The kitchen is hopping again at Buckeye Lake Brewery.

John and Kim Stedman have opened Chef Shack, a quick-casual kitchen, inside the brewery at 5176 Walnut Road in Buckeye Lake, about a 45-minute drive east of Columbus.

The couple had sold their last restaurant, Village Wines and Bistro, 18 months ago in Canal Winchester.

Kim Stedman said they were ready to get back into the business but didn't want another sit-down restaurant.

"This is so much more casual," she said. "I think it's kind of a trend. (Customers) want really good food, but they don't want to dress up. They want to come as they are."

At Chef Shack, customers order food at the counter and are notified via buzzer when it is ready. Servers, meanwhile, take drink orders from patrons at the table and bus tables when they leave.

Kim Stedman said the constantly rotating menu features a small number of items -- usually 12 to 15 -- all scratch-made and priced $5 to $16.

"We have a little bit of everything," she said, noting the menu includes a crab cake BLT, shrimp linguine in a cream sauce, red-chili pork tacos and fresh-cut, twice-fried fries.

The signature cheeseburger features two patties, house-made caramelized onion aioli and traditional garnishes.

Stedman said she knows the brewery owner, Rich Hennosy, through his sister, Paula Crabtree. Hennosy occasionally had used the kitchen but not on a regular basis.

"I've known Rich for most of my life," Stedman said. "I talked to him on several occasions. Once we sold our other business, I called him to say, 'You want to do it?' He said, 'OK.' "

"We're not necessarily food people," Hennosy said. "I went and learned how to open a brewery, and part of the training was ... (to) come up with minimal food."

He said he offered panini sandwiches and other light fare, paring menu items to satisfy the basics of his liquor license.

Yet, he had a professional kitchen, which he acquired in an expansion 18 months ago, basically sitting empty.

Hennosy said he had total confidence in the Stedmans to produce excellent dishes.

"You know what? We never talked about the menu," he said. "I just knew they were going to do a great job."

Restaurant hours, which roughly coincide with brewery hours, are 4 to 8 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, 4 to 9 p.m. Thursdays, 4 to 9 Fridays, noon to 9 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 8 p.m. Sundays. For more information, call Chef Shack at 740-527-2947.

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Grow Restaurants and the Butcher & Grocer are joining forces on Harvest Pizzeria & Tavern, which will replace the Old Bag of Nails Pub at 1099 W. First Ave. in Grandview Heights.

The restaurant will feature Harvest's core pizza menu, with additional items that highlight the relationship between the partners, said Chris Crader, founder and CEO of Grow Restaurants.

The Butcher & Grocer, which offers regular and specialty meats and limited grocery items, is just a few storefronts down on First Avenue.

The pizzeria is expected to open in a few months, Crader said.

The Old Bag of Nails Pub closed Feb. 24, said Mike Purdum, who owns the chain of casual restaurants.

John "Guido" Magnacca has some recipes to share.

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The chef of Cimi's Bistro at Pinnacle Golf Club in Grove City has just released his first cookbook, "Not Your Dinner for Two: Feeding the Whole Damn Family Italian-Style."

Magnacca said the cookbook is for those cooking for large groups on such occasions as holidays, graduations and parties.

"So much of my life has been about volume cooking, and that's what this cookbook is for," he said.

The book is available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com.

The U.S. restaurant count decreased 2 percent from a year ago, according to the NPD Group, a global-information company based in Chicago.

The total reached 647,288 in fall 2017, the report said.

The primary source of the decline in restaurant units was a 3 percent drop in independent stores.

The number of chain restaurants has remained stable, according to NPD.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary