Table Talk: Partners expand Pit barbecue footprint with Clintonville storefront

Gary Seman Jr.
ThisWeek group
Business partners Chimdi Chekwa (left), Bryant Browning and D'Andre Martin, along with Mike Johnson (not pictured), have opened a new Pit BBQ Grille location in Clintonville.

The gridiron gang is back and ready to tackle the Clintonville market.

Former Ohio State University football standouts Chimdi Chekwa and Bryant Browning, plus business partners D’Andre Martin and Mike Johnson, opened their newest Pit BBQ Grille on Jan. 23 at 4219 N. High St. in Columbus.

“People gotta eat,” said Martin, whose team has been playing defense during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. "It slowed us down, but we had to adjust.”

That meant more promotion of carryout and delivery and firing up the food truck, Martin said.

“It’s been an interesting journey,” Browning said.

The Pit BBQ Grille is among a cluster of independent dining spots – Hot Chicken Takeover, Gallo’s on High and Northstar Café among them – several blocks south of Henderson Road.

“I thought it would be a good niche,” Browning said. “It’s definitely a place to eat now.”

The Pit, displaying ivory brick walls, has seating for 10 during COVID-19 restrictions but will put its patio space to use when the weather is warner, Martin said.

The newest Pit BBQ Grille location is at 4219 N. High St. in Clintonville.

The Pit is known for its Cleveland-style barbecue options – Polish boy and girl sandwiches – plus ribs, rib tips, pulled pork, fresh-cut fries, typical Southern sides, an array of bowls and combos and homemade barbecue sauce.

It’s designed for quick service, as the smoked food and sauces are prepared at the Parsons Avenue location in south Columbus. The original Pit BBQ Grille, which opened in September 2016 in the Northern Lights Shopping Center on Cleveland Avenue in Columbus, since has been sold.

The partners also plan to open a food stall next month at North Market Bridge Park in Dublin.

“The growth has been amazing, especially doing it with my friends,” Martin said. “It’s like a dream come true.”

Martin has even branched out to a different line of business – bamboo toilet paper.

“We wanted to bring something that would have a direct impact on central Ohio – and save the Earth,” he said.

Using the tagline “Go Green, Stay Clean,” the company, known as Leafy, is owned by Martin, Charles Peaks, Marvin Green, Troy Cherry and Anthony Caldwell.

Martin said it is the first Black-owned bamboo toilet paper company in the state.

The eco-friendly product, which has a three-ply design, is soft, contains no chemicals and comes from a plant that produces 30% to 35% more oxygen than a comparable standing tree, Martin said.

Customers may order the toilet paper at getleafyproducts.com or at Weiland’s Market, 3600 Indianola Ave. in Columbus.

Hours for the new Pit location are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, noon to 9 p.m. Saturdays, noon to 7 p.m. Sundays and closed Mondays. For more information, call 614-674-6991.

Authentic Albanian in Linworth

An authentic Albanian restaurant plans to make a summer debut in Linworth.

Velca Grill will replace Blarney Stone Tavern, 2151 W. Dublin-Granville Road, just east of Linworth Road. The Blarney Stone has moved to 2245 W. Dublin-Granville Road.

Arnold Velcani, who owns the restaurant with his brother, Armando, and father, Arben, said the bill of fare will be strictly Albanian. In other words, no large portions of the menu will be reserved for Italian and Greek fare.

“We want to exclude that,” he said.

The space is undergoing a major remodeling project, as the entire 2,400-square-foot storefront has been stripped to the floorboards.

“We have a lot of work to do,” Velcani said.

Casual in Clintonville

MoZmoZ Restaurant & Café will replace Acre at 2700 N. High St. in Clintonville.

Owner Mo Mubaslat said the food is going to be casual American – gyros, Philly steaks, burgers, wings, fish and salads, with all entrees in the $10 range.

Mubaslat said he liked the location, bordering the University District and the Bohemian part of Clintonville, full of students and recent graduates looking for a budget-friendly meal.

“We hope we get something nice going on there,” he said.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary