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Westside Wonkaville

What could be more American than ice cream—or more Columbus than unexpected combinations like Blackberry and Cheese, Goat Milk Caramel, or Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Sponge Cake? Ricardo Sandoval is the Westside’s own Willy Wonka, and Dulce Vida is his fabled factory. At least, that’s the plan for the local ice cream entrepreneur whose journey is as [...]
J.R. McMillan

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What could be more American than ice cream—or more Columbus than unexpected combinations like Blackberry and Cheese, Goat Milk Caramel, or Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Sponge Cake?

Ricardo Sandoval is the Westside’s own Willy Wonka, and Dulce Vida is his fabled factory. At least, that’s the plan for the local ice cream entrepreneur whose journey is as American as his flavors are authentic to his childhood homeland.

Opening amid minimal fuss late last year, the traditional Mexican paleteria is already poised to expand to two additional locations in Columbus, and is positioning for a push to new markets in the near future.

“You see this type of ice cream throughout Mexico, but this kind originated in Michoacán,” Sandoval explained, noting that companies like Unilever and Nestle operate extensively in Mexico, but don’t use the same quality of ingredients as family-owned shops. “If you order their ice cream, you won’t get a chunk of strawberry or mango. You get concentrates at best, or artificial flavors—fake flavors.”

Sandoval and his business partners researched similar shops in Chicago before deciding to bring the concept to Ohio. The prevalence of Mexican immigrants, and businesses that serve them, put West Broad Street on the map as an initial location—but Cleveland Avenue and East Main Street offer similar clientele and potential for the next two locations. The owners are also scouting Toledo, hoping to have a dozen regional locations within the next three years.

“Not so long ago, you might find one Mexican restaurant in a town; now you can find several. We really think it’s going to be a lot like that with Mexican ice cream,” Sandoval said. “Our concept is designed to be a franchise model based in Columbus. We plan to build the company here and expand the same way Mexican restaurants did throughout the Midwest.”

Dulce Vida’s ice cream is made with 18 percent butterfat, creating a density that is more decadent than most fans of American ice cream may expect.

The flavors are also more complex than simply sweet— like the saltiness of the Cojita in the Queso Con Zarzamora (Blackberry and Cheese), the tang of the goat milk in the Cajetoso (Caramel), or the vaguely familiar Gansito (named for the Mexican snack cake that is a lot like a Twinkie, but with strawberry and cream filling, then dipped in chocolate).

But they offer more than just ice cream, like Paletas (fresh fruit popsicles surrounded by milk or sweetened syrup) and Aguas Frescas (the frozen drink cousin of the paletas in similar flavors). For something decidedly different, try the Mangonadas—layers of mango sorbet and fresh cubed mango mixed with savory chamoy sauce and stick of tart tamarind.

“Our Mexican customers already know most of our flavors and understand our business, so we’re slowly starting to reach out to those who don’t,” he noted, as well as the recent addition of English translations for most of the menu. “People from other countries are willing to try new things. Tropical fruits like nanche aren’t commonly found in ice cream, and our pine nut is very popular. But our Asian and African customers especially are open to new flavors.”

Sandoval’s own story is as inspired as his ice cream. Having immigrated to Ohio as a teenager to work for the same tomato farm his father had for three decades, he quickly moved from the field to the factory—cooking and canning tomatoes and learning English along the way. The University of Findley’s hospitality management major eventually offered the acumen and insight to match Sandoval’s ambition and initiative.

His Mexican roots and market research made the selection of Columbus obvious, but no less ironic. The temperance movement was also born locally, long before prohibition. The Anti-Saloon League of America established their headquarters here in 1909, still celebrated by a small plaque in the back of the Dairy Queen in downtown Westerville—that’s also no coincidence. Among their less incendiary initiatives (prohibitionists blew up the only bar in town, twice), the organization also promoted “dairy bars” as a more moral alternative to the pub with a religious fervor. There’s actually history behind Ohio’s preponderance of ice cream parlors and persistence of laws limiting Sunday sales of alcohol.

Aside from Ohio’s lingering fixation with frozen confections, there’s also a cultural component to Dulce Vida’s brisk weekend business. The lulls that leave the former HoneyBaked Ham location almost empty midweek are offset by a line that winds out the door, particularly on Sundays. It’s a faithful ritual that illustrates the multi-generational appeal and allure of gathering together with extended family for something so simple as an afternoon ice cream. Parents and grandparents clamor to share the nostalgia with their children and grandchildren in a setting that looks and feels like someone took an authentic Mexican paleteria from their own youth and transported it to central Ohio.

“When we hire teenagers from the neighborhood who came here when they were so little, they don’t have many memories of Mexico,” Sandoval explained. “When they work here, when their friends and family come here, we’re reconnecting them to a small part of their culture, right here in Columbus.”

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Food & Drink

National Brisket Day is Tomorrow!

Julian Foglietti

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Photo by Brian Kaiser

With meat shortages starting to take their toll and National Brisket Day around the corner here's a roundup of some spots you can go to to get your brisket fix.

Legacy Smoke House

With their main location in Hilliard and a food truck moving throughout the city, Legacy Smoke House is a solid choice for brisket on National Brisket Day, just be sure to get there while supplies last. Enjoy!

Pecan Pennys

Just off Main Street, Pecan Pennys is ready to fulfill your brisket needs. If your looking to feed a family though be sure to get your orders in advance as they're requesting 24 hours notice on dinner bundles.

Ray-Ray's Hog Pit

With locations in Franklinton, Westerville, Clintonville and Powell Ray Ray's Hog Pit is open for business with brisket stocked at all locations. #NationalBrisketDay is the best day!

Hoggy’s Restaurant and Catering

Located on Bethel Road, Hoggy’s will be stocking brisket for both dine-in or carryout. Feel free to stop in or stop by!

The Pit

With a new location opened up on Parsons Ave. The Pit BBQ will be offering brisket for the National day. Celebrate with some tasty brisket!

City Barbeque

City Barbeque will be offering brisket for the National day! So get excited and get ready for some yummy BBQ brisket!

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Community

{UPDATED} Indoor Dining: what’s NOT opening?

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Los Gauchos

PINS Mechanical Co.

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Hey Pinheads. We're so excited to hear that our world is beginning to reopen! Many of you have reached out asking about our opening plans so we wanted to provide a brief update on Pins Mechanical Co. While we fully trust and support the decisions of our local leaders, it’s our responsibility to ensure the health and safety of our team members and guests, while not sacrificing the experience that makes Pins, Pins! With that in mind, none of our locations will be opening in May. There are many unknowns with COVID-19 and we hope that taking this extra time will help our guests and teammates feel better about the measures we’ve put in place to keep all of us safe. For example, on top of our already stringent cleaning procedures, we’re installing UV technology at all locations (ensuring you always have clean balls to play with). We’re looking forward to welcoming back our kick-ass team to train and adjust to this new normal. Once our people feel comfortable + confident, we’ll know it’s time to get rollin’ again! Thank you for your incredible support, online sales, photo shares + kind words over the last two months. Even when you couldn’t show up, you showed up and we’ll never forget it! We’re hopeful that everyone will be safe and smart as we begin to reopen the doors to the small businesses that make our communities so special. See you soon, Pinheads!

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Old North Arcade

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Dear friends, . As you are most likely aware, Governor DeWine has permitted the reopening of bars and restaurants for dine-in seating effective 5/21. We are very grateful that our leadership is now offering businesses the choice to do what they think is right. We offer no judgment for the bars and restaurants that are/have chosen to open. However, for our particular business, and for our staff, we still think it's too early. We are going to remain closed this week and next but do hope to open soon. Your understanding and patience is greatly appreciated and we cannot wait to see you all. It is important to us that we apply an extra layer of safety and precaution on top of the govermental recommendations. Tentatively, we are looking at the end of May to reopen in a very limited capacity but we're following local and national developments very closesly so will be quick to bail if things turn south. Your continued support has been quite humbling. Thank you. Stay healthy, support local, and be more than kind to one another. . Cautiously optimistic, . ONA Staff

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Watershed Kitchen + Bar

101 Beer kitchen

They are delaying opening dine-in service until May 26th.

Matt the Miller's Tavern

Stay tuned on social for patio and dine-in updates!

J. Gumbo's

J. Gumbo's will continue to stay open for online ordering for pick up and delivery - stay tuned for dine-in updates.

Mouton on High

The Whitney House

The Whitney House will be opening Tuesday, June 2, 2020 at 11 am.

The Guild House

Stay tuned for opening dates!

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Stay safe everyone 💕

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Smoked On High

Dirty Frank's Hot Dog Palace

The Woodbury

The Woodbury will be opening its doors for dine-in service on June 1 2020.

Roosters

Roosters are not opening dine-in until May 26th 2020.

The Eagle

The Eagle is temporarily closed - stay tuned on social for updates!

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In light of the government mandated closure of dine-in business for an indeterminable period of time, we’ve made the incredibly hard decision to temporarily close The Eagle Columbus. . Given the truly unprecedented and quickly evolving nature of this health crisis, we’ve been forced to make the best decisions we can, with the information we have. As the true scale of this crisis has been revealed, it’s become impossible to deny the impact this mandate will have on our business and team members. This decision was made as all of our decisions have been: with the health, happiness, well being and best interests of our guests and team members in mind. . The state of Thunderdome Restaurant Group is strong and we look forward to seeing and serving you all on the other side of this. Truth, courage, and be well.

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Lavash Cafe

Tiger + Lily

Tiger + Lily is sticking to carry out for the time being. Follow them on social for updates for dine-in!

Yats Grandview

Red Lobster

Red Lobster is continuing to stick to curbside pickup, delivery, or touchless pick-up.

Harvest Pizza

Bareburger Columbus

Bareburger is opening for dine-in on May 26th, 2020.

Mezze

City Barbeque

Local Cantina - Creekside, Grandview, Dublin, Westerville, Hilliard Locations

Creekside Local Cantina is delaying opening indoor dining until May 26, 2020.

OH Pizza and Brew

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Coronavirus

Don’t be that guy/gal who forces your favorite bar/restaurant to permanently close; here are the rules

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Once the flood of COVID-related documentaries start to infiltrate our Netflix and Hulu feeds, one of the most debated topics will be which smoking gun the auteur chooses. NBA player Rudy Gobert recklessly rubbing his hands over every microphone during a press conference days before testing positive comes to mind first. The spring break bro who wouldn’t let the virus stop him from raging will make its rounds. Even the scene at Standard Hall made some people’s skin crawl.

The Ohio Investigative Unit will be doing its best to monitor situations at restaurants and bars in order to prevent any future anecdotes like the ones listed above. Local law enforcement agencies will be assisting the OIU to make sure that establishments are complying with the Dine Safe Ohio order. With the issues that were brought up following the opening of outside dining on May 15, the OIU has made specific stipulations for patrons to follow:

  • 6-foot social distancing between employees AND members of the public
  • patrons must be seated while eating and/or drinking 
  • no more than 10 people to a table
  • no billiards, video/arcade games, dancing, or card playing
  • patrons must follow specific guidelines put in place by restaurant/bar

For those who have no shame dancing by themselves in public, you’re golden. However, patrons can be written up for not following the OIU’s guidelines. 

Some people may be able to shoulder a citation, but bars and restaurants are the ones who have the most to lose here. In a press conference on May 18, Gov. Mike DeWine mentioned that OIU will issue citations that could result in the permanent loss of liquor licenses.

So once again the ball is in the consumer’s court: follow these very simple rules and avoid the risk of putting your favorite restaurants and bars out of business for good. In 2020, being spring break bro is the worst look.

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