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Family Ties: Hoggy’s Restaurant & Catering

Regina Fox

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This article was written in Stock & Barrel Magazine prior to the outbreak of COVID-19. While the landscape of the dining scene in Columbus has been drastically altered, the stories of these long-standing generational establishments still remain.

Photos by Brian Kaiser

After a few years of uncertainty, we’re pleased to spread the good news: Hoggy’s is back. Both the tide and the guard have changed, and the Bethel Road location is ready to take its next step. This is the story of how the Turner family created one of the most recognizable brands in Central Ohio, almost lost it, then resurrected it in a matter of 29 years.

Mark Turner was just a Baltimore boy with a dream and a tenacious work ethic. From an early age, he set his sights on becoming an entrepreneur, saying he liked the idea of being his own boss and creating something he could be proud of. Mark quickly joined forces with a like-mind named Ken Smith. Together, the two entrepreneurial hopefuls set sail westward, ultimately dropping anchor in Columbus, Ohio.

Meanwhile, Kathy Martinet was growing up in Cleveland as her family navigated the throngs of owning a business—a business she had no interest in being a part of. Later on, she was recruited to work at Columbus-based Express for two years. Kathy planned to return to Cleveland following her commitment, but life had other plans. One mutual friend and one Lindey’s dinner later, she became Kathy Turner.

Mark and Kathy’s wedding marked the approximate beginning of Hoggy’s legacy. The first restaurant opened in 1991 at 2234 W Dublin-Granville Road in Linworth, though Kathy maintained her stance against working for family, at least at first.

“I always said I would never work for my husband or in a family business,” said Kathy. “Be careful what you say.”

She said her involvement in the beginning was small, but with onboarding her mother’s Mac n’ Cheese recipe (a beautiful orange mess of elbow noodles, penne pasta, cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, and sour cream), many consumers would argue that it was paramount. And if Kathy’s former boyfriend was good for one thing, it was his mom’s baked bean recipe. Both side dishes have been menu mainstays since Hoggy’s inception.

Through the ‘90s, business was absolutely booming for Hoggy’s. At its peak, there were seven Central Ohio locations, plus stores in Cleveland and Kentucky. The restaurants were housed in massive, easily-discernible, rustic barns; some were complete with tractors suspended from the dining room ceilings, others sported windmills, still others featured farm silos. Favorites from the menu included ribs, brisket, and pulled pork.

Mark was engrossed in business operations and Kathy held down the catering side of things, which was a very lucrative income for the company. All the while, the couple was raising three children. Kathy remembers these years fondly, saying she liked being with her husband every day and celebrating accomplishments together.

“Mark and I are both driven to work hard, and hopefully that has set an example for our children and team members,” she said.

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Hoggy’s continued its sprint through the early 2000s as a main player in both the BBQ and catering scene. But alas, the economic meltdown in 2008, increasing food costs, stiff competition, and changing industry trends proved devastating for the local chain. The last of Hoggy’s sit-down restaurants closed in February 2013.

“It was extremely humbling on many levels,” said Kathy. “We learned who were true friends, and many other people treated us like we had the flu. We made many changes in our life, which were not fun, but made us realize the importance of family and friends.”

But after all the dust settled, the Turners were still able to keep the Hoggy’s brand alive. Catering operations consolidated inside another restaurant owned by Mark and Ken called Johnny Buccelli’s, a fast-casual Italian eatery located at 830 Bethel Rd. With the help of their youngest daughter, Jillian, Kathy stayed busy with weddings and special events.

As luck would have it, the Hoggy’s catering vans parked behind Johnny Buccelli’s garnered quite the commotion from BBQ lovers, proving that the public’s hankering for the hog had not disappeard with the restaurants. Though Hoggy’s food was technically available for catering occasions only at that time, the Turners couldn’t refuse service to those who came in inquiring about the vans, hoping to score some of the bygone BBQ. Eventually, there was such an influx of Hoggy’s fans that the food found itself on Johnny Buccelli’s menu.

As Hoggy’s was slowly integrating back into the mainstream, the second generation was stepping up to the plate. Kyle—Mark and Kathy’s son and Director of Business Development and Marketing—refers to his initial involvement in Hoggy’s as an accident.

“I went to college and did econ because I didn’t want to do food,” he said. He was actually pursuing an internship in technology when he first joined the team in 2017.

But not only did his family need him; having grown up around Hoggy’s—even working there in middle and high school—Kyle was more than familiar with the company. This industry intimacy made him the perfect candidate to shake things up, which is exactly what this new iteration of Hoggy’s desperately needed. Kyle began his tenure by plugging the marketing hole. In turn, this revealed one glaring problem that he believed had to be resolved in order to keep the ship afloat: Johnny Buccelli’s.

At the time, customers walking into the restaurant could order from the Johnny B’s menu: Lasagna, subs, soups, paninis; and from a limited Hoggy’s menu: ribs, brisket, mac ‘n’ cheese. Then at one point, Kyle said there was talk of adding burgers to the menu, and he had to put his foot down—the concept was far too confusing for consumers. He gave a bit of an ultimatum.

“Either we improve this food and get rid of Johnny B’s, or I’m wasting my time here,” he said. The choice was easy when the Turners crunched the numbers and discovered Hoggy’s menu items were far outperforming Johnny B’s. But Hoggy’s return wasn’t as simple as that. Once the menu was fully converted over to BBQ, Kyle saw further room for improvement in the quality of the food.

“We took a really hard look at ourselves and we decided that we could do better,” Kyle said.

Kyle’s goal was to glean inspiration from local BBQ powerhouses like Ray Ray’s and City BBQ, plus look into how places like Texas and Brooklyn were preparing meats. Next, he secured a talented chef who was also willing to entertain direction (or “BS,” as Kyle called it) from a young person. Then there was the matter of the space, which still bore a serious resemblance to a sub shop. Kyle played point guard in the renovations of the space, while Kathy contributed her “Martha Stewart” flare in interior design.

“I am thankful that [Kyle] made a decision not to listen to me,” said Kathy. “He is an integral part of the organization.”

With the menu and the dining room in order, it was finally time to shed the final memories of Hoggy’s previous era. The Johnny B’s sign that hung outside was officially taken down at the end of February.

The new Hoggy’s is still very much a work in progress. The Turners work everyday to win back customers who felt slighted when the original restaurants closed, iron out kinks with the recent renovations, and continually improve food quality and perfect recipes. While Kyle was a catalyst in the Hoggy’s resurgence, he said none of it would be possible without his dad’s skills and refusal to quit.

“If you want to give credit as to how it’s still here, he’s the one who clawed his way back,” he said.

Admittedly, Kyle never imagined working for his mom and dad. There are even times when the family ties feel a little too tight.

“I could breath a certain way and that’s just the worst thing I’ve done all day,” he said with a laugh.

But at the end of the day, family comes first for the Turners, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I couldn’t ask for a better experience than this,” he said.

You know what they say: blood is thicker than BBQ sauce.

Hoggy’s is located at 830 Bethel Rd. Visit hoggys.com for more information.

When I'm not weaving a beautiful tapestry of words, I'm likely digging through jewels and vinyls at an antique shop near you.

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Food & Drink

National Brisket Day is Tomorrow!

Julian Foglietti

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Photo by Brian Kaiser

With meat shortages starting to take their toll and National Brisket Day around the corner here's a roundup of some spots you can go to to get your brisket fix.

Legacy Smoke House

With their main location in Hilliard and a food truck moving throughout the city, Legacy Smoke House is a solid choice for brisket on National Brisket Day, just be sure to get there while supplies last. Enjoy!

Pecan Pennys

Just off Main Street, Pecan Pennys is ready to fulfill your brisket needs. If your looking to feed a family though be sure to get your orders in advance as they're requesting 24 hours notice on dinner bundles.

Ray-Ray's Hog Pit

With locations in Franklinton, Westerville, Clintonville and Powell Ray Ray's Hog Pit is open for business with brisket stocked at all locations. #NationalBrisketDay is the best day!

Hoggy’s Restaurant and Catering

Located on Bethel Road, Hoggy’s will be stocking brisket for both dine-in or carryout. Feel free to stop in or stop by!

The Pit

With a new location opened up on Parsons Ave. The Pit BBQ will be offering brisket for the National day. Celebrate with some tasty brisket!

City Barbeque

City Barbeque will be offering brisket for the National day! So get excited and get ready for some yummy BBQ brisket!

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Community

{UPDATED} Indoor Dining: what’s NOT opening?

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Los Gauchos

PINS Mechanical Co.

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Hey Pinheads. We're so excited to hear that our world is beginning to reopen! Many of you have reached out asking about our opening plans so we wanted to provide a brief update on Pins Mechanical Co. While we fully trust and support the decisions of our local leaders, it’s our responsibility to ensure the health and safety of our team members and guests, while not sacrificing the experience that makes Pins, Pins! With that in mind, none of our locations will be opening in May. There are many unknowns with COVID-19 and we hope that taking this extra time will help our guests and teammates feel better about the measures we’ve put in place to keep all of us safe. For example, on top of our already stringent cleaning procedures, we’re installing UV technology at all locations (ensuring you always have clean balls to play with). We’re looking forward to welcoming back our kick-ass team to train and adjust to this new normal. Once our people feel comfortable + confident, we’ll know it’s time to get rollin’ again! Thank you for your incredible support, online sales, photo shares + kind words over the last two months. Even when you couldn’t show up, you showed up and we’ll never forget it! We’re hopeful that everyone will be safe and smart as we begin to reopen the doors to the small businesses that make our communities so special. See you soon, Pinheads!

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Old North Arcade

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Dear friends, . As you are most likely aware, Governor DeWine has permitted the reopening of bars and restaurants for dine-in seating effective 5/21. We are very grateful that our leadership is now offering businesses the choice to do what they think is right. We offer no judgment for the bars and restaurants that are/have chosen to open. However, for our particular business, and for our staff, we still think it's too early. We are going to remain closed this week and next but do hope to open soon. Your understanding and patience is greatly appreciated and we cannot wait to see you all. It is important to us that we apply an extra layer of safety and precaution on top of the govermental recommendations. Tentatively, we are looking at the end of May to reopen in a very limited capacity but we're following local and national developments very closesly so will be quick to bail if things turn south. Your continued support has been quite humbling. Thank you. Stay healthy, support local, and be more than kind to one another. . Cautiously optimistic, . ONA Staff

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Watershed Kitchen + Bar

101 Beer kitchen

They are delaying opening dine-in service until May 26th.

Matt the Miller's Tavern

Stay tuned on social for patio and dine-in updates!

J. Gumbo's

J. Gumbo's will continue to stay open for online ordering for pick up and delivery - stay tuned for dine-in updates.

Mouton on High

The Whitney House

The Whitney House will be opening Tuesday, June 2, 2020 at 11 am.

The Guild House

Stay tuned for opening dates!

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Stay safe everyone 💕

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Smoked On High

Dirty Frank's Hot Dog Palace

The Woodbury

The Woodbury will be opening its doors for dine-in service on June 1 2020.

Roosters

Roosters are not opening dine-in until May 26th 2020.

The Eagle

The Eagle is temporarily closed - stay tuned on social for updates!

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In light of the government mandated closure of dine-in business for an indeterminable period of time, we’ve made the incredibly hard decision to temporarily close The Eagle Columbus. . Given the truly unprecedented and quickly evolving nature of this health crisis, we’ve been forced to make the best decisions we can, with the information we have. As the true scale of this crisis has been revealed, it’s become impossible to deny the impact this mandate will have on our business and team members. This decision was made as all of our decisions have been: with the health, happiness, well being and best interests of our guests and team members in mind. . The state of Thunderdome Restaurant Group is strong and we look forward to seeing and serving you all on the other side of this. Truth, courage, and be well.

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Lavash Cafe

Tiger + Lily

Tiger + Lily is sticking to carry out for the time being. Follow them on social for updates for dine-in!

Yats Grandview

Red Lobster

Red Lobster is continuing to stick to curbside pickup, delivery, or touchless pick-up.

Harvest Pizza

Bareburger Columbus

Bareburger is opening for dine-in on May 26th, 2020.

Mezze

City Barbeque

Local Cantina - Creekside, Grandview, Dublin, Westerville, Hilliard Locations

Creekside Local Cantina is delaying opening indoor dining until May 26, 2020.

OH Pizza and Brew

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Coronavirus

Don’t be that guy/gal who forces your favorite bar/restaurant to permanently close; here are the rules

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Once the flood of COVID-related documentaries start to infiltrate our Netflix and Hulu feeds, one of the most debated topics will be which smoking gun the auteur chooses. NBA player Rudy Gobert recklessly rubbing his hands over every microphone during a press conference days before testing positive comes to mind first. The spring break bro who wouldn’t let the virus stop him from raging will make its rounds. Even the scene at Standard Hall made some people’s skin crawl.

The Ohio Investigative Unit will be doing its best to monitor situations at restaurants and bars in order to prevent any future anecdotes like the ones listed above. Local law enforcement agencies will be assisting the OIU to make sure that establishments are complying with the Dine Safe Ohio order. With the issues that were brought up following the opening of outside dining on May 15, the OIU has made specific stipulations for patrons to follow:

  • 6-foot social distancing between employees AND members of the public
  • patrons must be seated while eating and/or drinking 
  • no more than 10 people to a table
  • no billiards, video/arcade games, dancing, or card playing
  • patrons must follow specific guidelines put in place by restaurant/bar

For those who have no shame dancing by themselves in public, you’re golden. However, patrons can be written up for not following the OIU’s guidelines. 

Some people may be able to shoulder a citation, but bars and restaurants are the ones who have the most to lose here. In a press conference on May 18, Gov. Mike DeWine mentioned that OIU will issue citations that could result in the permanent loss of liquor licenses.

So once again the ball is in the consumer’s court: follow these very simple rules and avoid the risk of putting your favorite restaurants and bars out of business for good. In 2020, being spring break bro is the worst look.

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