The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic hasn't put Louie Pappas on the canvas, but it knocked him on his heels.
And he's swinging back.
The co-owner of Milo's Catering and Milo's Cafe has a new enterprise, Milo's Grill at the Champions Golf Course, 3900 Westerville Road in northeast Columbus.
"One of our customers golfs here, and he said they were looking for an operator who could handle a grill room and catering services," Pappas said.
In some ways, the grill is a diamond in the rough, Pappas said, with a cafe up front and a private space that can seat up to 250 after pandemic restrictions on large gatherings are lifted by health officials. The restaurant has additional room on its patio.
"We want to take advantage of the location here," he said.
The public course, managed by the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, is a stone's throw from Easton Town Center, and the main dining room is open to all.
Pappas wants to make the grill a hub for food-delivery services.
The menu features house-smoked brisket and pulled pork, Coney dogs, bratwurst, panini sandwiches, wings and gyros, with most items costing $4 to $10, he said. More substantial dinner entrees could be added later.
Private-dining customers will be able to choose from a large selection of items, per the tradition of Milo's Catering, he said.
Pappas said he intends to offer boxed meals and appetizers in the near future.
"We're adapting to what we need to do," he said.
Things have been tough for Pappas and his business partner, Demetra Stefanidis, who have been forced to close the Milo's Cafe in the Ohio Statehouse in downtown Columbus and another in the Ohio Department of Transportation building in west Columbus. Pappas said he did not renew the Statehouse lease and that location is closed permanently, but he intends to reopen the ODOT cafe.
His company's Glazed food truck also has been sidelined temporarily.
Pappas said the coronavirus pandemic has been one of the biggest challenges to the food industry in the modern era. Large wedding and graduation parties were canceled this spring and summer, and large corporations, which frequently contract for catering services, are encouraging employees to work from home.
"In 2008, when we had the Great Recession, that was tough, but we could still do business," Pappas said. "I feel like I'm wrestling two grizzly bears. It's tough."
Milo's Grill is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. For more information, call 614-364-5466.
Windward Passage is back in business after reopening July 28.
The seafood restaurant at 4739 Reed Road in northwest Columbus, is known for its walleye, inexpensive drinks and long lines.
It had been closed since March 16, the first full day after a statewide order prohibiting dine-in service went into effect.
The restaurant's menu is now available for carryout, as well.
Manager BJ Belisle said the restaurant has implemented social-distancing measures in the dining room and bar area, and customers are required to wear masks when appropriate.
As in the past, reservations are not accepted, and neither is call-ahead seating, at least for the time being, Belisle said.
Doors open at 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; kitchen hours are 4:30 to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Patrick Daly has faith in his food, but add a Josper oven to the mix, and it's a whole different ball game.
Daly, owner of the Atlas Tavern near Polaris Fashion Place, is planning a Labor Day weekend opening for Nomad Hot Kitchen & Cool Spirits in the former Sweet Carrot location at 2050 Polaris Parkway.
He said the charcoal-fired oven, first developed in Spain, has a special ventilation system that allows the temperature to rise and fall dramatically, similar to barbecuing indoors.
Daly said the menu will include grilled meats and vegetables, pastas, sandwiches, burgers and other items.