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Sweet Surrender

It’s not a golden ticket, but it gets me in nonetheless. The little blue card given to me by the gift shop attendant holds the admission to this chocoholic’s wildest dream: a tour of a candy factory. The 152,000 square-foot Anthony-Thomas Candy Factory sits in an industrial park on the west side of Columbus. Its [...]
Laura Dachenbach

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It’s not a golden ticket, but it gets me in nonetheless. The little blue card given to me by the gift shop attendant holds the admission to this chocoholic’s wildest dream: a tour of a candy factory.

The 152,000 square-foot Anthony-Thomas Candy Factory sits in an industrial park on the west side of Columbus. Its brick front recalls an earlier and more humble beginning which my guide narrates to me.

In 1907, Anthony Zanetos immigrated to Columbus from Greece and became an apprentice candy maker for about 9 years before finally deciding to go into business for himself. Zanetos started the Co-op Dairy in Franklinton, where he continued to hone his candy-making craft.

Then in 1947, Zanetos and his son Thomas opened the Crystal Fountain Restaurant on West Broad Street, a luncheonette-style eatery serving up soup, sandwiches, soda fountain drinks, and ice cream. The Crystal Fountain proved to be a tremendous vehicle for candy, which soon outpaced regular food sales.

Despite the rationing of sugar at the time, Zanetos was still able to meet his candy-making demand. Both Thomas’ status as a World War II veteran and his occupation as a confectioner made him eligible to receive 30,000 pounds of sugar a year. The father-son partnership was cemented as the two merged their first names and formed the Anthony-Thomas Candy Company in 1952.

The company went through several expansions to keep up with demand until 1995 when it moved into the building in which I’m standing, home to one of the largest candy companies in the Midwest. The next generation of candy makers, Thomas’ children, continue the family business as the current company owners and operators. Sons Joe, Timothy, and Greg can often be found on the factory floor, staying hands-on with candy production. Joe’s daughter Candi Trifelos handles the retail division, while her sister Carla Scully works at one of the stores.

Scully’s husband Steve works in the factory as a floor supervisor.

I’m led upstairs to a glassed-in catwalk overlooking a general candy production area, where I spy a very industrial-age-looking machine, all moving parts, wrapping candy bars specially made for Anthony-Thomas’ fundraising division. The company supports the American Cancer Society, schools, PTAs, and other non-profits by allowing groups to sell the candy for $1 a bar and split the profits.

I also see some familiar Snickers labels running through a machine. Anthony-Thomas holds a contract with Mars, and processes and packages some of its candies. Trucking to and from the factory, as you might imagine, is discreet.

True Anthony-Thomas confections that will be sold in one of the thirteen Central Ohio retail stores, however, are a more involved process. My guide points at a woman in a striped top holding a brush, spreading chocolate in a clear handmade mold, the type of mold that will create a chocolate Christmas tree. Carefully, she shakes the mold to even out the chocolate and get rid of air bubbles.

“I could watch her all day,” sighs the guide. “That’s the great thing about Anthony-Thomas. People still care about candy and the process.”
Employees are making peanut brittle today, which will be hand cut into squares. Tree bark candy also is also cut by hand, but on a distinctive diagonal. Packaging is also done by hand. Anthony-Thomas has employs 200 regular full-time workers as well as additional seasonal workers.

Even from the catwalk, there’s a noticeable difference between the areas of the factory devoted for candy production, and those reserved for packaging, not just the faint aroma of melted chocolate, but the cooler temperature. A wonderful property of chocolate its low melting point.

Good chocolate melts at body temperature, literally in your mouth. Great care is taken at the factory to make sure that its beautiful finished products stay that way.

Zipping across the factory ceilings are a number of pipes wrapped in a silver foil coating (another temperature control). Each of them carries liquid chocolate to different areas of the factory, which then pumps a heavenly cascade of chocolate joy from a nozzle into large vats stirred with beaters. Giant copper kettles, chosen for heat conduction, line some of the walls.

Anthony-Thomas does not process the cacao beans that make its chocolate, but rather sends specifications to processing plants, who then ship the customized liquid chocolate to the factory by truck, where it is emptied into reservoir tanks. The thought that I have been driving the Columbus freeways along with tanker trucks filled with 40,000 gallons of warm liquid chocolate is enough to make my heart stop.

“I know, isn’t that wonderful?” The guide laughs a bit at the expression on my wide-eyed face. “They pump that chocolate into the holding tanks on the side of the factory, and it smells fabulous outside when they’re doing that. It really does.”

In another area of the factory, I get to see a chocolate-coating machine being used to make English toffee. Pieces of candy ride conveyor-belt style into a curtain of chocolate, then continue down the belt to be cooled, while the runoff chocolate is caught and recycled from underneath. 30,000 pounds of chocolates are produced per shift at the factory on the nine lines.

My tour ends where it began—in the 2,500 square-foot retail and gift shop where I receive one of Anthony-Thomas’ signature buckeyes: a molded chocolate shell with a with a white chocolate top (tinted the color of peanut butter) encasing a creamy peanut butter filling. I take a bite and wave to about twenty excited children who are waiting to begin their sweet adventure.

Anthony Zanetos’ great-great-grandchildren, now high school and college-age, often use their break time to give tours and work in the retail shops, providing the Anthony-Thomas Candy Company with their fifth generation of Columbus chocolate enthusiasts. No doubt it will provide me with my own chocolate fix for years to come as well.

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Food & Drink

Italian Lebanese hybrid restaurant coming to German Village

Regina Fox

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What do you get when you cross Italian food with Lebanese fare? Bistrolino.

