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Dis 'n' Data
By Margaret Marten, Editor
November/December 2016


Short North Parlor Room

The Angry Baker

In the year 2000, Dragonfly Neo-V Cuisine opened at 247 King Avenue (near Neil Avenue). The owners, Magdiale Wolmark and Cristin Austin, kept the restaurant and its subsequent incarnation (Till Dynamic Fare) and other culinary appendages running for over 15 years until they moved to Detroit last April. Prior to that, the iconic King Avenue Coffeehouse, founded by the late Libby Gregory (who also launched Byzantium), later managed by her brother Timothy Gregory, inhabited the space for some 15 years after opening in 1986. Now there’s The Angry Baker.

Vicki Hink first opened The Angry Baker cafe in Olde Towne East on Oak Street in 2011, selling pastries and sandwiches. This summer, with almost a half dozen years as a restaurateur under her belt (and a new baby, Stella, to support), the 30-year-old, was ready to expand operations. The second location on King, which opened in August, is a full-service restaurant with an adjacent retail area for baked goods. The original OTE location, which will remain open, is small, so the bakers have had to work off-site for years. Those bakers now have a permanent home in the new location. The decor is rustic with dark wood floors and a bar refinished with old barn wood. Touches of color include a bright yellow ceiling and colorful artwork. The food is tasty, creative and mostly healthy with vegan and gluten-free choices. The spacious room seats approximately 50 diners.

Hink moved to Columbus in her early 20’s to attend culinary school at Columbus State Community College. She said her father, who enjoys cooking and is good at it, was a major influence. Working at Z Cucina di Spirito in Grandview with chef Travis Hyde grounded her in the craft of working with interesting ingredients from scratch, and she considers him a mentor. (He now operates Sweet-T’s Southern Style Food truck.) Her favorite item on The Angry Baker menu is the Oyster Mushroom Po Boy. Customers love that too, along with the ever-popular French toast sandwich and Fork and Knife Burrito. If you’re short on cash, a cup of soup at $4 with toast at $1.50 or an egg and home fries for $4 are worth a visit to experience the rustic, spacious environment with tempting bakery smells. You may or may not run into Hink who is busy fine-tuning the business, which more than doubled her work load. Assistants include manager Kate Chapman who made it back from maternity leave in October to help launch the King Avenue location after giving birth to her daughter, Corryn. Chapman is a food truck veteran and former cook at Carabar. Both women are immersed in the business of baking and motherhood, their faces shining from the warm ovens and the excitement and energy of continuing the lineage of another iconic King Avenue eatery.


Bizrat Misghinna
Photo © Maria Galloway

Most of you out there have cell phones and iPhones that you occasionally drop, smash, or sit on. SmartFix, a locally owned business, offers mobile phone repair and is now operating at 1196 N. High St. next to What The Rock?! The business was actually based there before the recent opening. In late 2010 (after Old World New Home vacated the space and moved across the street) Smart Fix opened and remained at 1196 through March 2015 when owners Tesfai Kifle and Bizrat Misghinna decided to sublease the space to MADE & Co. (which closed six months ago). A number of factors precipitated this chain of events.

During the infancy of the business, Smart Fix expanded into Polaris Mall, and they eventually became too busy to manage the Short North location. Misghinna, who is now sole proprietor of SmartFix after buying Kifle out, said another development over the years was learning (the hard way) that in order to create customer satisfaction, one has to use high quality parts, not copy screens, for example. He now collects thousands of broken original Apple glass screens, takes them to Shenzhen in southeastern China a few times a year and has them refurbished under his supervision. “You have to go out there and actually look at it yourself and know what you’re getting,” he said. With well-trained employees manning the store at Polaris, quality parts, and a break from traveling, Misghinna recently decided it was time to reopen the Short North location.

Misghinna, 31, grew up in East Africa, in Eritrea, and says that even as a kid he was a techie, tinkering with stereos, radios and such, but after a move from Eritrea to Seattle ten years ago, where his mother and sisters were living at the time, he shifted his interest to iPhones after his sister gave him one off Craigslist that broke within a week. He took it apart, researched how to fix it and eventually became adept at repair and so enamored with the occupation and its prospects that he continues to this day.

While growing up, Misghinna attended Italian school in Eritrea, which was colonized by Italy for half a century, and remains heavily influenced by that culture. Misghinna loves Italian food and says his favorite place in the Short North to eat is Forno Kitchen and Bar because of their Italian cuisine, particularly the pizza. Another favorite is The Happy Greek. His work is enjoyable, he adds. “In this line of work you meet all kinds of people. Business people, CEOs, doctors. It’s really nice to be able to meet other business people. It’s pretty cool.”
SmartFix is located at 1196 N. High St. The store is open Monday - Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information visit or call 614-307-8932.

Photographic Memory

Willard McCoy at Mike's Grill
Photo© Harry Williams

Former Short North photographer Harry Williams Jr. spent nine months in Southeast Asia in 2000, traveling through Thailand, Malaysia, Borneo, Singapore and Indonesia, later visiting Burma, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Kaizaad Kotwal wrote an article for this paper profiling Williams’ travels and his photographic documentation of the indigenous people. Closer to home, at Mike’s Grill in the Short North, Williams later organized an exhibit of photos he had taken of the bar at 724 N. High and its patrons. Jeff Bell wrote about the exhibit, “Lonesome Ash,” in 2003. In our online version of the story, an image caught the eye of someone recently. The photo of Willard McCoy was a surprise to his daughter, Mendy Hammond, who had never seen it. In fact, her father died before the article about the exhibit was even printed in July 2003, shortly after Williams took the photo. To further the irony, all her family photos had been destroyed a few years back, so this newfound one was an unexpected blessing: “He was very ill, and I see it in the photo,” she wrote in an email, “but nonetheless the photo epitomizes him in his element, just who he truly was. He was a good, loving, strong man, and I will always remember him as such. A single dad, on a fixed income, battling illnesses and raising a headstrong daughter. He just happened to self-medicate with alcohol.” Raised in Italian Village, Hammond added, “Mike’s will always, in my mind, be the place I grew up in. The place I learned about life in. The place where he and I formed the best bond anyone could ever have in. My father is, was, and always will be not only the best man I’ve ever met but truly my inspiration to be the best parent to my children.”

Meanwhile, Williams continues to produce fine art photography and work as a visual merchandiser in San Francisco where he relocated. He has a nine-year-old son, Kai, from a previous marriage, and a one-year-old daughter, Mia. His father (Harry) grew up on Neil Avenue in Columbus, and Williams remembers sitting on his grandmother’s porch swing there in the early ‘70s. His extended family now lives in West Jefferson, Ohio, where he was raised. He still travels and surfs. He refers to surfing as an “obsession” and says to be out surfing and have a pod of dolphins or a sea lion pop up right beside you “never gets old.” For those wanting to connect with Harry, email or visit his website

A rose by any other name

Westminster-Thurber Community, located at 777 Neil Avenue – including the new Goodale Landing apartments and Thurber Tower – has changed its name to Ohio Living Westminster-Thurber. The Ohio Presbyterian Retirement Services that owns and operates the facility has changed its name (OPRS) to Ohio Living as a rebrand to freshen up its image: “To maximize the alignment opportunities of the new brand, each of the organization’s 12 life plan communities will have Ohio Living in front of the existing community name and remove references to ‘retirement’ or ‘communities’ from their name,” states the news release. The company will honor its faith-based heritage and culture with the new tagline – Faith, Compassion and Community.

Mark Wood has also acquired image assistance from a brand booster. His development company, Wood Companies, founded by his father Sandy Wood, will market their high-end apartments under the name Wood Boutique Collection. In an effort to increase visibility of the new company name, a leasing office is scheduled to open by the end of the year on the ground floor of the building at Buttles and High that houses some of Wood’s high-end apartments – The Diplomat apartments are located above Forno Kitchen + Bar. The Wood Companies old-fashioned website (valued for its authenticity, humanness and historical resonance) has been replaced by a state-of-the-art site that leaves no stone unturned in its effort to appease the aesthetic sensibilities of its targeted audience.

Farewell, Haiku Poetic Food & Art

Haiku restaurant at 800 N. High St. is closing on December 10 after 18 years in business to make way for a Crawford Hoying development project. Similar to Kent Rigsby’s departure a year ago, it is a poignant reminder of the Short North’s rapid sea-change. Change is inevitable, but the pace feels more like a race to the finish line! Both award-winning restaurants were long-lasting and will be remembered as elegant establishments operated by creative owners who were and still are greatly respected.

Paul Liu and his wife Julie opened Haiku Poetic Food & Art on January 29, 1999. Restaurant reviewer Doral Chenoweth reported that more than one hundred people showed up. He described Haiku as “pure and picturesque.” True. The restaurant’s interior resembles a beautiful gallery or meditation retreat. In fact, it has functioned as a gallery for artists ever since its inception. Rotating shows were initially curated by Joe Baer until Adam Brouillette took over in 2004. Doug Fordyce was the first artist to exhibit at Haiku 18 years ago when they opened. Grant Gilsdorf will be the last.

The place is all about creativity. Even the menu headings are ink-brushed objets d’art. With a nod to its namesake, Haiku invites diners to compose haiku on thick paper and clothespin them to frames. Once a week, the staff clears out the old ones to leave room for the next batch. Brouillette said they sorted through “boxes and boxes of thousands of haiku that people had written over the years” during a book project for the restaurant’s 15th anniversary a few years ago. When you walk in the restaurant, there are haiku everywhere. Outdoor stands a timber pavillion with chairs and tables, piled stones and shrubs, a koi pond and strung lanterns.

It is a family-run business. Liu’s wife Julie, who studied interior design, and both his daughter Josephine, an artist, and son Justin have served as managers. “Some of those employees have been there 15 years, 16 years,” said Brouillette. “That doesn’t happen in restaurants normally.” Liu opened his first restaurant when he was 18 while attending college in Greenville, S.C., and over the years owned more than a dozen others. Haiku has surely been the culimination of his culinary career.

During a recent visit, Brouillette said many folks from the arts community were dining there. He saw Liu gaze around the room and notice Joe Baer and some artists who had shown over the years seated at the tables, and he seemed extremely overwhelmed and happy. “He had this face on showing them how happy he was,” said Brouillette, “but behind the scenes I think he has a little sadness knowing that something wonderful he created, groomed and grown is going away. I think it’s tough for him.”

A book of treasured haiku from customers and staff, along with recipes, featured artwork of past artists and thoughts from Paul is available for purchase at Haiku through December 10.

More Departures

Kit and Ace, an upscale clothing boutique that opened in June 2015 at 17 East Brickel St. near Tasi’s Café selling costly “technical apparel” closed a couple months ago. The Canadian-based company, launched in 2014 in Vancouver, plans to close one-quarter of its 60 outlets, some of which are short-term lease “pop ups” like the Short North location. Raphael Jackson was the Brickel Street shop director in the Short North. Lululemon Athletica founder and former CEO, Chip Wilson is now running the company with his wife after removing his son J. J. as co-director.

The vapor bar that opened two years ago near the Short North Stage at 1177 N. High St. closed in October. Crawford & Masters marketed itself as an upscale lounge selling premium and reserve lines of liquids. The open floor space and warmly lit interior always appeared spotless whenever I ventured in there to drop off a Gazette.

Outlook magazine acknowledged the recent passing of Rob Wagner, owner of Exile, the former bear and leather bar at 893 N. Fourth St., with a half dozen photos, tender comments, and fond reminiscing from friends. Wagner died on September 16 at the age of 51 from complications associated with a heart condition. The tribute was printed in the October 2016 issue of the magazine. Considering the clientele’s insular nature at Exile, it was a tight group, and Wagner treated them like family. He did his best to carry off the role of responsible business owner, property owner, as well as a supporter of the LGBT community.

Opening Reminders

The following businesses have opened recently: Ram Restaurant & Brewery, GoreMade Pizza, Del Baggio Pizzeria, Julep, SmartFix, Surprise! Modern Party and Cocktail Goods, Oats & Barley Market, The Angry Baker


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