Hidden Gem(s)

Jack McLaughlin

Hilliard’s new Center Street Market shines with versatility, wild pairings + collaboration

What foods pair best with beer? Pretzels with a Pilsner; spicy tacos for an IPA; smoked ribs with a nice brown ale; oh, and cheesecake.

Yeah, you read it right—cheesecake and beer. And a lot more where that comes from at Hilliard’s new Center Street Market, 5354 Center St., where this and other fun, delicious, and sometimes borderline wild pairings, are up for grabs.

“It’s working great, I love the flow of business and community around. A lot of people come in to work from the market during the week—it’s a nice change of scenery from the home office I’m sure,” said Samantha Strange of The Cheesecake Girl, the first vendor outside of the Market’s owner, Crooked Can Brewery, which opened its stand in mid-April.


The Cheesecake Girl, which offers a wide array of full-sized, miniature, and even booze-infused desserts, regularly collaborates with their brewer neighbors.

“Now that we have Crooked Can right next to us it’s easy to collaborate on tasty pairings and flavors together. We have a four-pack of mini cheesecakes that pair with a flight of their beer. It will change flavors seasonally and always be on the menu,” Strange said.

Center Street Market is anchored by Crooked Can Brewing Company, who own the space. This tastefully refurbished Napa Auto Parts store sits on a large lot of land abutting the southern end of Hilliard’s Heritage Trail. Just northwest of downtown Hilliard, it also feels pleasantly tucked away in its very own corner of the city: there aren’t many other businesses around, just open fields and fresh air.

But there’s always plenty of business going on inside Center Street Market, which opened in February of this year. With 10—soon to be 11—diverse vendors nestled into 16,000 square feet of space, there really is something for everyone.

What’s more, the spacious, high-ceilinged, open-air configuration of the storefronts (there aren’t walls or partitions separating vendor booths), truly gives the space a collaborative atmosphere. You can be nursing a crooked can IPA while ordering a smoked-meat taco and artisan popcorn at the same time—so why wouldn’t you?

And it doesn’t just feel like a collaborative space, it is one. There’s a definitive camaraderie between the sellers, and it shows in what they do—a togetherness Crooked Can hopes to continue to inspire.

“Everyone is kind of working together, which is really awesome,” said Megan Fry, who owns the brewery and the market alongside her husband Robert. “But we want to keep going, we want to do popcorn and beer, and everything else.”

According to Strange, Cheesecake Girl and another market storefront, Pitabilities, are working together to create a cinnamon pitas with a cheesecake deep on the side. The market’s vendors have discussed a collective fiery foods weekend event as well.

And if you’re hungry for a full meal, Center Street Market has bountiful options for you in that department as well. In addition to Two Step Tacos, Pitabilities, and Dumpling of Fury, Meatball Mafia is one option to fill up on.

Opening at the market this June, owner Robert DelliQuadri offers a wide array of Italian-inspired food, all while crafting his own meatballs inspired by his grandmother’s recipe.

“We do what I like to call an Youngstown-style meatball, the sauce is more tart, the meatballs are just a little bit different than others,” DelliQuadri said.

A dish that features these not just prominently, but unapologetically, is their lineup of meatball bowls, which embrace them as the actual entree. The Satriale Bowl combines three meatballs with DiRusso mild Italian sausage, pepperoni, banana peppers, and a host of different cheeses served with red sauce.

And while DelliQuadri is highlighting his Italian roots, he’s also not afraid to stray from them if the results are delicious. “I think a lot of people know that Italian-American food isn’t really Italian. And I embrace that; I try to bastardize my food a second time,” he said.

This is clear in their Bada Boom sub, which features DiRusso mild Italian sausage, crushed meatballs, provolone and mozzarella cheeses, covered in red sauce and served on Italian Torpedo roll.

And if you’re getting thirsty thinking about all this great food, look no further than Crooked Can Brewing, whose 4,000 square foot taproom, (in addition to their on-site brewery, occupies the lion’s share of the market space

And it does so for good reason; their beer is fantastic. The first sip of High Stepper, their flagship IPA, is crisp, balanced, and bursting with green, tropical hop goodness—it’s a pint you absolutely shouldn’t pass up.

You could get lost in their eclectic array of other beers such as their malt-forward amber ale McSwaggers Own and silky-smooth imperial stout, Nightmare on High St., but don’t forget about their wine, cider, hard seltzer, and cocktails as well.

In addition to an abutting 7,000 square ft. dog friendly patio, there are also three different bars staged through the market.

But the thing that makes the beer so good is the abundance of food offerings throughout the market, said Fry.

“We wanted something more than just a brewery, something to attract people so we could focus on just the art of beer,” she said. “So having the market lets us focus on our thing; it’s perfect.”

And the space really does hold onto a little piece of perfection. Not just because the food and the beer is great or the atmosphere is exciting and original, but ultimately because of what the Market means to so many new businesses. After speaking with the many hungry, excited owners, the space feels a bit like an incubator—a haven for budding companies. 

It offers small businesses, which may not have been able to afford their own storefront, a chance to exist in a promising space that’s brimming with positive energy, as well as a chance to feed off of and support one another through the challenges of a wild year.

“We’re all learning from each about how things are going, being small business owners, about what works and what doesn’t. We’re also working together and talking about different events,” said DelliQuadri. “And that’s what 2020 has to be. We want to work together to get people to enjoy this, and we see people every day who are so excited.”

The complete list of market vendors:

Learn more about Center Street Market and Crooked Can Brewing Company at www.crookedcanohio.com


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