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Has Columbus reached peak BBQ? That might seem the case, but then again, when you build it—be it taco stands or beer halls or juice bars—they will come. And on this, the opening day at Downtown’s newest barbecue joint, Pecan Penny’s, the buzz and lunch rush had wiped them out of “’cue” completely. I couldn’t [...]
Kevin J. Elliott



Has Columbus reached peak BBQ?

That might seem the case, but then again, when you build it—be it taco stands or beer halls or juice bars—they will come.

And on this, the opening day at Downtown’s newest barbecue joint, Pecan Penny’s, the buzz and lunch rush had wiped them out of “’cue” completely. I couldn’t get a fix until at least 5. Then I overheard the evening shift meeting…

“Folks, that’s what happens in the world of smoking barbecue. You’re going to run out.”

Exhausted yet beaming, pitmaster Greg Schmidt was all too happy to take a break after selling out of his maiden smoke.

“I’ve probably walked about four miles within a five-foot radius today,” says Schmidt. “But I’m in my own world back there. It’s like a dream come true.”

Living in a part of the country not particularly known for barbecue, it’s not so much about traditions and recipes passed down for generations, as much as it’s about technique and consistency. In that absence of history, Schmidt is highly skilled when it comes to the pedagogy of smoking meat. He pursued the hobby since his teens, later in life throwing backyard barbecues, smoking whole hogs, and eventually catering for friends on the side. His talent caught the attention of Kevin Burns and Brad Hobbs, the duo responsible for The Walrus and Olde Towne Tavern, who lured him away from his career in graphic design to man their latest concept full-time.

“Greg built what he’s done organically and passionately as a home-smoker,” says Hobbs. “It was a no-brainer to hire him with the wealth of knowledge that he brings.”

As with smoking meat, the concept of Pecan Penny’s is extremely minimal. The menu is split into smoke, sides, snacks, and sweets (pecan pie of course), and the interior, which now occupies the former home of Ray Johnson’s Seafood Market, is revamped with garage doors, cafeteria seating, and an industrial turquoise and pewter motif. Those basic ideals really free up the decision making and allow Schmidt’s handiwork to take center stage.

“BBQ is so prevalent right now, that everyone has their own idea of what designates BBQ from a certain region,” says Schmidt. “You could call what we do Central Texas BBQ, because it’s dry-rubbed and kissed with smoke, but you’ve got the option of six different sauces. I just want the meat to taste like meat, first and foremost. Today I dubbed it CBUS-B-Q.”

That menagerie of sauces, gives Schmidt’s “CBUS-B-Q” a distinctive, choose-your-own-flavor-adventure when you choose to divulge. All house-made, they take the most pride in their family recipe-derived “G-Daddy” and “Hot G-Daddy” sauces, with shades of Kansas City in the mix, they are the thickest and smokiest of the bunch. There are also two styles of the lighter, vinegar-based tang from the Carolinas, a sweet and minimal Memphis glaze, and the almost-ranch of the Alabama white, which is primarily for chicken. Try a dinner of smoked wings and hushpuppies if you’re hankering to try them all.

“We wanted this to be barbecue that takes from all of our loves,” says Burns. “We traveled all over and did a lot of research and took something from each place to put this all together.”

Besides the requisite draft selection and craft cocktails that Burns and Hobbs’ establishments are known for, or the mac and cheese and the soon-to-be-coveted collard greens that are standard issue menu items these days, Penny’s successfully surprises with a number of treats. The aforementioned pecan pie is a standout, then again, as a namesake it has to be. The hushpuppies, one of the few vegetarian options (but you know what you’re getting, right?), are a perfect balance of crisp and cakelike, and could serve as a meal with the accompanying smoky horseradish. Or, for a couple quarters, you could be adventurous and try a Kool-Aid pickle. A delicacy of far Southern gas stations, the bright and tangy spears are new to Columbus. Not for everyone, but reason alone to venture to Penny’s.

So to answer the initial question….peak barbecue? Downtown is starting to get crowded, and it certainly could use a patio teeming with smoked meats. Especially with Schmidt’s vision guiding the ship.

“There’s a place down here for everything,” ends Burns, before returning to the busy grind of the very first dinner shift. “This place has sat empty for a while now and for some reason it just screamed barbecue. Here we are.” 

Fresh Taste: Pecan Penny’s

113 E Main St.

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Food & Drink

Five places to snag a donut today




Forgetting about Memorial Day isn’t as much a sign of how irrelevant the calendar has become as compared to this following anecdote from a cherished local business. 

When talking to the owner of Buckeye Donuts about its National Donut Day plans, it didn’t dawn on him until a few days ago that he needed to start preparing for the holiday. Now, Buckeye Donuts is more than prepared, assuming a 10 p.m. curfew, which will keep the 24/7 campus spot from operating out of its original pocket.

The following list consists of five places where you can get your donut fix on Friday.

Buckeye Donuts

A local and campus establishment for 51 years, Buckeye Donuts will again be pulling out all the stops; that is, as much as they can. Being a 24-7 establishment, Buckeye Donuts has layers of bakers on deck prepared to do big bakes every eight or so hours with all sorts of varieties and specialities to indulge in.

Duck Donuts

Duck Donuts wants to promote kindness throughout the community this Friday. Whatever way you order, you’ll be treated to a free cinnamon sugar donut, at participating locations.

Amy’s Donuts

No purchase necessary, Amy’s Donuts is offering a free bag of cake donut holes, while supplies last.

Dunkin’ Doughnuts

Stop by any participating Dunkin’ and you’ll be given a free donut with any beverage purchase.

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts

All week Krispy Kreme has been spreading donut kindness. If you place an order with them today, you'll receive a free donut. The promo started on June 1.

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Food & Drink

National Cognac Day: with a Royal Twist





Happy National Cognac Day! We partnered up with Rémy Cointreau and local bartender, Ben Griest, from Giuseppe’s Ritrovo to present to you... the Royal Sazerac! Ben has shown us a thing or two about making speciality cocktails - today he's making the Royal Sazerac, fit for a King and/or Queen.

The Royal Sazerac is well-known in the cocktail world as America's first cocktail. Also known as New Orleans' official cocktail, Remy Cointreau stands out offering its aromatic richness - making the Royal Sazerac an outstanding premium cocktail.

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Food & Drink

Condado Tacos open in select locations after closing its doors Tuesday




Condado Tacos is open once again after closing its doors to the public Tuesday following an employee walkout Monday night. Polaris and Clintonville locations remain closed until further notice.

Employees at the Polaris location walked out Monday after refusing to fulfill a catering order by the Ohio Highway Patrol, according to a press release from Condado Tacos Wednesday. The employees who walked out were given the opportunity to not work on the order, without repercussion, if they didn’t feel comfortable, according to a statement provided by Linda Powers, Condado Tacos director of marketing.

The order by the Highway Patrol was placed at the Condado Tacos Polaris location on the fifth-straight day of George Floyd protests in Columbus. Floyd’s death was ruled a homicide following an incident where a Minneapolis police officer placed deadly force on Floyd’s neck with his knee. The incident has sparked protests across the country, including Columbus.

After reaching out to Condado’s PR agency over email, the contact stated that their team has “parted ways” with the business. 

Wednesday’s statement by Condado says they “value different points of view,” but, “choosing not to serve a particular group, in this case law enforcement officers, in itself is discrimination and goes against our core values to welcome and serve everyone.”

Read the full statement here.

Read Tuesday evening’s two-part post on Condado’s Facebook page below:

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