Connect with us


Behind the Best: Roosters

Every year for our May issue, (614) Magazine tallies up more than a million votes from our readers that result in businesses and people around central Ohio being crowned “The ColumBest” in their respective categories. From brunches and buffets, to bands and bloggers; we look to the readers to tell us who is deserving of [...]
Jeni Ruisch



Every year for our May issue, (614) Magazine tallies up more than a million votes from our readers that result in businesses and people around central Ohio being crowned “The ColumBest” in their respective categories. From brunches and buffets, to bands and bloggers; we look to the readers to tell us who is deserving of the city’s culinary and commercial crowns. With well over a hundred categories, we don’t have the space necessary to give the lip service we want to each winner. The frontrunners in their categories get recognition and applause, and then, being the hardest grinding bosses in the biz, they get right back to work.

But we want to dive a little deeper into the story.

It’s time to take a closer look at the stories behind the best Columbus has to offer. Starting with a little joint where we like to shed all pretense and expectations.

Technically, Rooster’s started in Dayton in 1988, but its rapid expansion to central Ohio after that makes them a default local favorite.

Started by Bob and Corrine Frick, it was intended to be a family-friendly, neighborhood joint where people could head after a softball game, or gather for birthday brews. It was casual by design, and that remains a guiding principle of their business to this day, 30 years later. That and their famously fresh (and never frozen) wings.

The success of the formula resulted in a second location in Columbus on Hamilton Road, followed by the now-classic location in German Village. It was here that Dan Ponton joined the team as an owner, and today he is the president of the company.

Which is one of the aspects of Roosters that draws it apart from other restaurants: an extremely low turnover rate. In a high-pressure business like a restaurant, it’s normal to have employees come and go like the seasons, but Roosters boasts a loyal staff of seasoned vets. They have 40 20-year employees, 52 15-year employees; and 78 10-year employees. That first location in Dayton still has one of its original employees, a chef, with 28 years of service, and a manager with 22. Among the service industry, these are Tom Brady-like stats.

And the family feeling goes even deeper than that. Only hiring from within, every manager and corporate-level suit was once a host or dishwasher, who moved up in the ranks to sling drinks and wings for patrons. This fosters an appreciation for each worker in a way no corporate sensitivity training ever could. Ask a Roosters employee about their company, and they will gush in a way uncharacteristic for someone who works in their field. We heard stories of an employee sadly losing his mom, and the president of the company paying for funeral expenses. Store-sponsored fundraisers galore have been held for employees and long-time regulars. At the Pickerington location alone, they held four benefit events in one year for four of their employees going through personal and family crises. One of the benefits was for an employee’s husband, who started out as a long time regular at the restaurant. Managers worked the bar, donating their tips, and employees paid forward all their earning from the day to help a fellow Rooster in need. Roosters has a “give back” mentality that leads them to constantly give prizes for non-profits and charities to raffle and giveaways.

They regularly work to benefit Ronald McDonald House, Children’s Hospital, and The 2nd and 7 Foundation, and partner with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Crew SC to work toward larger community goals. The Roosters Foundation proudly supports the Buckeye Cruise for Cancer with The James Cancer Hospital, which benefits the Urban and Shelley Meyer Fund for Cancer Research, contributing over $650,000 to date. “Honesty, integrity, dependability and personality are the cornerstones to the foundation” of their business.

If that’s not Midwestern, I don’t know what is.

In addition to their famous wings and sauces, Roosters carries healthy and indulgent, all-American options, and an extensive list of local and global beers. With 38 locations, and number 39 opening this July, Roosters is more than just a place to get wings. (614) readers voted them first place standings in four categories: Best Wings, Best Place to Eat at the Bar, Best Wait Staff, and Best Sports Bar. Not to mention their second and third place wins in multiple other categories. Year after year, they sweep the winnings. There’s just something special about a place where you can take the kids after little league, go on a date night, or take relatives out for a family-size bite, where you’ll know everyone can get exactly what they want.

For more, visit

Continue Reading

Food & Drink

Clintonville Brunch Crawl: We dare you to squeeze all 3 stops into 1 day




Clintonville is lovely this time of year, especially when you make three separate stops for brunch. 

Whether the weather is gracing the charming little burgh with a healthy dose of vitamin D or giving it a couple spins around the Lazy Susan that is Ohio’s climate, a trifecta of morning food destinations is sure to keep your mood afloat.

BLunch  • 2973 N High St.

Yes, we know that Columbus now is home to a Drunch AND a BLunch.

Snicker all ya want—if you do, you’d be missing out on one of the culinary scene’s welcome newcomers—a half-day cafe that carries the comforts of a First Watch, but with the sophisticated execution of Tasi or Katalina’s.

The White Family has decades of hospitality under their belt—the family owned Galena’s Mudflats until recently, and dad Jeff has been running the OSU Faculty Club for the past 20 years.

Those two were training grounds for son Jeff, once a young, eager dishwasher and now head chef for the White’s new “daylight eatery and bar.” Mom Jane, despite her own admission that in the family’s tavern-running days breakfast didn’t get served until halfway through afternoon, now relishes an intimate spot where people can maintain their own balance between booze and breakfast.

A full-bar at brunch is a rarity in the peculiar little burg, and positioned near Lineage, Old Skool, and Condado, BLunch could be the perfect starting point for a casual Clintonville crawl.

Then again, you may not have another stop after Chef Jeff gets done with ya. He and the White family have concepted a bennies-and-batter focused menu, where you’ll be sure to come back after a healthy amount of indecision. Me? I’ve been dreaming about the Bananas Foster pancakes (topped with ice cream) and the huevos rancheros over masa cake for weeks. – Travis Hoewischer


Dough Mama • 3335 N High St.

Dough Mama is the top of my list for my favorite breakfast joint. I love so much about this place.

The atmosphere is super chill, laid back, and inviting. The food is so so good. I would call it comfort food with an extra sprinkle of love and thought.

From pie to salad, it’s all good.

They use a variety of local and seasonal ingredients and support some of my favorite local delicacies with Dan the Baker bread and Thunderkiss coffee … YUM! They also have a variety of vegan and gluten-free options.

I am smitten with the Gluten-Free Lemon Poppy muffin. This place is my go to for a yummy drippy egg, roasted potatoes, salad, a sweet treat and a perfect cup of coffee.


My husband loves Grammie’s Sammie and a piece of Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie. I somehow manage to splurge here and feel really really good about it.

Their menu has some great staples but they also always have specials that look and are amazing.

Right now they serve both lunch and breakfast during the day and I’ve heard it through the grapevine that they will soon be open in the evening and serving dinner. I cannot wait to see what delicious dishes they create for that menu. – Jana Rock

Baba’s • 2515 Summit St.

Baba’s is my go-to breakfast spot in Columbus. You can grab a breakfast sandwich on their homemade griddle muffins (aka little pillows of heaven), order a rack of ribs, or in the spirit of Alabama Worley, have a slice of perfect pie and a cup of Thunderkiss coffee.

Their delicious baked goods are made in house, they smoke all of their own meats and their produce and coffee are all sourced locally, though their espresso will send you to the moon.

The service is fast, their team is super-friendly and there are never any pretentious vibes in the super chill atmosphere they have created on the corner of Hudson and Summit.

They’ve made a beautiful impact in their short existence in the SoHud neighborhood, fostering local artistic connections and bringing beautiful new mural art that rotates different artist from the community throughout the year. Don’t forget to grab one of their perfect cinnamon rolls for later. — Vanessa Jean Speckman

Continue Reading

Food & Drink

Harvest Pizzeria sowing last seeds in German Village




Eight years ago, Harvest Pizzeria cropped up in a small space in German Village. Today, the local pizza chain announced the closure of its flagship location.

Harvest Pizzeria German Village will open its doors for the final time on Saturday, April 27th.

“Despite the success of Harvest in German Village and our strong ties to the neighborhood, the owner of the property will not honor our renewal of the lease,” wrote founder Chris Crader in an email. “…the landlord’s demands for a new lease at a higher rate would not allow our little pizzeria to remain viable.


Crader added that he is proud of the strides Harvest German Village has made over the years, and thankful for the community that’s supported it. He hopes they can return to the neighborhood when the right spot presents itself.

As far as the employees go, Crader wrote that with the success of the other locations, the German Village workers will be able to join a team at another restaurant.

“Harvest sincerely thanks all of its loyal supporters and we hope to see you at our other locations soon,” wrote Crader.

This news follows the announcement of the Grandview Harvest closing back in February. Read more here.

Continue Reading

Food & Drink

Crawfish boils claw their way into Columbus Saturday

Mike Thomas



What’s the deal with crawfish boils? Sure, they’re delicious, but as a true land-lubbing midwesterner, my knowledge of this particular culinary phenomenon is fairly lacking.

That said, I definitely can’t tell you why there are multiple crawfish boils going down this Saturday. Best not to overthink it—just enjoy the experience!

Pecan Penny’s |113 East Main Street
Saturday at 4 PM – 7 PM

Sponsored by Brewdog, downtown BBQ joint Pecan Penny’s is kicking off patio season with an all-you-can-eat Crawfish boil, complete with giveaways and a DJ.


Rehab Tavern | 456 W Town St
2 PM – 6 PM

Rehab’s own 4/20 crawfish boil kicks off at 2:00. Your $15.75 entrance fee will net you a pint of beer in addition to all-you-can-eat crawfish and fixins’!

Can’t make either of these, or want to try the boil experience before committing to a large-scale event? Check out Kai’s Crab Boil or Boiling Seafood Crawfish—both on Bethel Road —for first-rate seafood experiences you won’t soon forget.

Why are there two crawfish boils on the same day? Why are there two crawfish restaurants on the same road? We may never know, and honestly, who cares? Crawfish is the bomb! Just put on your bib and get crackin’!

Continue Reading