Things We Love: Picks from John Russo

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

If you were one of the 6,000 or so who voted for Hot Chicken Takeover to visit your ‘burg in its tour of Columbus, you have John Russo to thank for the impending coup. Russo runs the cult-like chicken eatery’s social media and helped owner Joe DeLoss devise the marketing strategy. “Joe was trying to use this to gauge interest in future locations, so where we’re getting good concentrations of votes that is nice for him to have,” Russo said. Though Russo is somewhat new to Central Ohio (he and his wife moved to Granville a little less than a year ago), the Brooklyn ex-pat is loving what he’s found so far, including HCT and Roosevelt Coffeehouse, where we met to discuss a few of his favorite things.

Locatelli cheese

In New York there was this cheese you found everywhere called locatelli, which was a pecorino Romano cheese that you use on pasta, and I found it here, finally. I’m super excited about it. It was in the North Market. The cheese guy at the North Market (Mike Kast with Curds & Whey) has everything and it was great because I was like, “You don’t happen to have, just in the off chance, locatelli pecorini,” and he said, “I do.” It’s kind of like a funkier, sharper Parmesan, like a cousin that has funky hair and Warby Parker glasses.

River Road Coffeehouse

They have a great atmosphere — more of the laidback, old-school coffeehouse feel, and I really like that. Super friendly staff and they know what they’re doing with coffee. I get their dark roast because whatever their dark roast is is awesome. I work from home, so for me it’s walking my dog or going to River Road — that’s what I do during the day. It’s like a 10-minute walk, and they have nice fast internet and big windows I can sit near.

Pig cheek at Wolf’s Ridge Brewing

They serve them with runny eggs and I’m a big fan of anything with a runny egg on it but especially off-cuts of meat. Wolf’s Ridge is our go-to. Their brunch is killer too. When I was at Hot Chicken the first time I started chatting people up and asking them what food to check out in town. A couple of people were like, “Oh yeah, Wolf’s Ridge, especially if you like off-cuts.”

Slow Watch

My wife got it for me for my birthday. It has a 24-hour face and it has one hand and each tick is 15 minutes. I’m in social media and I’m staring at screens all day, so it’s nice to have an analog thing. This is the opposite of a smart watch. It reminds me to chill out a little bit. That’s what I like about it. I’m constantly checking my phone so I don’t want to check my phone for the time. I have to check it for so many things. With this one it’s kind of nice that you have to be like [feigns struggling], “It’s 11:15-ish.” I like that about it. I like watches in general, but this is the only watch I’ll consistently wear. I like that it’s a beautiful design. It’s cool. It’s a conversation piece.

99% Invisible podcast

I’m listening to this one — it’s about architecture, design. I love that it’s in short chunks and it’s basically my commute to Columbus. It’s perfect. I’m a big RadioLab fan. I listen to a ton of podcasts, a lot of them about social media and marketing.

John Russo

CEO, CrowdMachine