ClusterTruck isn’t a dine-in restaurant and it isn’t a food truck: It is a food-truck-inspired purveyor of affordable restaurant-quality cuisine, available via delivery only.
The Indianapolis-based company opened its first Ohio location last week at 342 E. Long St. in Columbus.
It marks an even more progressive leap into tech-savvy dining: Orders are placed online with a goal of a 22-minute delivery time, from the start of cooking until the meal reaches its destination.
Customers can track the process online, from kitchen to curbside, where orders are delivered. (Drivers do not leave their cars.)
There is no minimum order and delivery is free.
Furthermore, the business employs its own fleet of drivers, who keep all their tips. No third-party food-delivery service is used.
ClusterTruck was founded in 2016 in Indianapolis by Chris Baggott and Dan McFadden. Another location is in Bloomington, Indiana.
ClusterTruck takes over a former office space on the eastern edge of downtown near Columbus State Community College.
Spokeswoman Gwen Ragno said the company hopes to open another ClusterTruck near the Ohio State University campus, although there is no timeline.
ClusterTruck has a delivery area that includes downtown, German Village, the east side of Columbus, the Arena District and the Short North.
“Our goal is to be able to reach as many people as possible in a densely populated area,” Ragno said.
Corporate executive chef Tim McIntosh said he has created a menu with more than 100 items, from pan-Asian dishes to burgers.
“It’s kind of street food that meets a twist of gourmet,” McIntosh said.
Customer favorites at include chipotle shrimp tacos, buffalo-chicken macaroni and cheese and the “lazy” breakfast burrito. The Columbus menu also includes a Johnny Marzetti-style mac and cheese.
McIntosh said he makes what he can from scratch, such as the smoked pulled pork, plum sauce and charred tomato salsa.
“It’s the real deal here,” he said.
Most individual dishes are priced at $7 to $10.
Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. To order, visit clustertruck.com.
Citadel Cafe has opened in Hilliard and features a number of Middle Eastern desserts, savory fare and coffee.
Among the attractions are 33 styles of Turkish delight, a gel candy sold by the piece and pound. Also on the menu is a true Turkish coffee made with imported beans.
Citadel, 4734 Cemetery Road, also has many specialty drinks, made from beans supplied by Caruso’s Coffee, a roaster in Brecksville.
Eyad Hamza and Yaser Alwadeya, the cafe’s owners, work with local producers to supply doughnuts, baklava, cookies and ice cream.
Some food, such as fatayer – savory hand-held pies containing spinach, cheese or meat – along with falafel and hummus, is made on premises.
Westies Gastropub will replace the Wine Bistro in Clintonville.
The second Westies is slated to open the first quarter of 2018 at 4416 N. High St.
The original Westies is at 940 S. Front St.
Westies is part of a small local chain, which includes Branch and Berliner Pub, founded by Tony Selimi.
Paul Yow, culinary director for the company, said the Westies menu in Clintonville will mirror the one in Columbus’ Brewery District.
“There might be one or two differences but almost all the same,” Yow said.
Westies is known for its upscale tavern menu, which includes barbecue ribs, buttermilk fried chicken, pizzas and Korean barbecue burger made with Ohio grass-fed beef.
Yow said the interior will go through a significant remodeling.
A company called & Juice Co. is opening in Clintonville at the beginning of November at 4493 N. High St. in a small retail center that also includes Chipotle and Panera Bread.
The company’s other location at 4939 Dierker Road is known for cold-pressed vegetable and fruit juices ($9 for 16 ounces), smoothies ($5 for 12 ounces) and raw vegan snacks made in-house.