Mr. Meatball Italian Food Products has created a whole new market -- literally -- on central Ohio's burgeoning East Broad Street corridor.

Owners Don and Wendy Gullatta, who live nearby, are offering homemade Italian meats and other specialty grocery-store items in a small standalone building at 61 E. Broad St. in Pataskala, just west of state Route 310.

"There are not a lot of choices out here," Don Gullatta said.

When opening the market, they simultaneously closed the retail portion of the Mr. Meatball facility at 3716 Cleveland Ave. in Columbus, where the prepared Italian foods still are made, citing safety concerns for customers and staff members.

At the Columbus facility, the company uses 350 pounds to 450 pounds of ground beef, plus eggs, bread crumbs and spices, to turn out 6,000 meatballs at once. Those numbers can triple during the holiday season.

A machine does the rolling, spitting out 130 meatballs per minute.

Gullatta said it's a simple meatball built with 81-19 ground beef (referring to meat-to-fat percentages) and balanced seasonings.

"I think it's the ratio of spices," he said. "We get a lot of comments about the garlickiness of them. (Customers) like the garlic."

Gullatta said the business serves dozens of wholesale accounts, among which are 30 to 40 restaurants, in central Ohio.

The business is about more than meatballs, though.

Lasagna, chicken Parmesan, cabbage rolls, stuffed green peppers -- all $5.99 per individual serving -- are among the prepared meals offered at the Pataskala store. Some are sold refrigerated, and others are frozen; reheating instructions are included with each option.

Mr. Meatball also makes a lot of tomato sauce, up to 60 gallons a week, which is available by the quart or gallon at the store. The shop also has limited grocery options, such as olive oil, dried pasta, cheeses, cold cuts and locally made desserts and bread.

Don Gullatta's father, Phil, purchased Mr. Meatball in 1995 from Angelo Casuccio, who was believed to have founded the company shortly after returning home from serving in the Korean War in the 1950s.

Phil Gullatta chose Santina Foods, in honor of his mother, as the name of the corporate parent company.

Don and Wendy Gullatta took over the business five years ago.

Don Gullatta's mother, Dorothy, still makes whatever soup fits her fancy for the day, including Italian wedding, chicken noodle, sausage and zucchini, as well as pasta fagioli. Phil Gullatta still drives delivery routes.

Noting the major housing and commercial development already in the works east of Interstate 270, Don Gullatta said he thinks Mr. Meatball is poised to fill a "nice niche."

"It's about to explode," he said of Pataskala and its vicinity.

Mr. Meatball's hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and closed Sundays and Mondays. For more information, call 740-919-4472.

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Cap City Fine Diner and Bar at 1299 Olentangy River Road in Columbus, near Grandview Heights, has reopened after being closed more than two months for renovations.

The renovation project included a redesigned interior to accommodate seating for larger parties, updated furniture, upgraded lighting and an expanded patio. The remodel also adds a second diner counter and parking spaces.

Cap City, part of Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, is 5,156 square feet, with seating for 202 inside and 75 on the patio. The restaurant opened in October 1995.

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Graeter's Ice Cream's latest scoop shop is open at 5410 Scioto Darby Road in Hilliard.

The company's 12th central Ohio location offers the complete menu of ice cream flavors, sundaes and frozen drinks, as well as gourmet chocolates.

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Condado Tacos' newest location opened last week at 8958 Lyra Drive, Columbus, at the Pointe at Polaris, making it the fifth local restaurant in the chain.

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Pies and Pints at 780 N. High St. in Columbus' Short North has closed. It follows the closing of Ram Restaurant & Brewery's Short North location at 906 N. High St.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary