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Pedal to the Kettle

It’s mid-afternoon in Grandview. A grey food truck dozes outside a brewery, its generator putt-putting gently above the rear bumper. A grill sizzles and the air is punctuated by bright, intermittent singing. Inside the truck, Brian Thornton is doing what he does best: jammin’, creating great food, and being his own boss. Oh, and making [...]
Jeni Ruisch

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It’s mid-afternoon in Grandview. A grey food truck dozes outside a brewery, its generator putt-putting gently above the rear bumper. A grill sizzles and the air is punctuated by bright, intermittent singing. Inside the truck, Brian Thornton is doing what he does best: jammin’, creating great food, and being his own boss.

Oh, and making the best damn potato chips in the land.

A Hilliard native, Thornton attended the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago, before returning to his native city to serve some time in the restaurant trenches. After honing his craft in Columbus brick-and-mortars like Hyde Park and The Refectory, Thornton struck out on his own to create the Oh! Burgers food truck, where he sells a multitude of creatively-topped mini burgers. Years behind a line in a kitchen have their way of grizzling most people, and turning their bright, starry eyes into coal in their sockets. Not Thornton. He keeps his cool under heat and pressure, and he’s taking his positive attitude into the big leagues when he opens a potato chip factory this fall in the heart of downtown.

From the start, he made his own chips from scratch to accompany the burgers he was serving, but pretty soon, the crunchy side dish stole the spotlight.

“I was selling out,” he said. “I couldn’t keep up with demand, so I purchased a larger fryer and talked Food Fort into letting me run it in their kitchen. Laura Lee (owner of Korean street food truck Ajumama) really pushed me to start making kettle chips. That’s where my first specialty chips came from…they were Korean barbeque.”

Thornton’s strengths lie in his creative recipes and his tie-ins with other local businesses: spent grain chips from North High Brewing, taking grains from the brewing process and grinding them up in a coffee grinder to use for seasoning; tomato basil chips from Blue Olive food truck; and barbeque chips for Kenny’s Meat Wagon.

Thornton tries to stay crisp by doing specialty chips for himself, like garlic parmesan and cinnamon sweet potato chips. Once the plant fires up this fall, there are plans for “Black Bag” chips, seasonal flavors produced for a few month run, akin to seasonal beers from craft brewers.

The OH! Chips facility will be a full-scale manufacturing and distribution center for his crunchy creations, and will initially employ about four people, but that may change quickly.

As for distribution, the aim is small retail markets like Hills and Weiland’s, or co-ops like those in Clintonville and Bexley. The cost of shelf space at the chain supermarkets coupled with the local-centric attitude of the clientele at the small shops made it an easy decision, Thornton said.
“We want to stay out of the big grocery stores. The competition is fierce in potato chips. I’m not going into an easy market. I figure if I can get people to try them at restaurants first, and off the food truck, that’s how we’re going to build a solid brand.”

Thornton is poised at the beginning of a project that could eventually evolve into a big facility. Oaks from tiny acorns grow, and soon, Columbus will have its very own potato chip factory.

For more, visit www.facebook.com/OHChips, or follow @OH_Chips on Twitter.

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Food & Drink

Polaris Mexican restaurant closes doors

614now Staff

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For all those Mexican food fans out there, we've got some bad news: Cantina Laredo has closed its Columbus location.

The 8791 Lyra Dr. store is no longer listed on the company's location page. Cantina Laredo has also been removed from Polaris' dining page.

The Polaris-area restaurant specialized in "authentic Mexican food inspired by the cuisine of Mexico City with a modern twist," according to Cantina Laredo's Facebook page.

Stay tuned to 614now.com for information about the reason behind the closure.

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Food & Drink

Happy Restaurant Week! Here are the 4 most popular menus

614now Staff

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Restaurant Week Columbus, January 20-25 presented by (614) Magazine and Revolution Mortgage, is finally here!

Eat614.com has been poppin' lately with hungry people around the city researching specialty-priced, 3-course menus from over 200 participating restaurants. We know it can be hard to make a decision, so hopefully this list of the four most-viewed Restaurant Week menus can be your compass.

Happy eating, Columbus!

#4 Eddie Merlot's
1570 Polaris Pkwy., Columbus
$40 per diner

Triple Layer Chocolate Cake

Eddie Merlot's efforts to provide the finest personal service, highest quality foods, and freshest ingredients does not go unnoticed by the Columbus community. Coming in as the #4 most-read Restaurant Week menu so far, the prime-aged beef and seafood restaurant offers king crab bisque, filet mignon, salmon, ribeye, yellowfin tuna, crème brûlée, and triple layer chocolate cake among other options as part of its specially-priced 3-course menu this week.

#3 Lindey's
69 E Beck St., Columbus
$40 per diner

Lobster Bisque

Tucked away on a brick street in German Village, Lindey's has long been one of the city's most beloved restaurants. Tempura Shishito peppers, bison and chipotle chili, marinated shrimp skewer, salmon, filet, lamb bolognese, pumpkin waffle, maple bourbon semifredo, and more will be offered on Lindey's diverse Restaurant Week menu.

#2 Del Mar SoCal Kitchen
705 N High St., Columbus
$40 per diner

Brick Chicken

Recently named one of America's best restaurants by online reservation company OpenTable.com, Del Mar has been receiving a lot of buzz lately, and Restaurant Week is no exception. This new concept from Cameron Mitchell stays true to its Cali-inspired fare during RW with plenty of options from the sea like lobster bisque and faroe island salmon. Brick chicken, beef tenderloin, Hawaiian shave ice, and chocolate valrhona brownie are also among the mix.

Drumroll please....

#1 Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant
4230 The Strand, Columbus
$35 per diner

Gnocchi Carbonara

Out of more than 200 participating restaurants, the menu for Cooper's Hawk has been the most popular on eat614.com so far. While the award-winning wines could be bringing people in, it's certainly the wildly diverse, chef-driven menu Cooper's Hawk's is offering during Restaurant Week that keeps people hanging around. Asia ahi tuna sashimi, jambalaya, crispy Asian pork, gnocchi carbonara, s'more budino, and Cooper's Hawk chocolate cake are just some of the scrumptious items on the three-course menu.

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Food & Drink

This popular national pizza chain is returning to Columbus

614now Staff

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Once owned by former presidential candidate and avowed Poké-philosopher Herman Cain, Godfather's Pizza has long been absent from the Central Ohio Pizza landscape.

After years away from Columbus, the Nebraska-based chain is making a triumphant comeback, according to Columbus Business First. Godfather's has opened an express location inside the Love’s Travel Stop and Country Store at 6023 Alum Creek Dr. in Obetz.

The newly-minted store will serve seven speciality pizzas, as well as a Hawaiian pizza—all with Godfather's signature “buttery pan-style” crust. For now, pies are available for pickup, with online ordering available.

Grab a slice and celebrate this delicious comeback!

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