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Few foods are as fabled or fickle as the tomato. Too much water and they spot, too much sun and they rot, and the ones in the grocery store always pale in comparison to those you buy off a tailgate or on the side of the road. That’s where you’ll find Dick Capuano most days [...]
J.R. McMillan

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Few foods are as fabled or fickle as the tomato.

Too much water and they spot, too much sun and they rot, and the ones in the grocery store always pale in comparison to those you buy off a tailgate or on the side of the road.

That’s where you’ll find Dick Capuano most days from late April to early September. His homegrown tomato stand adorned in traditional Italian green, white, and red is on the same stretch of land his ancestors settled more than a century ago.

“I grew up here. Mom and Dad always had a garden, so I always had a rototiller in my hands,” he recalled. “I love tomatoes, and once people have a homegrown one, they keep coming back for them.”

You won’t find San Margherita on every map, and if you drive through too fast, you might miss it entirely. The tiny unincorporated village, just west of the Scioto River, was founded by Italian immigrants who toiled in the nearby quarry. They eventually built homes and planted gardens along the edge of what is now Trabue Road. Most of the original settlers had ties to the same province in the old country, whose patron Saint Margaret inspired the name of their new community.

“Everyone who lived here between the two tracks grew something, and maybe had chickens, a hog, or a cow. It’s how they got by and survived,” Capuano explained. “It’s how San Margherita stayed San Margherita. Everyone had their own grapes and made their own wine, they grew plenty of vegetables, and they all had plenty to eat.”

Development is slowly swallowing those plots of land and the heritage of those who once lived there. There are only a handful of descendants of the first families still living or working in San Margherita. Some of the land remains idle, and still supports farms like Capuano’s, where his better years have boasted upwards of nearly 2,000 plants. Most of these are varieties of tomatoes, but various peppers and signature grapes are always in high demand.

“My time is up October 15, which is after the end of the season,” he explained, hoping that the land’s new owners might let him keep planting depending on their timeline for development. “I really don’t know what’s going to happen next year.”

It’s not the first time Capuano has faced such uncertainty and seeming futility. During his tour in Vietnam, it was his responsibility to remove roadside mines and clear the way for convoys, only to do the same thing the following day after fresh mines were planted under the cloak of night. A firefight earned him a Purple Heart, but he’s put more than his share of blood and sweat into his tomato stand only to see it threatened by another invisible enemy.

“I used to sell out of the garage,” he recalled. “But in 2005 I moved closer to the road and the stand has been here ever since.”

Capuano keeps it simple and predictable. Crops grow on the same soil year after year. He turns under the plants to go back into the soil over the winter and repeats the process the following spring, planting fresh tomato plants entirely by hand.

Only tomato enthusiasts can truly appreciate the depth of his bench, like baseball cards lined up on a giant table waiting to be discovered by a new generation of loyal fans. From contemporary classics like Early Girls and Carolina Gold to vintage heirloom varieties like Kellogg’s Breakfast and Gigantesque, if you can’t find the perfect taste and texture of tomato, you’re just not looking.

“I pull them before they get too big and start to split, then let them ripen the rest of the way on my porch before bringing them to the stand,” he explained. “But the rain we’ve had the past couple of weeks combined with the heat means this is the last of them.”

Don’t count Capuano out too soon. His cousin Joe still has a plot of land just down the road, and though it’s increasingly hard for anyone his age to plan too far ahead, one year at a time is as good a plan as any. He’s technically been retired as a carpenter for nearly three decades already, and despite the long hours and hot days in the field and at the stand, he’s not quite willing to let it go just yet.

“When I retired, I decided to go into my garden as my little hobby, and it just kept growing,” he said. “It’s hard work in the field, but it’s also peaceful here in the shade. I guess you could call it my man cave.”

 

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Food & Drink

Beer for Breakfast: Start the day at 4 Columbus breweries

Mike Thomas

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Is there such a thing as “too early” for a beer? We would humbly submit that no, there isn’t.

While everyone else is waiting until noon, raise a toast to the sunrise with these breakfast-themed creations from some of Columbus’ top breweries.

