Dennis and Denise Blankemeyer started making custom commercial furniture, mostly for restaurants, but realized they didn't have a proper showroom to display their high-end furnishings.

So they opened a restaurant -- Ghostwriter Public House -- and began serving contemporary American comfort food at 49 1/2 S. Main St. in Johnstown.

Tables, stools, foot rails, purse hangers, tufted-leather chairs and other fixtures are made at Crow Works, the couple's furniture operation, formerly American Furnishings, which they founded in 1995.

The office is above and next door to Ghostwriter, and the production facility is in Killbuck, a village about 90 minutes northeast of Columbus.

"We've been doing this for a long time," Dennis Blankemeyer said. "A restaurant is the highest in terms of creative displaying."

But there is more than furniture at Ghostwriter.

The Blankemeyers hired chef Brett Fife, most notably of Lindey's Restaurant & Bar in German Village, to build a creative menu reflecting the flavors of winter and tastes of many Ohioans.

For example, the braised short ribs are served with watercress, roasted mushrooms and a black garlic "steak sauce."

The restaurant also serves something uncommon in many central Ohio restaurants: gnudi, Italian ricotta dumplings with speck, brown butter, red pesto and basil. Most entrees cost between $15 and $31.

"We kind of had an idea of what we wanted, and (Fife) took what we conceived and expanded it," Denise Blankemeyer said.

The name is a nod to the people who make things work and don't always get the credit for it, Dennis Blankemeyer said. At Ghostwriter, the kitchen staff, servers and others make the restaurant hum, he said.

A private dining area seats eight. There is no tall barback at Ghostwriter because Dennis Blankemeyer doesn't like a cluttered look. A TV shows a loop of neutral programming, and there is no harsh lighting.

"People know they can feel comfortable here," he said.

Hours are 5 to 10 p.m. daily, extended to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. It is closed Mondays. For more information, call 740-809-1104.

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Nile Vegan is among a growing number of local restaurants where those who eat with their fingers are not considered impolite.

The Ethiopian restaurant opened recently at 1479 Worthington St., near the University District.

Owner Siyum Tefera said he would provide utensils only when asked for them. He even started a hashtag, #handsoneating.

"I try to convince them (customers) it tastes much better when you eat with your hands," Tefera said.

Nile Vegan offers such Ethiopian classics as injera, a spongy, fermented bread; sambusa, thin wheat pastry shells stuffed with lentils and other spices; and ful, stewed fava beans tossed with tomatoes, onions, jalapeno peppers and a drizzle of olive oil, served with rolls.

Tefera said the food is healthful and largely inexpensive. Combo platters for two are $15.99. Other dishes cost $10 or less.

"It's good and light, and everything is freshly made every day," Tefera said.

His mother, Tsega Mekonnen, makes the berbere and awaze spice mixtures every morning, he said.

The restaurant serves Ethiopian coffee, with beans roasted in house, along with latte and chai tea. Dairy-milk substitutes are available, Tefera said.

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A CoreLife Eatery will open in the former site of Ted's Montana Grill, 6195 Sawmill Road in northwest Columbus. There is no word on an opening date for the healthful-food restaurant.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary