Powell's Karla Woolley looks forward to opening Locust Table restaurant
Chef Karla Woolley lives in Powell, which partly is why she wanted to open a restaurant in the city.
With the opening of a made-from-scratch, fast-casual breakfast and lunch space, Woolley will have succeeded.
Although she has no definite opening date for the Locust Table – final inspections and staff training are underway – Woolley said, she is “trying to be patient.”
Woolley signed the lease on the space in Powell Crossing, 147 W. Olentangy St., in 2019, and construction "was supposed to be a three-month project,” she said, adding that most of the delays have been due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic for various reasons.
Despite the hurdles, Woolley, who lives a short walk or bike ride from the location, remains committed to the concept.
“It’s something that’s missing in Powell,” she said of the breakfast-lunch menu. “And it’s the kind of restaurant I want to eat at as a resident of Powell.”
Both the Locust Table and Skin & Sugar are at Powell Crossing, which has the distinction of using two addresses for the same location: 16 Crossing St. and 147 W. Olentangy St.
Skin & Sugar owner Sarah Jacobson said she likes having the Locust Table nearby.
"The beauty of Skin & Sugar and the Locust Table being neighbors is seeing people really embrace the concept of treating themselves, especially after a hard year. Having a day of facial treatments, and then a full belly of incredible food afterwards, is what I would call the perfect combination of businesses in one area," said Jacobson, who also has a Sugar & Spice store in Upper Arlington.
The menu for the Locust Table will be small and will focus on made-from-scratch dishes that draw from a variety of traditions, from Mexican and American to Korean and Thai, Woolley said. Parts of the menu will change seasonally, and she is sourcing as many of her ingredients from Ohio as possible, in particular using local meats, eggs and vegetables.
Woolley described a little of the back story on the restaurant's website at thelocust-table.com:
The Twin Locust Farm, founded by my first-generation German immigrant Great-Great Grandparents remains in my family today and is the inspiration for the name. ‘The Farm’, as it is affectionately known to the family, has been the focal point for family gatherings throughout the decades. Many great meals have been shared there. It has not been a working farm for decades, but in recent years it has revived by my father and his siblings who have replanted the large vegetable gardens, started two small vineyards and brought the apple and pear orchard back to life. Along with honey bees and flowers, we hope The Twin Locust farm will be a great source for products and produce for The Locust Table.
Woolley said opening during a pandemic is an obvious challenge.
“Masks for my employees were not in the original business plan,” she said, only half joking.
She said she hopes her plans for both dine-in and carryout will see the Locust Table through these difficult times.
“We’ll be at about 60% capacity if I can get the tables in the right spots,” she said. “Curbside will be a heavy focus.”
She said she is considering adding a dinner-to-go option, staffing the kitchen afterhours even though the dining room would be closed, and perhaps finding ways to capitalize on the city’s Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area hours, as well.
Woolley has worked in food service since her teens, she said. Since earning a degree in hospitality management from Ohio State University, she has managed locations of North Star Cafe.
Woolley said she's a central Ohio native and is excited to follow her entrepreneurial spirit in the same part of town where she’s raising her family.
“I love the idea of being so close to downtown (Powell). I’m excited to be a part of the city’s future,” she said. “This is a community that supports local businesses and local restaurants in particular.”
Hours are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.