At Ash & Em, success could mean the difference between eating a delicious meal or eating crow.

The Blind Ninja Dinner Challenge is a “dinner-in-the-dark” experience. Customers are blindfolded and must use their wits and teamwork to get to the bottom of a plate of food, said Marty Lee Parker, the challenge founder.

Heather Keck of Hilliard said she would try it again.

She and her husband, Brian Keck, and two friends participated, and she called it a “fun night out.”

“It was interesting to eat everything blindfolded and figure out what you were eating,” Keck said. “I think they did a very good job to ensure they were providing items most people would eat.”

The dinners started the first weekend of December at Ash & Em, 560 S. High St. in Columbus’ Brewery District.

A 6 p.m. general-public seating for 12 – two teams of six people – is available Fridays and Saturdays, said Parker, also founder of Columbus Axe Throwing, on the ground floor of 560 S. High St., and Throw Nation, 6649 Dublin Center Drive in Dublin. A Throw Nation also is in Chicago. Seating is expected to increase up to 40 in the next month.

Reservations are required.

A five-course dinner, with a vegetarian or meat option, cooked by Ash & Em, is $59.95 per person.

“This is delicious stuff; nothing is exotic,” Parker said.

For the Blind Ninja challenge, customers arrive at 5:40 p.m. for a briefing on the rules and to don a pair of opaque goggles.

They are led into the dining room, where they essentially have to solve clues to eat their food. “Food ninjas,” including Parker, are there to provide cryptic instructions.

For an added twist, customers are not given utensils, so not only do they have to find their food on the table in front of them; they also have to find a way to eat it, Parker said.

“Their success depends on their acumen of life: asking the right questions, leadership skills, communications and, most importantly, how quickly they rebound,” he said. “Being a good listener is just as important as being a good leader.”

Even if they do locate the food – and manage to consume it – another mystery yet remains.

“You won’t know what you’re putting in your mouth,” Parker said.

Although Parker presents the Blind Ninja dinner as a trial to get fed, Keck said, the instructions were not too difficult to follow, and teammates were helpful in getting others to their food.

“It was very laid-back, and they were really good at making you feel comfortable,” she said. “And being blindfolded is really nerve-racking.”

Keck called it a bonding experience “because you definitely are not clean (at the end). Food gets everywhere.”

Blind Ninja dinners are available at any time for parties of 12 or more, Parker said.

The entire experience is about two hours.

“You won’t find this anywhere else (in Columbus),” said Jared Stukey, a food ninja.

Stukey said most diners have a good time and show a sense of humor about the experience.

“It’s quite interesting to watch people eat their food while blindfolded,” he said.

For more information, go to or call 614-681-1567.