It's a problem restaurateurs love to have: too many customers.

Three years after Brittney Barnhart and Gary McConnell opened Cafe Phenix at 39 E. Gay St. in downtown Columbus, the place was bursting at the seams.

"It was getting too small for what we were doing," McConnell said.

What usually follows is an expansion into an adjacent space or the opening of a second location.

McConnell and Barnhart, his wife, chose the latter.

But they didn't have to look far: Phenix Bistro has opened at 51 E. Gay St., a few storefronts east in the former Criollo space.

The expansive menu features breakfast-through-dinner items made from scratch and cooked to order, with nothing costing more than $10, Barnhart said.

The breakfast menu includes brioche French toast, omelets, biscuits and gravy, an egg sandwich and hearty platters.

For lunch and dinner, Phenix Bistro offers several signature croque-style sandwiches, open-faced dishes layered with meats, a cream sauce and cheese that are toasted to a golden brown.

The menu features mostly salads, sandwiches, quiche and soups.

"My soups are my big thing," Barnhart said.

Among the specialty sandwich options are the Cuban, pulled beef brisket, shredded jerk chicken and smoked baked salmon.

McConnell said he intends to roll out some dinners in the near future.

"There will be things from northeast England," he said.

"There will also be things from France."

McConnell said he owned a cafe in France for 10 years before coming to Columbus with Barnhart, who enrolled at Columbus State Community College.

He also received culinary training in making breads, baked goods and confections from a school in Newcastle, England.

Meanwhile, he said, Cafe Phenix (phenix being the French spelling of the word phoenix) will return to its roots: a 20-seat coffee shop that uses Berardi's Fresh Roast from Cleveland and offers baked goods.

McConnell said he had no real knowledge of Columbus when he arrived, but he is pleased by the support from the community.

"The people are great," he said. "It took awhile to get the business built up, and that's not unusual."

Hours for Phenix Bistro are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

For more information, call 614-372-5858.

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Spicy duck tongues, anyone?

The exotic dish is just one of many at Xi Xia Western Chinese Cuisine, 1140 Kenny Centre Mall in northwest Columbus. Owner Lu Sha said he was not content with opening yet another American-Chinese restaurant.

"Young Chinese people, we don't like that," he said. "It's not what we eat."

The menu concentrates on homemade broth and noodles, he said.

A popular choice is the signature lamb noodle soup, using sliced lamb, daikon, rehydrated mushrooms, green onions, hardboiled eggs and cilantro.

Another is the stirred noodles, with homemade oyster sauce, sliced beef, spinach, bok choy, bean sprouts, green onions and cilantro.

Sha also created a special menu of duck and spicy chicken feet. He said he made it permanent when he saw the reaction to the spicy duck neck, wings, tongue and head.

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A second collaboration between Land-Grant Brewing Co. and Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams has resulted in Splendid Berry Brut, which will be part of the fourth annual Jeni's Strawberry Jam from noon to 10 p.m. Sunday, May 26, at Land-Grant's Franklinton Taproom and Beer Garden, 424 W. Town St. in Columbus.

The event will feature food, craft beer, local music and lots of strawberries. Splendid Berry Brut will retail for $11.99 per six pack.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary