A local brewery with a commitment to Worthington is working to change the perception of an entire corridor in the city.
Since relocating to a larger space with a public taproom at 7020 Huntley Road, Zaftig Brewing's owners say they have tried to change the way residents see the largely industrial and commercial part of the city.
And with a large new patio opening soon, co-owners Jim Gokenbach and Jason Blevins say they want the business to be a "destination" for both Worthington residents and passersby.
When the brewery opened the taproom at its new 6,500-square-foot facility in May 2016, developing the site into a popular hangout wasn't at the forefront of the owners' minds.
"It wasn't so much about being in the ideal spot, but about being in Worthington and being able to find a space that was affordable to us and was big enough for us," Gokenbach said. "It was something we could make into a nice space."
But when Zaftig applied to occupy the site despite its industrial zoning, even city staff members realized the corridor was an underserved market.
Planning and development director Lee Brown said the restrictive zoning "didn't make a lot of sense," and he envisioned that opportunities like Zaftig's taproom could help drive customers to the area.
"In our minds, looking at that whole eastern portion of the town, it was really an ideal place to transition from the most intense industrial area we have to the restricted (industrial) area," he said at the time.
Gokenbach said traffic to the taproom hasn't been "beyond expectations," but the brewery is making an effort to attract people.
Zaftig has food trucks parked outside regularly and is trying to establish a Wednesday "game night." Gokenbach said the goal is to offer something different than the more dense parts of central Ohio "where you can literally walk from brewery to brewery."
The brewery's niche, he said, might simply be to serve as a middle ground between breweries farther into the suburbs and the popular Columbus destinations.
"I would love to say that we're leading the charge," he said. "Do I foresee a bunch of other stuff moving in here? Not really.
"But at the same time, it's opened some people's eyes in Worthington or who work around here that it's a nice stop-off point, and it's certainly driving a lot more business for Worthington than it was previously."
Gokenbach said Zaftig is aiming for a late April or early May opening for its patio. Zaftig also has plans for a three-year anniversary celebration April 15 that includes food trucks, live music and special-release beers.