Connect with us


Strip Mall Surprise: Over The Counter

Welcome back to Strip Mall Surprise, where we identify the hidden gems that make Columbus shine. The only requirement? They have to be in a strip mall. In this edition, we will celebrate the 1950s diner culture, neighborhood gathering places and good old fashioned American fare with a modern twist. This story takes place in [...]
Aaron Wetli



Welcome back to Strip Mall Surprise, where we identify the hidden gems that make Columbus shine. The only requirement? They have to be in a strip mall. In this edition, we will celebrate the 1950s diner culture, neighborhood gathering places and good old fashioned American fare with a modern twist. This story takes place in a defunct pharmacy and a patio happens to be involved. Don’t lie, you’re already interested.

It’s difficult to manufacture and produce a brand-new concept with soul and depth. Some can pull off this feat and close for reasons out of their control (RIP Betty’s) and some fail to produce character but thrive regardless of product or circumstance (I’m looking at you, Easton Town Center). The world is an unfair place and opening and running restaurants can prove as daunting and exhausting as getting the local MLS Soccer Club to not leave town.

Fourteen months ago, Molly Rice and her managing partners found the energy and stamina to match their vision of opening a retro diner with modern touches. Located on (way) North High Street—where Clintonville kisses Worthington, Over The Counter the neighborhood gathering place, watering hole, and restaurant is all character.

The original plan was to name OTC “The Pharmacy,” as Rice and company wanted to pay homage to the Nicklaus Pharmacy, a local drug store with a fountain jerk (Google it, millennials), that was the building’s original tenant. However, the Pharmaceutical Board of Ohio didn’t think this was a good idea and fought Rice to block the name. Lighten up, Pharmacy industry.

Still, OTC stays true to its roots and has centered its energy, layout, and decor around a bar that could easily pass for a fountain soda counter. This bar runs almost the entirety of the south side of the restaurant while the remaining portion of the restaurant is outfitted with retro looking tables and booths. Towards the front of the restaurant is a retro chic lounge area that 1950s hipsters would feel at home in.

Behind the bar, 10 taps are available (I enjoyed a Rockmill Pilsner), nine serving craft and one tap keeping it real with PBR, as well as a fully stocked bar available to make in-house craft cocktails. The selection is impressive, and unpretentious, which is the vibe Rice was aiming for. She wants you to come in and feel at home whether you are with a group of friends, eating dinner alone, sipping a whiskey quietly in the corner, or enjoying happy hour with the regulars.

Speaking of enjoying happy hour with regulars, on my particular visit I ran into neighborhood residents and OTC regulars Mike Shehata and Shelley McCoy, both of whom I occasionally claim as friends. Upon entering, both were warmly greeted by Rice who immediately grabbed a Michelob Ultra for her and a Watershed vodka and Soda for him. Soda jerk: upgraded.

Who can blame regulars for coming in for the occasional happy hour when it is such a bargain? Running from 2–7 p.m. DAILY (come on Columbus bars and restaurants, get on the daily happy hour train) drink specials half-off most beers, $1 off house liquor and $4.50 select wines. Food specials start at 8 p.m. when appetizers are half off.

As more regulars trickled in, we moved our party to the patio to accommodate our growing group. On our Wednesday night visit, the patio contained a family of three enjoying some quality time together, a retired couple having an early dinner, and two 30-somethings enjoying the sun and some suds. Diverse, family-friendly, and welcome to all—just as Rice planned.

For dinner, I decided to go with the Pulled Pork sandwich. Topped with crispy and juicy onion rings, the pork was succulent and tender. I subbed out chips and upgraded to the mac & cheese (the diet starts next week) which contained provolone, cheddar, swiss and cream cheeses and was topped with breadcrumbs. A nice addition to this platter was the rich and creamy coleslaw. Full disclosure: I could eat coleslaw with every meal, which according to my wife makes me the world’s oldest 41-year-old.

