned by Martin, Charles Peaks, Marvin Green, Troy Cherry and Anthony Caldwell.
“We wanted to bring something that would have a direct impact on central Ohio – and save the earth,” he said.
Hours for the new Pit BBQ store are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, noon to 9 p.m. Saturdays, noon to 7 p.m. Sundays, and closed Mondays. For more information, call 614-674-6991.
Authentic Albanian destination: Linworth
An authentic Albanian restaurant plans to make its summer debut in Linworth.
Velca Grill is taking over the former Blarney Stone Tavern, 2151 W. Dublin-Granville Road, just east of Linworth Road. (The Blarney Stone has relocated to 2245 W. Dublin-Granville Road.)
Arnold Velcani, who owns the store with his brother, Armando, and father, Arben, said the bill of fare will be strictly Albanian, similar to food of their Albanian hometown, where the family once owned a restaurant. In other words, no large portions of the menu will be reserved for Italian and Greek fare.
“We want to exclude that,” Arnold Velcani said.
The space is undergoing a major remodeling project, as the entire 2,400-square-foot storefront has been stripped down to the floorboards.
“We have a lot of work to do,” Velcani said.
Casual in Clintonville
MoZmoZ Restaurant & Café will replace Acre at 2700 N. High St. in Clintonville.
Owner Mo Mubaslat said the food is going to be casual American – gyros, Philly steaks, burgers, wings, fish and salads, all in the $10 range.
Mubaslat said he liked the location, bordering the University District and the Bohemian part of Clintonville, full of students and recent graduates looking for a budget-friendly meal.
“We hope we get something nice going on there,” he said.
Daily Growler pulls out of Polaris
The Daily Growler has pulled up the stakes in Polaris Fashion Place's food court. Owner John W. Blakely attributed the demise to COVID-19 restrictions on seating.
"Like a lot of businesses forced to close because of the pandemic, we'll probably always wonder "what if" with that location," he said.
The Daily Growler's three original locations, in Upper Arlington, Powell and the Brewery District, remain.
Butcher and restaurant expanding to Shawnee Hills
The Butcher & Grocer butcher shop and Cleaver gastropub-style restaurant, sister businesses in Grandview Heights, will expand to the new Shawnee Station retail center on Glick Road west of the Scioto River.
“I have actually been eyeing the Shawnee Hills area for over a year for an expansion,” said Tony Tanner, owner of Butcher & Grocer and Cleaver. “When I learned about the Shawnee Station development, I knew I had to get my foot in the door.”
The two operations will join Boston Stoker Coffee in the 14,175-square-foot Shawnee Station being developed by Equity Commercial Real Estate Solutions of Hilliard.
Dispatch restaurant reporter Gary Seman Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org