The new hybrid restaurant will take over the spot formerly occupied by Harvest Pizzeria at 495 S 4th St. in German Village. A December open date is expected.

Columbus Business First reports Bistrolino is owned by Samer Chedid and Francesco Todisco, who worked together at Aladdin's Eatery. As immigrants, Chedid will bring is Lebanon roots to the concept, while Todisco will contribute his Italian influence.

Todisco told Columbus Business First the menu will be small, offering single-serving baking dishes including zucchini parmesan, braciola, and a Lebanese flatbread called man'oushe.

Keep an eye on Bistrolino's Facebook for updates.

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Food & Drink

Taft’s on Draft: Cinci Brewporium opens first Columbus location in Franklinton

Linda Lee Baird

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After hearing all the hype about Cincinnati’s up-and-coming Over the Rhine neighborhood a few years back, I went to see it for myself. The first stop was Taft’s Ale House, a gigantic brewery inside of a church originally built in 1850, fully renovated for guests’ reveling pleasure. After spending the next few hours sampling beverages and snacking on beer cheese pretzels, I was inclined to believe the neighborhood hype. Did I fully explore OTR that night? I don’t actually remember. But I’m certain that I had a great time at Taft’s. So when I found out that Taft’s was coming to Columbus, the news sounded even sweeter than their Maverick Chocolate Porter.

Taft’s Brewpourium Columbus spans nearly 6,000 square feet in the Gravity development, including over 2,000 square feet of patio space. Like the development itself, Taft’s is building an artistic theme into its new offering. “Our actual design is going to be kind of focused on ‘80s/‘90s pop art,” said David Kassling, Managing Partner for Taft’s Brewing Company. “Being that Franklinton definitely has its art roots, we think that’s a great way to ingrain ourself in the community.”

Kassling said that the word brewpourium literally means the place where the brew is poured. That they’ve chosen to make “brewpourium” part of their name tells you everything you need to know about what Taft’s wants to be known for: its carefully crafted suds. The brewpourium will have at least 10 taps serving Taft’s original varieties, including its signature Gavel Banger IPA, which was voted best beer in Cincinnati last March by the city’s residents.

Taft’s will offer a full food menu as well. Kassling is particularly proud to introduce New Haven-style pizza to Columbus. “We’re recreating a style that doesn’t exist anywhere else in Ohio,” he said. (The style is also known as apizza, which is pronounced "a piece," as in, I’d like a piece of that crisp coal-red cheesy goodness right now, please.) Kassling describes it as a cross between New York and Neapolitan style. Taft’s version features our and tomatoes imported from Italy.

Rounding out the menu is another ‘90s-inspired treat, this time in dessert form. Remember Dunkaroos, those cookies that came in a package with icing designed for dipping, perhaps consumed while you watched episodes of Saved By the Bell? Taft’s will serve up Taftaroos, its unique take on the snack.

Kassling plans to use the brewpourium’s large space to offer patrons activities beyond food and drink. The stage will be open for games of darts when not in use for performances. On the floor, guests will find shufflepuck and Killer Queen, an arcade game utilizing 8-bit graphics in line with the old-school theme. Video game fans will also find gaming stations inlaid in the bar, with several retro options to choose from.

With three Cincinnati locations in operation, Kassling is not new to the business. Even so, expanding to Columbus marks a milestone, and one he wasn’t always seeking to meet. “We didn’t necessarily look at this as we needed to expand to a new city or we needed to expand to Columbus,” he said.

But when the opportunity to join the Gravity Project presented itself, Kassling said it proved too good to pass up. “We’re really excited, not only because of the nature of the building being so modern and unique, not just to Columbus, but to anywhere. But also the shape of our space is funky, and that led to different ideas in what we wanted to do with our build out.”

Kassling acknowledged that in coming to Columbus, Taft’s is joining a few of our communities: the community of Franklinton, to be sure, but also the well-established community of independent breweries operating across the city. An installation built into Taft’s countertop will pay homage to this fact, incorporating crushed cans and packaging from breweries like Seventh Son, Land-Grant, and North High. “It’s gonna be totally an art piece,” he said.

Rather than focusing on the potentially competitive aspect of the brewing scene, Kassling emphasized the camaraderie and common goals within the industry. “At the end of the day, craft beer is a great way to bring people together,” he said. “And at the end of the day, we’re all preaching community and good times.”

While Taft’s new location may not be in a church, Kassling’s words are the type of preaching that I can get behind.

Taft’s Brewpourium Columbus is located at 440 W Broad St. in the Gravity project. For more details about Taft’s, visit taftsalehouse.com.

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Food & Drink

New “relaxed” wine house now open in Dublin

614now Staff

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Next time you're in Dublin, make sure to stop and smell the rosé at the city's newest wine bar. Coast Wine House recently opened at 75 S High St., offering a contemporary wine bar + bottle shop inspired by a blend of the spirit of coastal California and traditional wine country cafés, markets, and bodegas, according to the website.

Coast assures they don't take themselves too seriously "in contrast to the conventional wine world," describes the website.

"The mood is decidedly relaxed. The wine is pleasantly chilled," Coast says.

The wine bar is run by Dustin Snow, who his wife, Molly, believes brings a "warm and relaxed" feel to Coast.

"A visit to our house is by no means fancy, but Dustin makes it special, because he genuinely wants to make you feel at home," she wrote on Instagram. "And since Coast is an extension of our home you will have this same warm and relaxed experience."

https://www.instagram.com/p/B2r1Q5OgbAT/

Coast is open Wednesday and Thursday from 12pm- 9pm, Friday and Saturday from 12pm- 10pm, and closed Sunday through Tuesday. To learn more visit coastwinehouse.com.

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