OTC also serves brunch on the weekends. Beginning at 9:30 a.m., the building fills up quickly and it’s not uncommon to have a small wait for a table by 10:30. One reason? The homemade donuts. Another reason? The chicken and waffles. A third reason? The service, quality and ambiance. A fourth reason? You don’t need any more reasons.

Lunch specials have also been recently introduced. For $7.49, you can pick two items from a list of salads, soups and sandwiches. I believe I can speak for all the north Columbus educators out there when I salute OTC for a budget- and time-friendly, yet high quality lunch.

For the music aficionados in the crowd, it should be noted that Rice has started booking bluegrass bands, too. Bands play in the front lounge area and although there is no set schedule as of yet, Rice received great feedback from patrons and is looking to make live music a regularly scheduled event. I would recommend the American Mule (Tito’s vodka, lime juice, ginger beer) for an evening of enjoying local music at a new local hot spot.

Speaking of local, OTC partners with local distributors whenever possible. Lucky Cat Bakery, One-Line Coffee, Petali Teas and Scherer’s Potato Chips are all represented and help OTC keep its local appeal.

OTC has a little something for everyone and more restaurateurs would be well served by adopting Rice’s philosophy and commitment to quality food and drinks while simultaneously supporting and involving the local community. Get your fix for local filled at Over The Counter. And maybe your donut, prescription too.

Over the Counter is located at 5596 N High St. For more, visit

Continue Reading

Food & Drink

Sips of Summer: 12 picks to quench your thirst




When it gets hot, you gotta find a way to deal, and we at 614NOW understand and sympathize. Here are our recommendations to help you cool down when the temperatures rise.

16-Bit | Hulk Hogan
What’s more summery than lemonade? Boozy lemonade. And what’s more summery than boozy lemonade? Dropping in a frozen red, white, and blue bomb pop in the center of the drink! The iconic popsicle from your childhood is back and you’re gonna need a front row seat to your own sip down, brother!

Matt the Miller | Blueberry Basil Limoncello Martini
Skip the regular menu. Here’s a martini for brunch instead! Two of summer’s favorite flavors come together in one glass with Stoli Blueberry and Limoncello, along with basil, lemon juice and simple syrup.

The Bottle Shop | Carribean Queen
The Bottle Shop is known to whip up just about any creation you can think of, and their tiki drinks are quintessential summer vibes. Of course, the classic mai tai is available in these aesthetically pleasing tiki glasses, but our eyes are all on the Carribean queen. The drink boasts a savory over sweet flavor profile thanks to the Rum Zacapa 23 as well as the orgeat (almond syrup) which provides a slight nutty taste. The drink also features earl grey tea-infused falernum to add a floral profile, plus some mint sprigs to garnish.

Standard Hall | Red Sangria
Nothing says summer like a cool glass of sweet sangria. Standard Hall’s Red Sangria is a blend of Pinot Noir, Triple Sec, Absolut Grapefruit, lemon juice, lime juice, and marinated fruit. It comes in a single serving, but once your friends catch a glimpse, they’ll want more than a gulp, so go for the shareable size.

Hubbard Grille | Agave Cooler
Now that you’re grown, hopefully you’ve graduated from stealing your mom’s wine coolers and embarked on a new adult beverage endeavor. But, now we’re sending you back to your roots with Hubbard Grille’s Agave Cooler with A New Amsterdam Vodka, pure agave, pink grapefruit and lime juices, fresh basil; served on the rocks. Your mother would be proud.

Oddfellows | Lushie
With new options nearly every week, Oddfellows’ lushies are a sure fire way to beat the heat this summer. This frozen drink is similar to a slushie you’d find at a gas station, but it’s been upgraded with boujee flavors and booze. Options like The Carter have been featured in the past which is a mixture of Bumbu rum, creme de cacao, and lemon making for a bright orange cocktail perfect for the patio.

