Columbus Food Adventures now is throwing surprise parties for adventuresome diners.
Because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the restaurant-tour business has turned into a meal-delivery service, taking food to patrons who have no idea what kind of dish is in the to-go container, said Bethia Woolf, a partner in the company.
"That's the whole point," she said. "It's a complete surprise."
Customers must place orders by Friday for the following week at columbusfoodadventures.com and choose one of two time slots: 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. or 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays. Some restaurants provide a printed menu and link to an online video explaining the meal.
A meal for two is $40, and there is no delivery fee.
On a typical night, the company serves 20 to 40 meals, Woolf said.
Thus far, Columbus Food Adventures has chosen more than 30 restaurants inside Interstate 270, and not one participant or meal has been repeated, she said. Woolf said some restaurants have gone off their menu to provide a unique experience.
"We've had a really great reception," Woolf said, adding the business will have served its 1,000th meal this week. "I think people love to have a surprise.
"It gives a real nice boost to the restaurant. When we go order 20 meals at a time from them, that makes all the difference to them financially," she said.
Woolf and her husband, Andy Dehus, own Columbus Food Adventures, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month. Before the pandemic, the business took parties of about 14 patrons to five to seven restaurants at a cost of $52 to $72 per person.
Although many restaurants have reopened for dine-in service, it can be difficult to accommodate large parties. Another issue is that most of the people on the tour are strangers so they're reluctant to pile in a bus for an evening out, she said.
"Honestly, it's too hard to plan at the moment," she said.
For more information, go to columbusfoodadventures.com or call 614-440-3177.
The Clintonville dining scene continues to grow and diversify.
The latest restaurant to call the neighborhood home is Rodos Mediterranean Grill, which is set to open in a month or so at 3365 Indianola Ave.
Erion Permeti, who owns Rodos with Claudio Pali, said the place would specialize in foods from the north Mediterranean rim: France, Italy, Greece and Albania (technically north of the sea).
Permeti said he would start mostly with pickup and carryout dishes from the 1,400-square-foot space, which would have five tables and bar seating when social-distancing restrictions are lifted.
He said he wants to acquire a liquor license, but that would require a vote by the community to turn that district wet.
It seems everything has gone digital these days, including wine tasting.
Napa Kitchen + Bar, 925 N. State St. in Westerville, which emerged from a short remodeling project with a change in name from the Wine Bistro, has started virtual interactive wine tastings with Idlewild Winery owner and producer Sam Bilbro.
Napa Kitchen + Bar opened July 9 with a broader menu, fuller bar offering and larger wine inventory. With other locations in Dublin and Cincinnati, it is part of City Brands, an offshoot of local developer Metropolitan Cos.
The streaming wine-tasting program is in response to social-distancing rules. A monthly wine feature will spotlight select vineyards and wine, charcuterie-board options available for carryout and delivery and the link to join the session live.
City Brands remains the operator of Wine Bistro locations across central Ohio.
El Vaquero Mexican Restaurant, with its wide-ranging menu of Tex-Mex dishes, has opened at 6549 Perimeter Drive in Dublin.
It joins 10 other El Vaquero locations in central Ohio and is the second in the Dublin area.