A Gastronomic Day Trip to Granville
Exciting things are happening in this quaint Licking County village. Here’s a taste.
It’s a sunny September morning, and beautiful light is streaming in through the recently uncovered windows at Hashi, a new Korean/Japanese restaurant on Granville’s main drag. As Hashi’s co-owner Steven Baldwin explains how the restaurant came together, James Anderson of Ray Ray’s Hog Pit fame walks in through the back door, wide-eyed at the building’s transformation. (The space had previously housed Moe’s Original BBQ, which closed amid the pandemic.) Chad Short, the co-owner of Village Coffee Co. next door, figured these two restaurant owners should know each other, so he marched Anderson over to make introductions.
That tells you a lot about this Licking County village, the home of Denison University.
Baldwin and Anderson represent two of Granville’s “new guard,” as the pitmaster puts it. The two entrepreneurs, both Granville residents, are bringing fresh ideas to the New England-style village, founded in 1805. Hashi opened in late September, almost six months after Anderson, a James Beard Award nominee, unveiled Ray Ray’s Meat + Three, his first sit-down restaurant.
The village was so enthusiastic about Anderson’s modern spin on the Southern meat-and-three that the Granville Township Trustees officially proclaimed April 14, 2021, Meat & Three Day. The resolution was aimed at thanking Ray Ray’s for its renovation of the abandoned Creno’s Pizza building, thus creating a handsome new “entrance” into the village—pig statue and all.
Other developments—such as a new small-batch coffee roaster, an expansion of Three Tigers Brewing Co., a baking company from the owner of Harvest Pizzeria and a start-up cidery—amount to an exciting time to live in or visit Granville, just a 40-minute drive from Columbus. If you are planning a day trip or a weekend stayover at the Granville Inn or Buxton Inn, here are some places to check out.
Located in the heart of Granville’s main drag, Village Coffee Co. (132 E. Broadway), owned by Chad and Brigette Short, celebrated 20 years in business last year. Village Coffee is the quintessential college town coffee shop—neither a large chain nor a third-wave coffee roaster with Kyoto cold brew towers. In addition to drip coffee and espresso drinks, this simply decorated shop offers a variety of breakfast pastries, bagels, breakfast and lunch sandwiches, soups, salads and sweets.
One of the village’s most iconic signs belongs to Aladdin Diner (122 E. Broadway), the kind of all-American greasy spoon that every small town needs, complete with retro-red seats and a black-and-white checkered floor. Here, you’ll find breakfast standards like pancakes, omelets and egg dishes as well as smashburgers, deli sandwiches and salads for lunch.
Looking for a more healthful alternative to diner fare? Jake and Sabrina Warner’s Prospect St. Smoothie (134 N. Prospect St.) is a good stop for organic (when possible) fruit smoothies, smoothie bowls and oatmeal.
One of this year’s most exciting restaurant openings wasn’t in Columbus—it was Ray Ray’s Meat + Three (1256 Columbus Road), a standalone restaurant from barbecue purist James Anderson that somehow elevates Ray Ray’s offerings even further. Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday, Anderson’s modern meat-and-three invites you to choose a protein, such as its succulent brisket or jerk chicken, plus three sides ranging from collard greens to mac ’n’ cheese to German potato salad. Other Ray Ray’s favorites like smoky pork ribs are here, but one of the outpost’s biggest draws is its whole hog barbecue, now served daily until they run out.
Rob Dougan and his son, Torey, took over Alfie’s Wholesome Food (221 E. Broadway) from the original owner three months before the pandemic hit. Since the health-conscious café is a carryout with patio seating, Dougan says his business hasn’t missed a step. In fact, Alfie’s recently opened a ghost kitchen in Columbus. The main draws here are scratch-made deli salads and sandwiches, such as the Alex (chicken and pesto on baguette) or the V.W. (turkey with brie and fig jam). Don’t miss the rosemary lemonade, either. If you’re visiting Alfie’s on the hour, keep an ear out for the animated clock at the Robbins Hunter Museum next door. A hand-carved statue honoring Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for U.S. President and a Licking County native, makes an appearance each hour.
With a frequently packed patio on Granville’s main drag, The Pub on Broadway (126 E. Broadway) is a casual spot serving standard American bar fare in a charming old building. Go here for cold beer, wings, cheese curds, burgers, sandwiches, meatloaf and fish and chips.
Granville’s newest restaurant seeks to build a bridge between Korean and Japanese cuisine. Hashi (128 E. Broadway), meaning “bridge” in Japanese, is the work of general contractor and Granville resident Steven Baldwin and his mother, Sukye. Baldwin, who grew up in Gahanna, spent months renovating the former Moe’s Original BBQ space, filling it with white oak and clean lines. The menu features sushi prepared by chef Shabrina Thomas, using fish overnighted from Japan. Korean dishes such as kimchi pancakes, galbi beef and bulgogi round out the menu, all prepared by Baldwin’s aunt (“imo” in Korean), recently a cook at the excellent Min Ga Korean Restaurant in Columbus. The plan is to serve the Korean dishes on push carts. “We’re keeping it pretty traditional,” he says. “They’ll come for the sushi, but they’ll keep coming back for the Korean food.” Hashi’s building is actually a twofer. Above the street-level restaurant, Baldwin is planning a music venue, cocktail bar and Korean street food spot dubbed Hashi Up that will be the only bar in town open until 2 a.m.
For fine dining in the village, the stately Granville Inn (314 E. Broadway) is the obvious choice. The Jacobethan Revival-style inn, open since 1924, is a popular spot for special occasions, so reservations are needed to snag a spot in the inn’s handsome Oak Room or on the patio. The menu features American grill fare such as French onion soup, filet and pan-roasted walleye. At press time, the inn was serving dinner only because of the pandemic. Call ahead to check.