Asterisk | Asterisk Orchid
Take time to stop and smell the roses (or the orchids) this summer. From the Asterisk proprietary cocktail menu, a choice of vodka or gin, St. Germain, with notes of lime, rose, and cucumber. A flower in a glass!

Local Cantina | Mango Manzana Margarita
How can you go out for Mexican food without getting a marg to sip on the patio? The Mango Manzana Margarita combines Patrón Silver and Patrón Mango Citrónage with agave, lime, lemonade, and is garnished with an apple slice and a luxardo cherry. By our counts, that’s at least three servings of fruit per glass.


Two Truths | Penicillin
This is one penicillin shot that even staunch anti-vaxxers will won’t be able to resist. With two scotches serving as a base for this ginger and fresh-lemon infused cocktail, penicillin at Two Truths is good for what ails you!

Huli Huli Tiki Lounge | The Painkiller
And if Penicillin can’t solve what ails you, a good old Painkiller should just about do the trick. This island-inspired cocktail features Sailor Jerry’s Spiced Rum with pineapple, coconut, and orange with the option to have it served on the rocks, or frozen. Beyond a drink that will take your mind straight to the beach, the bright pink flower garnish coupled with a pineapple slice and a speared cherry makes this drink every bit Instagrammable as it is drinkable.

Light of the Seven Matchsticks | Running with Scissors and Playing with Matchsticks
This signature cocktail at this exclusive speakeasy is everything your mother warned you about. One sip of this high-falutin’ mixture of brown-buttered bourbon, Dolin Dry, Benedictine, and a house ancho syrup, and you’ll see why rules were made to be broken.

The Market Italian Village | Barrel-aged Negroni
Go native while visiting Italian village with this twist on the classic drink from the boot-shaped old country. Vim and Petal Heritage Blend Gin join Cynar 70, Sherry, and Apricot in this smoky, barrel- aged cocktail—Maddon’, that’s good!

Continue Reading

Food & Drink

10 Restaurant Week destinations for date night out




Sometimes just getting out of the house is the priority. Other times, getting out of the house without the kids is the priority. When that time strikes, get the sitter on lock and hit the town.

Restaurant Week July 15-20 is the perfect time to reconnect with your significant other without breaking the bank. Here are our top 10 picks for date night out during Restaurant Week!

South Village Grille | 197 Thurman Ave, Columbus

South Village Grille is a romantic little spot tucked in a happening strip of Thurman Avenue. During Restaurant Week, indulge in oysters (aphrodisiac), scallops, and even pork chops. Round out your night out with beignets.

Wolf’s Ridge Brewing | 215 N 4th St, Columbus

You may have been to the taproom out back, but have you dined in the front? It’s a beautiful space where beautiful food is served, like lamb racks and Black Forest Chocolate Cake.

Trillium Kitchen & Patio | 2333 N High St, Columbus

Trillium is a modern kitchen with a splendid patio, often times hosting live entertainment! Wine and dine your loved one with Trillium’s diverse wine list, tasty Restaurant Week menu, and romantic digs.

The Keep Kitchen & Liquor Bar | 50 West Broad Street Mezzanine Level, Columbus

With the watermelon salad in the first course, BBQ chicken in the second, and strawberry shortcake for the third, this summer-time menu will be the perfect seasonal date. And the dark wood ambiance will make you want to cozy up close to your date.


The Boat House at Confluence Park | 679 W Spring St, Columbus

Suggested wine pairings with every course during Restaurant Week will help direct you and your lover down a path of sensuality. And if you’re lucky enough to get seated by the fireplace, the heat will turn up even more, literally.

M at Miranova | 2 Miranova Pl, Columbus

M recently underwent a stunning remodeling that is sure to wow your date. The menu features both surf and turf, so your taste buds will be wowed, as well.

Asterisk | 14 N State St, Westerville

This intimate supper club will really encourage you to relight the flame between you and your significant other. And with familiar favorites like ravioli, meatloaf, and chicken pot pie, you’ll go back to your roots and remember why you feel in love in the first place.

