An avid homebrewer and engineer by trade is opening central Ohio's latest taproom.

Alex Spires is putting the finishing touches on Spires Social Brewing Co., which takes over a portion of the building once occupied by Claddagh Irish Pub, 8757 Sancus Blvd. in the Polaris shopping district.

A late June opening is planned, Spires said.

Although Gov. Mike DeWine lifted some restrictions on restaurants and bars, which were permitted to offer outside dining and carryout service May 15 and dine-in service with social-distancing stipulations May 21, Spires decided to hold off to see whether the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic still posed a threat to the industry.

"My biggest concern is I didn't want to open and close and lay a bunch of people off," said Spires, who lives in Westerville with his wife, Megan, and two children, Riley, 14, and Will, 11.

Spires said he likely will start out with a blonde ale, hefeweizen, also to be used in a shandy flavored with lemon or raspberry; two India pale ales (one unfiltered); and a pale ale. The offerings are expected to change with the season, he said.

Spires said he will have three or four taps reserved for local breweries and a couple for homemade sodas enjoyed by his sons.

Spires also will offer beer-making classes at the taproom, a rarity in central Ohio. He said each class will be limited to about 10 people.

One of the bonuses of the space is the large patio overlooking the pond at JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s sprawling campus.

Leftovers from the previous tenant include a fire pit and gas fireplace, which will be put to use on cooler nights, Spires said. There also will be two glass garage doors leading into the taproom from the patio, he said.

Spires, a 34-year-old manufacturing engineer for a local company, said he has been brewing since he was young, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Dick Spires, who was a wine- and beer-maker.

Spires said making wine took too long to make and enjoy. Beer was easier to make and quicker to test, so he stuck with it.

"It's about the experience of brewing," said Spires, a certified cicerone, which is a certification program for beer-making professionals. "The more I learn about beer, the more I like it."

Spires Social Brewing Co. has no food service, but customers can order from nearby restaurants.

Megan Spires, a craft-beer enthusiast, said she is excited for the taproom to open.

"I definitely enjoy the more personal atmosphere and socializing," she said.

====

The mystery is over: The storefront next to Meshikou in northwest Columbus is going to be Meshikou Chikin.

Co-owner Mike Shek said the restaurant, 1504 Bethel Road, will specialize in regional Asian fried chicken and dipping sauces, such as Korean chicken with gojuchang, Japanese with ponzu and Hong Kong-style with salt and pepper.

Sides will be limited to rice and coleslaw.

Expected to open in a few months, Meshikou Chikin will offer mostly carryout service and just a few seats inside the restaurant. For months, the windows had been papered over and the Meshikou staff was mum about plans.

====

Hot Chicken Takeover reopened May 17 in Clintonville with a few tweaks to its menu.

The Nashville-style fried chicken restaurant, 4203 N. High St., is offering a la carte sides, "not chicken" Mondays featuring vegan and vegetarian choices and an all-thigh meal.

Hot Chicken Takeover is taking safety precautions, has opened a pickup window, has instituted carryout and curbside pickup and is encouraging customers to order online for efficiency.

The new menu soon will be rolled out at the restaurant's three other locations.

====

Burgerim, a premium burger brand specializing in 3-ounce Angus, dry-aged and Spanish beef burgers, along with other choices, such as lamb and salmon, has opened at 3744 Fishinger Blvd., in the Mill Run development.

The franchise is owned by Gus Khater.

Premium toppings are available, as are milkshakes, chicken strips and a few sides.

A Burgerim at 121 S. High St. opened three years ago and is owned by another franchisee. A location on East Broad Street in east Columbus has since closed.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary