Table Talk: Childhood vacation to Greek island inspires Clintonville restaurateur

Gary Seman Jr.
ThisWeek group
Klaudio Pali (left) and Erion Permeti have opened Rodos European Grill at 3369 Indianola Ave. in Clintonville. They are pictured at their restaurant Dec. 2.

Some prospective restaurateurs scour the country – and sometimes search abroad – to find innovative dishes and recipes for their menus.

For Erion Permeti, the food came to him.

Permeti and business partner Klaudio Pali have founded Rodos European Grill at 3369 Indianola Ave. in Columbus' Clintonville neighborhood.

The bill of fare is an ode to the street food Permeti had experienced when he was 7 years old vacationing on Rhodes, an island in Greece also known by its Romanized name, Rodos.

He vividly recalls the wafting aromas and diverse styles of outdoor food vendors, which represented myriad cultures.

“I ran into Germans, Italians – a little bit of everything,” said Permeti, who was born in Albania and moved to the U.S. at age 9.

The 16-seat storefront, just north of East North Broadway, offers light blue walls, a wooden floor, pictures of landmarks across southern Europe from Italy to Turkey, images of famous faces and a smoothie and espresso bar.

“If you go to Europe, this is like your typical café,” Pali said.

The menu now focuses on Greek, Albanian, Italian and Turkish dishes. But Permeti said he intends to offer specials ranging from German to French foods and even is open to suggestions from customers.

“I’m here for the locals,” he said.

The menu is limited by design, and it includes gyros, fried calamari, hummus and other spreads, soups and salads.

Most items, from spreads to panini sandwiches, are $5 to $12.

The menu at the Rodos European Grill in Clintonville includes a souvlaki gyro with fries and a rib-eye steak dinner with Greek salad.

The restaurant also has dinners, which top $20, on the menu: rib-eye steak, lamb chops, chicken kebabs and steak kebabs.

Signature meals include kofta (Albanian meatballs) and souvlaki made from skewered pork that is cooked vertically.

Pali said Rodos uses homemade tzatziki: strained yogurt, cucumbers, lemon juice, dill and garlic – not the creamy garlic sauce that many gyro shops serve.

The whole point of the menu is fresh and fast, with an inviting dining experience that encourages conversation, Permeti said. The only TV is programmed with a loop of the history of Europe.

Permeti said he intends to apply for a license to sell alcohol in 2021.

Both owners have worked in the local restaurant industry for years: Permeti at the Gahanna Grill and Iron Grill BBQ & Brew and Pali at the Red Door Tavern.

Hours at Rodos are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. For more information, call 614-522-1709.

New Son of Thurman joins family

The newest Son of Thurman, part of the Thurman Cafe family of restaurants, is slated for a first-quarter 2021 opening in Galena.

The second Son of Thurman will replace Mudflats Bar & Grill at 31 Columbus St., just north of the northern tip of the Hoover Reservoir.

A first Son of Thurman opened in 2013 in downtown Delaware.

“The opportunity came up, and I kind of jumped on it,” said owner Chris DeVol, who is the fourth-generation restaurateur associated with the Thurman Cafe, established in 1942 at 183 Thurman Ave. in German Village.

The roughly 3,500-square-foot space, which is undergoing a major remodeling effort, seats fewer than 90 with COVID-19 coronavirus restrictions, said DeVol, who has lived in the area for 16 years.

An advantage is the interior features mostly booths, making it easier to socially distance seating with appropriate physical barriers, he said.

Likewise, DeVol is looking to double the size of the patio to 50 seats.

The menu will mirror that of the original Son of Thurman and Thurman Cafe, both known for their extensive burger selections – yes, that includes the well-known Thurmanator – and wings.

“I wasn’t actively looking to expand, but I knew with the situation (with COVID-19) as it stands, there might be opportunities,” DeVol said.

DeVol’s mother, Donna, and uncle, Mike Suclescy, own the Thurman Cafe in German Village.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary