Mona Donahoe was at an unfortunate junction in her professional life, and she didn't like either option presented by her employer: move to London or to Hong Kong.
Donahue rejected both and opted for something less secure than a job as senior vice president for a major bank.
On April 2, Donahoe opened Mona's Cafe at 152 E. State St. in downtown Columbus.
"I'm excited about customer interaction," she said. "This is my dream. I'm living my dream."
The casual breakfast-and-lunch operation, which replaces the Corner Deli, is a lot different from its predecessors.
Donahoe had a professional kitchen installed, where she and her brother, Steven Knight, the chef, are making scratch, home-style fare. (Her son, Christopher, and niece, Cassie Sherman, also work at the 44-seat cafe.)
She recommends the cinnamon rolls and sticky buns, as well as the red feather cake, a version of red velvet cake that uses French buttercream frosting.
The menu is full of savory dishes, as well: a daily soup (look for gumbo and Tex-Mex chili, Donahoe said), sandwiches, plated meals and salads, which include the Southwestern chicken salad, served with cooked peppers and onions and a creamy yogurt-salsa dressing.
Breakfast items, such as homemade sausage gravy and biscuits, are priced $7 or less. Lunch dishes are $10 or less.
There are no burgers on the menu -- for good reason, Donahoe said.
"Where you have burgers, you have to have fries," she said. "And we don't have a fryer here."
Donahoe said she is expecting a lot of walk-in traffic at the cafe, which is at the northwest corner of East State and South Fourth streets, so she maintains a full section of grab-and-go items, plus coffees -- dark Italian roast, lighter breakfast blend and decaf, all $1.50 with free refills for those who dine in.
All coffees are brewed with purified water, Donahoe said.
"I know my coffee," she said.
Hours are 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. For more information, call 614-929-5275.
Preston's: A Burger Joint is departing Columbus' Brewery District for a new opportunity near Grandview Heights.
The pop-up burger outlet is joining Woodlands Backyard at 668 Grandview Ave. in Columbus later this month.
The new location offers more of a restaurant environment than Three Sheets, 560 S. High St., which is more of a bar, said Matt Heaggans, who owns Preston's with Catie Randazzo.
Their vaunted burgers, hot-chicken sandwich and vegan two-way chili -- a riff on the Cincinnati version -- still will be served at Woodlands Backyard, but a pork-belly sandwich with Cherry Coke barbecue sauce, red onion and house pickles will be new to the menu.
Woodlands Backyard features sand volleyball, mini bowling, pool tables and arcade games, as well as a spacious patio and 30 taps. Randazzo already operates Challah, a pop-up restaurant, out of Woodlands Tavern, a sister business to Woodlands Backyard.
Despite taking Preston's out of the Brewery District, Heaggans and Randazzo are planning a return to the neighborhood in early August when they open Ambrose and Eve at 716 S. High St. The restaurant will serve a seasonal, rotating menu, with brunch seven days a week.
Legacy Barbecue has pulled up the stakes on its food-truck operation in south Columbus in preparation for opening a restaurant at 3987 Main St. in Hilliard.
The central Texas-style barbecue purveyors also have become part of the Short North Food Hall, 1112 N. High St. in Columbus.
Legacy got its start in October, when its owners -- Brian Jordan, Ty Sells and Chad Smock -- began serving barbecue outdoors on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at a former Long John Silver's site, 1102 S. High St.
Harvest Pizzeria once again is on the march, acquiring Zoe Cafe in Bexley as its next location.
The locally based pizza chain will open in a couple of months at 2376 E. Main St., where Zoe operated.
Tasi Rigsby, owner of Zoe Cafe, called it a bittersweet departure and hopes to open the concept elsewhere.
Chris Crader, founder and CEO of Grow Restaurants, which includes Harvest and other concepts, could not be reached for comment.
On a related note, a different style of Harvest -- the Harvest Pizzeria & Tavern -- is under construction at the former Old Bag of Nails Pub in Grandview Heights.