Note: always drink responsibly. We don’t want any angry calls from your boss saying you showed up to work completely tossed. Check yourself before you wreck yourself!

Wolf’s Ridge |215 N 4th St

The brewmaster at Wolf’s Ridge is clearly a strong believer in popping off in the AM. “Cinnamon Toast Brunch” – a cinnamon-infused twist on the brewery’s staple cream ale, is delicious at any time of the day. Need something with a little more kick to get you moving? Wolf’s Ridge cellar reserve bottle offering, “’17 All The Breakfast,” is an imperial breakfast-style ale that clocks in at 10.8% ABV.

Homestead Beer Co. | 811 Irving Wick Dr W, Heath

Columbus Beer Week is a celebration of the many, many great beers available throughout central Ohio. If you stand any chance of sampling them all, breakfast brewskis are a must. Luckily, Homestead Beer Co. has you covered with a Beer Week concoction that will take you back to the days of Saturday morning cartoons and rainbow-colored milk. Prepare yourself for Homestead’s Cocoa Pebbles porter, “Yabba Dabba Brew.”

Hoof Hearted Brewing | 850 N 4th St

Like their neighbors Wolf’s Ridge up the street, Hoof Hearted offers a sudsy take on cinnamon toast crunch. At 10.5% ABV, “Miracle Toast” will either start your day off on a strong note, or send you back to bed until noon.

Though not explicitly marketed as a breakfast beer, Hoof Hearted’s “Fitness Freak,” an imperial stout with coffee, vanilla and maple syrup added, has all of the morning-time flavors you crave. At a whopping 14%, it’s also a surefire way to transition from brunch to nap time.

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Platform | 408 N 6th St

If you don’t think a peanut butter cream puff from Schmidt’s qualifies as a breakfast item, what are you doing with your life? Cleveland-based Platform pays homage to a Columbus institution with the release of their “Schmidt’s Peanut Butter Fudge Puff” brew. This maibock style beer boasts a respectable 7.1% ABV – just enough for some AM fun without derailing your whole day.

What’s your go-to morning brew? Let us know in the comments!

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Food & Drink

CBus Brew Bus will be your new weekend obsession

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So many breweries, so little time, so few volunteers to drive your tipsy tush around, right? Wrong! Columbus, meet CBus Brew Bus: a new and refreshingly different way to experience the local craft brewery scene.

Andy Bachman, an Ohio State alum and Columbus beer enthusiasts, is on a mission to offer safe transportation, informative tours, and plenty of fresh beer to curious hop-heads. Guests can book buses to take them around to the following breweries:

  • Zaftig Brewing Co.
  • Parsons North Brewing Co.
  • Platform Beer Co.
  • Hoof Hearted Brewery & Kitchen
  • North High Brewing
  • Nocterra Brewing Co.
  • Combustion Brewery & Taproom

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Upon arrival at the meeting place, each guests will receive a 6.75 ounce sample glass. At each stop, the sample glass is filled with sweet, sweet beer—3 samples of 3 different beers at each brewery.

But, the breweries are just one part of the CBus Brew Bus experience. Along the way, Bachman and his crew provide entertainment with trivia and factoids about the Columbus craft beer culture while you booze!

Private group tours for 8 or more are offered that include the option to customize pickup and drop off locations as well as choose the breweries you’d like to visit. All public tours (just you and a few friends), have predetermined stops with the pickup point starting at City Tavern, in the heart of downtown Columbus.

To learn more about CBus Brew Bus and book a tour, visit https://cbusbrewbus.com/ or check them out on Facebook or Instagram @cbusbrewbus.

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Food & Drink

Update: Copious closure to be temporary

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Update: We reported earlier that Copious would be closing its doors permanently on May 6. However, after speaking with owner Bob Clark, we’ve learned that the closure is, in fact, temporary.

The restaurant at 520 S High St. will undergo a remodel beginning May 6 so that it may better serve its guests, though Clark is planning to be open for Mother’s Day on May 12.

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A reopen date is not yet set.

Events and parties scheduled for Notes and the events/banquet space will be unaffected by the temporary Copious closure.

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