Lana Moynihan had a dilemma: Open for carryout only and ride out the COVID-19 coronavirus storm, or wait until Gov. Mike DeWine lifts the order that closed restaurants for dine-in service.

Editor's note: In the wake of Gov. Mike DeWine's March 15 order to close Ohio's bars and restaurants to diners because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, restaurants still were able to operate via carryout service and delivery. Check ThisWeekNEWS.com for updates on restrictions.

Lana Moynihan had a dilemma: Open for carryout only and ride out the COVID-19 coronavirus storm, or wait until Gov. Mike DeWine lifts the order that closed restaurants for dine-in service.

Moynihan said her landlord made the decision for her: Open up.

So Cafe Elena has opened, with a limited menu for now, in the former Skyline Chili at 2054 Crown Plaza Drive in northwest Columbus.

A breakfast-and-brunch operation, Cafe Elena has an international flare gleaned from Moynihan's mother, Elena Birukow, a Moscow native who spent 35 years in kitchens learning different cuisines.

Part of that experience was in the United States, where she moved 15 years ago, with her daughter to follow shortly thereafter.

Although Moynihan works part time, she and her mother are owners of Cafe Elena.

"We try to teach each other," Moynihan said.

The abbreviated menu includes teriyaki salmon and Greek chicken power bowls, a burger and a few salads and soups.

On the breakfast side, the Russian Grandma has been an early hit. The dish features buckwheat porridge, two eggs and two crepes with smoked salmon, topped with cream cheese and a side of fresh fruit compote.

An American version also is available, with scrambled eggs, caramelized bacon, homestyle potatoes, a buttermilk pancake served with maple syrup and a choice of granola-yogurt parfait or oatmeal.

"We intentionally fused foods," Moynihan said. "What we want is to have a meal for everyone because we are diverse."

Most items on the menu are $12 to $14.

The storefront has seating for 80, and it has bold green, orange and aquamarine walls, with a counter offering a view to the open kitchen.

When the dine-in prohibition ends, Moynihan and Birukow will begin serving homemade Russian dishes, including borscht, pelmeni (meat dumplings), crepes with ground beef and sweet cheese fritters.

Moynihan and Birukow also were partners in Elena's Specialty Cakes in Columbus' Short North, which closed in 2018 after three years in business. Cafe Elena also makes special-occasion cakes, plus an assortment of other sweets, including slices of Russian honey cake.

Moynihan said she also will make fresh smoothies for the workout crowd at Planet Fitness, a neighboring business.

She said she has confidence her concept will fit in on the busy Bethel Road corridor.

"People will come in already and say, 'Thank you for being open. We need this.' "

Delivery services also are available at Cafe Elena.

Hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. For more information, call 614-726-0726 or go to cafeelenas.com.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary