Food News: Little Kitchen opens at Bridge Park; NYC’s The Halal Guys expanding into Ohio

Restaurant openings, closings and more Central Ohio food and drink news

Erin Edwards
A vegan lox bagel from The Little Kitchen

Openings & Announcements 

After growing a fanbase as a food truck for the past three years, The Little Kitchen opens Saturday, March 20, at North Market Bridge Park (6750 Longshore St.). The vegan eatery from owner Chloe Graffeo will serve items such as mac and peas, vegan lox bagel, assorted smoothies and smoothie bowls, as well as milkshakes, coffee and sweets. Two other vendors, BREaD Bakery + Café and Black Radish Creamery, also made their debuts at the Dublin market recently. 

The Halal Guys, a New York City icon, is expanding into Central Ohio in a big way. The franchisee group Smart Choice Food plans to open seven restaurants in Central Ohio, the first such locations in the state. Started by Egyptian immigrants in 1990, the halal food cart selling classic gyro fare has since morphed into a fast-casual chain with more than 85 locations across the globe and 400 more in development. “The economy in Columbus was on the upswing prior to COVID-19, but it was the people and sense of community that really got us interested in bringing The Halal Guys to the area,” said franchisees Mohamed Alwah, Yara Fardous and Sam Saad in a press release. “This is a diverse city full of strong, resilient and welcoming people, and we wanted to be a part of that.” 

Freedom a la Cart’s new Downtown café and bakery will officially open to the public on Monday, April 5. Located at 123 E. Spring St., this is the first public café for the local catering service and social enterprise, which provides support and workforce training to survivors of sex trafficking. The new facility will also include a commercial kitchen for the organization’s catering business as well as the Freedom Loft, a gathering space for survivors. (You can read all about the new café and its mission in the April issue of Columbus Monthly.)  

What rhymes with ice cream? Jolene, Jolene. … (We’ll see ourselves out.) That’s right, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is collaborating on a new flavor with the one-and-only Dolly Parton. Proceeds from the new collab will benefit Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a book-gifting program that gives free books to children from birth to age five. Be the first to know when the new flavor is released by signing up at jenis.com/dolly

Chef Moves 

Chef Catie Randazzo has reappeared on the dining scene after recently closing Ambrose and Eve, her South High Street restaurant. Randazzo is now the director of operations at Emmett’s Café, where she is helping the new business to stem its food costs. Randazzo also reports that she has officially landed a book deal, with plans to release a series of three children's cookbooks.