Upon entering The Kee, Columbus’ newest, most contemporary community center and restaurant, one can’t help but be drawn to the room with pink palm trees, a mauve ceiling, green marble bar, plush, blue velvet sofas, and seductive mood lighting. Co-owner Noah Morgenstern dubs this the “Miami Meets Tel Aviv” room; this dining area is the most formal part of the warehouse, intentionally decorated to make you feel excited to get dressed up and indulge in a night out on the town.
Their lounge menu is heavily influenced by Israeli & Yemeni flavor profiles, which Noah explains is an ode to the cultural backgrounds of his family and co-owner Ophira Harazi’s Yemen roots. The bursts of Syrian, Moroccan, Iraqi, and other Arabic spices, “honors the immigrant experience,” he says. These elevated takes on Middle Eastern classics tell a story.
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Start, for instance, with their nachos, topped with yemenite curry, hot honey, ground chicken (if you’re vegetarian, just ask for it without), a Middle Eastern yogurt called “labneh,” crumbled feta, zhug, which is a Yemenite hot sauce, harissa, and crispy onions, all delicately piled onto puffed pita chips. With every bite, you’re able to connect with Noah’s vision of having a diverse, yet harmonious menu where every item has an element of Middle Eastern flair.
Moving onto the Schnitzel Parm Sandwich, a heartfelt tribute to the most popular street food in Tel Aviv. Amidst the fervent chatter, everyone in the room was raving about the buttery challah bread, the earthy, crunchy eggplant chips, and zingy Moroccan red sauce.
The immigrant inspired journey finishes with Charred Eggplant – their vegan entrée featuring curried cauliflower, a zesty labneh tahini sauce, and a delicate topping of candied currents. It’s almost as if when you turned down McKee Alley, you teleported to a restaurant in Southern Turkey.
Steps away from their formal lounge is an upscale, pastel foodbar, serving handhelds like shawarma walking tacos and fried eggplant pitas. This is more of a grab & go vibe, but the food is still intentionally spiced to mirror an elevated food stand you might stumble upon in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Beyond the arcade lies a minimalist, stark white café boasting a beautifully lit cocktail and espresso bar. From 7am-2pm, this airy gathering space hums as a coffee shop, serving Second Wave Coffee and pastries from local bakeries, Three Bites and Freedom A La Cart. Various toasts, like fig & apple, Nutella, or avocado, are available if you need a more savory treat. When the clock strikes 4:30, the space transforms into a cocktail lounge, where guests sip cocktails on chic barstools, perhaps joining in on trivia or a poetry reading.
Every component, every flavor, and every room is vastly different, yet flows seamlessly together, forming a strong connection and balancing each other out, which is a testament to their mission and the message they want to convey to the community: diversity is Kee.
Want to read more? Check out our print publication, (614) Magazine. Learn where you can find a free copy of our new May issue here!
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