Mike Sorboro has positioned himself as a stalwart of Columbus' Short North dining scene, feeding hungry urbanites ambling back home after a night of cocktails and craft beer.
But Sorboro snuck into Lewis Center about 18 months ago, buying BrewZaa at 6477 Pullman Drive, a strip-mall bar that seemed to conflict with his hipster image.
BrewZaa now is gone, and in its place is Joe's Corner Tavern, a 4,500-square-foot spot with 32 beers on tap, lots of TVs and traditional pub fare, including pizza from Mikey's Late Night Slice, which Sorboro founded in 2009.
"We saw potential in the people and the brand," said Sorboro, founder and CEO of LNS Restaurant Group, which includes Oddfellows Liquor Bar.
BrewZaa started as Joe's Original, and Sorboro said he changed the name to Joe's Corner Tavern in an effort to satisfy the original patrons of Joe's Original.
"It's a different crowd (than Short North patrons)," he said. "Wholly different expectations and tastes."
Mikey's Late Night Slice gained a reputation for good pizza and marketing for, shall we say, an adult audience. (A certain original pizza sauce had a pretty frisky moniker, for starters.)
Joe's Corner Tavern would have to find that same vibe to survive, Sorboro said. Surrounded by well-oiled national chains, Joe's must overcome some rough spots it has experienced in the past, he said.
"I think for an independent, you have to execute at a high level," he said. "If you don't, you'll get eaten alive."
The Joe's menu focuses on burgers, sandwiches, a few entrees and chicken wings slathered in one of eight house-made sauces. Pizza is sold by the slice or a whole 18-inch pie.
Sorboro said he wanted to keep the prices inexpensive, with most items costing around $10.
"It hits all the basics it needs to," he said.
Brunch is offered Saturdays and Sundays, with a small menu that includes such classics as chicken and waffles, French toast and bacon, as well as more singular items, like breakfast pizza.
Hours are 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
For more information, call 740-548-1182.
Central Ohio soon will get a taste of California-style sliders, as Burgerim Gourmet Burgers locations are planned in downtown Columbus and on the edge of Reynoldsburg.
The Encino-based fast-casual chain, with 25 stores across the country and hundreds more planned, is known for its build-your-own-burger program, which offers three bun options, six sauces and a dozen toppings.
Individual burgers are made from 2.8-ounce patties, with options including ground beef, lamb, salmon and falafel.
Both local restaurants would be franchise locations.
Ron Day said he plans to open his Burgerim in March at 121 S. High St. in downtown Columbus. It will have a full bar.
The L.A. native said the quality, options and price point should satisfy a large crowd.
"The draw is it's a very diverse menu," Day said. "Columbus is a very diverse town, so I was thinking this works for everybody."
Willmore Kanyongo will open his Burgerim in April or May at 6599 E. Broad St. He said he would have beer and wine but is deciding whether to add spirits.
"The atmosphere inside, I think, is just a notch above the competition," Kanyongo said.
Burgerim means "many burgers" in Hebrew, although the chain's food is not kosher.
In addition to burgers, the venue has sandwiches, fries, salads, onion rings and shakes.
Columbus restaurants Hass Tacos, Burritos & Mas, 7370 Sawmill Road, and Canelos, 1993 Hard Road, are closed. However, the latter is expected to open after remodeling.