Popular among Denison students, Taco Dan’s (119 ½ S. Prospect St.) is an eclectic, laid-back taco shop and bar that feels like you’re hanging out in the owners’ house. The quirky eatery offers a pool table, a small bar and a menu of tacos, nachos, enchiladas and more.
Fancy a drink with the ghosts? Founded in 1812 as a tavern and stagecoach stop, the quaint Buxton Inn (313 E. Broadway) is Ohio’s longest continuously running inn and was once a stop on the Underground Railroad. Today, the Buxton proudly touts its haunted hotel status (poltergeist activity is said to be common in room Nos. 7 and 9), and the inn hosts ghost story/history tours through mid-November. Visitors can stop for a drink at Buxton’s handsome main bar known as The 1812 Lounge, which features a wonderful, mirrored chandelier and a large painting titled “Flaming June,” a local artist’s reproduction of the original. The lounge offers happy hour 4–6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Or you can head downstairs to The Tavern (call ahead for hours), a more rustic watering hole in the cellar. But you know what they say about going down to the basement.
The taproom at Three Tigers Brewing Co. (140 N. Prospect St.) has quickly become one of the village’s most beloved watering holes since opening in 2016, and it’s ready to expand. The brewery and its sister restaurant, Vietnamese-inspired Mai Chau Kitchen, have secured village approval to move into a much larger space just across the street—the former Granville Fire Station building. While construction finishes, ask bar manager Brett Fulton to pour you one of Three Tigers’ house brews—such as the Small Axe pale ale or Brother Sam oatmeal stout.
A favorite among locals, Snapshots Lounge is a shabby-chic neighborhood bar, eatery and patio that resides in an old house with photo snapshots lining the walls. The menu is classic American and affordable, with salads, sandwiches, burgers, mac ’n’ cheese and rotating specials. Grab a beer and order Luke’s Sinful Snack, aka potato chip nachos. Live music takes place weekly, and don’t miss Nana’s Naked Cheesecake, a family recipe.
You won’t want to overlook the white barn known as Seek-No-Further Cidery (126 E. Elm St.), only the second cidery in Central Ohio (after Mad Moon Hard Cider). At this new addition to the village, owner Trent Beers celebrates Granville’s ties to New England with house-made dry ciders, guest ciders, cocktails and cider slushies. Visitors have multiple seating options at this 1,300-square-foot cidery, including a downstairs bar, an upstairs “lodge” and an inviting patio.
Deserts, Coffee & Bread
At Bella’s, Fresh is Best
You could say Ryan McGuire and Aaron Olbur met over a cup of coffee. McGuire was already an experienced roaster when he met Olbur at Sunrise Coffee Club, an event hosted by McGuire in Granville. “He would show up to Bryn Du Mansion, and he would make everybody a free cup of coffee right before the sunrise,” Olbur says. “I was really inspired by that.” When the pandemic began, Olbur got furloughed from his job in sales with New Balance, and the pair set up a roaster in Olbur’s garage.
In April 2020, a new subscription-based business was born: Bella’s Beans, named after McGuire’s daughter. As people were stuck in their homes during the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, they appreciated having freshly roasted beans show up at their door. “We want to make you the [freshest] coffee that you could have. We roast on Sundays, and I will deliver on Sunday afternoon or on Monday morning,” Olbur says.
Bella’s Beans is also all about community.
“Half of our business is really service-oriented,” he says. “During the pandemic we roasted about 270 samples for all the teachers in Granville. We’ve roasted for all of the firefighters in Granville.”
Bella’s Beans delivery is free in Granville, but shipping is also available throughout Ohio. For now, the pair plan to stick to their direct-to-consumer model, but you can find a cup of Bella’s Beans coffee at Three Tigers Brewing Co. during brunch or at Seek-No-Further Cidery during special weekend events.
A Familiar Name Launches Granville Bread Co.
Chris Crader is best known for the artisanal pizza chain he founded in Columbus, Harvest Pizzeria, but in the past year he has quietly opened a new wholesale bakery, Granville Bread Co. After living in German Village for 12 years, he and his family moved to Granville five years ago for the schools and the space. “Granville just has such a special and unique charm, and something you can’t find anywhere else in Central Ohio,” Crader says about the village.
When the wholesale bakery Lucky Cat succumbed to the pandemic, Crader took over its Granville space. “Since we found out we had been awarded that pizza contract for the [Columbus] zoo, we were in dire need of a commissary space,” Crader says. Initially, he had no intention of opening a bakery, but the chance to offer freshly baked bread at his Harvest locations was too appealing. Crader, who rarely does anything half-way, has also hired some serious talent at his bakery, including head baker Kate Djupe, who most recently did great work at Service Bar.
Other than Crader’s Harvest locations, you can find Granville Bread Co.’s offerings at Ross Granville Market and Lynd Fruit Farm. The bakery also makes focaccia pizza crust for Harvest’s new sister concept, Silo in German Village. Crader says he’s always looking for an opportunity to bring Harvest to Granville, but the right location hasn’t surfaced yet. He also hopes to bring a breakfast-lunch-dinner concept to the area, though he’s mum on the details. Stay tuned.
At Whit’s Frozen Custard (138 E. Broadway), customers can choose from vanilla, chocolate or a flavor of the week and then load up the toppings. Granville happens to be home to the first location of Whit’s, which now boasts frozen custard shops across 10 states (many of them offering vegan flavors). The popular Granville shop, founded in 2003 by Chuck and Lisa Whitman, will soon move a block east into a roomier space with a paved patio—the yellow house located at 266 E. Broadway that once housed Goumas Confections.
This story is from the November 2021 issue of Columbus Monthly.