Lindey’s | 169 E Beck St, Columbus

We know it’s hot outside, but Lindey’s patio is worth the sauna experience. This restaurant is the epitome of romance and can be yours to experience for just $35 during Restaurant Week.

Spagio | 1295 Grandview Ave, Columbus

Spagio is the perfect spot for a nice dinner and, with a window on Grandview Avenue, people watching. Let the conversations flow over seafood, pastas, and prime cuts of steak during Restaurant Week.

The Market Italian Village | 1022 Summit St, Columbus

For a fun, light-hearted date with lots of character, this is your destination. Exceptional quality, outstanding service, and approachable atmosphere: The Market Italian Village.

Continue Reading

Food & Drink

Newly-remodeled M at Miranova has the most unique cocktails ever

Laura Dachenbach



After a quick spring break, M at Miranova is back and open to the public with a new look, shedding its old browns and bronzes for pops of purple and elegant, cooling grays. The 18-year-old fine dining establishment is ready to show off a beautiful wooden floor, its terrace with spectacular views of the river and the city, its lounge made for an evening of small bites, an almost complete menu change, and its new line of seasonal signature cocktails.

Two Ships (Photos by Brian Kaiser)

Developed by award-winning bartender Cris Dehlavi and the beverage team, the line showcases the classic flavors of summer: coconut, pineapple, lemon, and rum.

M at Miranova aims to welcome all, and the line covers a spectrum of tastes. There’s something for everyone at your table, from the light, refreshing oral mix to the heavier, spirits-forward drink, all with an emphasis on superb and fun presentation.

“Gone are the days of the plain old glass,” said Dehlavi from behind the bar, bringing forth her concoctions.

Magic Elixer

The appropriately-named Magic Elixir, a beautiful balance of spirits and flavors, comes to your table as a blue liquid (thanks to butter y pea tea) poured over ice and garnished with flowers. Your server will add a vial of lemon tableside and ask you to stir as chemistry turns the drink a beautiful lavender. Botanist gin and an aloe vera liqueur give the drink a taste as sophisticated and surprising as its presentation.

“There’s nothing like the look on somebody’s face when you put something down in front of them like that,” said Dehlavi.


The AHA!, a simple and refreshing drink combines a California Brut sparkling with pineapple and coconut flavors, and comes served in light- bulb shaped glassware, a nod to its moment of creative inspiration.

“We really wanted a low-proof cocktail, and kept playing with different ideas. Nothing was working,” said Dehlavi. “My daughter loves coconut water and she had coconut water in the fridge one day and I had a swig of it […] and I thought, ‘What about pineapple liqueur, coconut water, and bubbles?’ and it worked.”


Ordered solo, the Two Ships combines Don Pancho rum, amaro, banana, and bitters over whiskey rocks. Ordered for two (or as a taster for four), the drink comes in a globe suspended on a wooden stand containing a blown glass ship and a bit of dry ice for effect.

The creamy You’ve Met Your Matcha and the rich Great Vieux round out the summer line. Your server will snap a Polaroid of the latter, but each of the drinks plays to an audience of Instagrammers, so your own phone is welcome, too. After all, it’s an experience—an impressive, yet accessible array of cocktails, and Dehlavi notes a few are already starting to become favorites.

You’ve Met Your Matcha

“I think presentation is super-important,” said Dehlavi. “We take a real culinary approach to our cocktails. Just like a culinary approach to food, you can put a piece of salmon on a plate with some asparagus and there it is, or you can make it gorgeous. And we always think about that with cocktails, too.”

M at Miranova is at 2 Miranova Pl. To book a reservation, visit

Continue Reading

No mo’ FOMO

Missing out sucks. That's why our daily email is so important. You'll be up-to-date on the latest happenings and things to do in Cbus + be the first to snag our daily giveaways

Shop Now!

The Magazines