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Food & Drink

Yellowbird Foodshed offers a fresh and local alternative to grocery shopping

Mitch Hooper

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“Who grew your food?” That’s the number one question Benji Ballmer asks all eaters. As the co-owner of Yellowbird Foodshed who works with more than 100 different Ohio food growers and producers, Ballmer knows exactly who grew his food—and he is making sure you can, too

At its core, Yellowbird Foodshed serves as a distributor where it connects growers with consumers. The options here range from CBD gummies from Ziola to cheese and dairy products from Black Radish Creamery. The idea, Benji said, started when he and Sarah, his wife, had their first child and started a garden in the backyard. The concept snowballed quickly; they added a half dozen chickens, started planning their diets around what they had fresh and available, and even started networking with local producers to obtain fresh meat, dairy, and other produce.

Photos by Rebecca Tien

“We wanted raw milk, so we found a couple of farms that were doing that,” Benji said. “We wanted non-GMO grains to make our bread, so we found that.  We wanted our meat to be raised on grass so we found a few people that were doing poultry, pork, and beef on grass. Doing all this opened our eyes to the food system in general, but also to the various health concerns that come with eating a ‘standard american diet.’ ”  

Ballmer said that both sides of the equation were broken. 

“On one side are the farms that are actually growing food in a regenerative way, but don’t have enough demand to be able to actually grow enough food to make a living,” he explained. “The other side is the consumer that has been tricked into thinking that food should be cheap, fast, convenient, and homogeneous.”

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And this is where he hopes Yellowbird can alleviate these problems. By establishing connections and orders with local growers, Yellowbird is creating a demand. And through its subscription service, pick-up options, and even at-home delivery, it’s creating a supply for consumers.

These offerings become even more helpful and crucial during COVID-19 and shelter-in-place. It’s decentralizing where folks are getting their food which coincides with social distancing orders—there’s no long lines at the check-out counter here. Whether it be an at-home delivery or time slots to pick-up your orders, much of it can be nearly contactless. Since the outbreak, Ballmer said his delivery rates are increasing and order sizes have grown from serving just one person to serving as many as three.

This is something he predicted that would happen eight years ago, but as he said, old habits die hard. Now, it seems the tides are shifting. More people are interested in where their food is coming from, especially during a pandemic. 

“Now, for all the different reasons that we are seeing, food has become a little scarce, people are concerned about where it is coming from, and also concerned about their own safety and immunity as it relates to what they are putting in their bodies that may be coming in contact with a virus,” he said.

Currently, Yellowbird is cycling through winter vegetables like squash, sweet potatoes, cabbage, and carrots. The future holds a bountiful harvest as items like strawberries, asparagus, green onions, and spring greens will soon be available. The Foodshed also ventured out of Ohio for the first time and made a connection in Florida with a third-generation organic citrus farm to provide oranges, orange juice, and grapefruits. It’s safe to say we could all use a little extra Vitamin C right now.

And while Yellowbird can provide a wide variety of options for your kitchen, it also has created a community. The “A Seat at the Table” Facebook group has 560 members sharing recipes using their recent pick-ups, giving tips to other members, and having discussions about various topics like sustainability, zero-waste living, and of course, how to raise your kids. There’s also the “Friday Five” email blast Ballmer sends out. It’s a collection of his thoughts on whatever he consumed that week; pop culture, a new book, a joke, or even a quote.

“I have always been a huge reader and that naturally has progressed to podcasts, and other media on the phone. I wanted to connect with people outside of always trying to sell them something,” he said.

Yellowbird is helping its community in many ways, and its arms are open to members. From its connections with growers to the folks who rely on these products for their own homes, it looks like Ballmer is doing exactly what he set out to do. And little messages like this email from a member is all the proof he needs.

“My two year old son waits all day for the ”vegetable man” and today was the first time we saw him do the drop off,” the email read. “My son was parked right at the front door on a stool watching him load our cooler, screaming “THE VEGETABLE MAN IS HERE!” and the guy (bless him!) was incredibly joyful and kind—waving to him the entire time. It is the little things that count and you all do so many “little” things that make food as special as it should be.”

To learn more about Yellowbird Foodshed, visit yellowbirdfs.com or find it on Instagram at @yellowbirdfoodshed.

millennial | writer | human

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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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