Boba/Coffee Shop Coming to East Market; Stories on High Opens
Restaurant openings, closings and more Central Ohio food and drink news
Openings & Announcements
Raymond Kim, the owner of Koso Hae in the East Market, is ready to open his second business—this one inspired by growing up on the West Coast. Little Cat Boba, a boutique tea and coffee shop, will be located right beside its sibling Korean eatery, Koso, at 212 Kelton Ave. Kim is looking to open by next month.
On the West Coast, boba (aka bubble) tea shops are ubiquitous. Here in Columbus, bubble tea shops have been popping up for years, but Kim wants to go in a different direction from national boba franchises like Kung Fu Tea. Taking a more artisanal approach, Little Cat plans to make its syrups in-house and use high quality teas from Rishi Tea & Botanicals, out of Milwaukee.
“We wanted to fill a niche. I feel like no one [in Columbus] is doing a more upscale, boutique boba concept,” Kim says. “We will have black milk tea, green milk tea, oolong milk tea. And we really want to keep [the menu] as simple as possible.”
In addition, Little Cat’s coffee and espresso program will give Kim the chance to exercise the knowledge he gained working as a barista for five years during his undergrad years. Kim is planning on a tight menu of pour overs and classic espresso drinks like lattes and macchiatos—he's leaving the mochas and caramel lattes to Starbucks, he says. He expects to source coffees locally (from Brioso and Luck Bros.) but also from roasters farther afield. He's currently working on getting wholesale accounts with Kumquat Coffee & Tea in L.A. and Fritz Coffee Co. in South Korea.
The name Little Cat pays homage to Kim’s mother. As a child, Kim says he would try to sneak treats hidden on top of the refrigerator. His mom’s Korean nickname for the mischievous little boy loosely translates to little cat.
Kim was named a Columbus Monthly Tastemaker in 2022.
The city’s highest rooftop bar, Stories on High, is now open on the 28th floor of the new Hilton Columbus Downtown tower, located at 404 N. High St. The lounge pairs its sweeping city views with a cocktail-focused bar menu and Asian-leaning small plates such as rock shrimp tempura, yakitori, wagyu beef tartare, sashimi, nigiri and mango sago. There’s also wine and sake by the glass or bottle, cider and beer. Check out the menu here.
On Wednesday, Ray Ray’s Hog Pit unveiled its newest permanent location. The signature black food truck and barbecue smoker will be parked outside Flint Station (225 Park Road), a bar and live music venue north of Worthington. The truck will hold its soft opening from 11:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24, and the grand opening takes place Saturday during the same hours, with giveaways and $3 drafts at Flint Station. This is the sixth location for Ray Ray’s and owner James Anderson, a 2020 James Beard semifinalist for Best Chef: Great Lakes.
The Clintonville Spotlight reported this week that a former employee of George’s Beechwold Diner and Tee Jaye’s Country Place is opening Jenny’s Diner at 4768 N. High St. this spring. Owner Jennifer Dials is behind the new diner, which is expected to serve breakfast and lunch from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.
Today, American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation announced the return of their $1 million “Backing Historic Small Restaurants” grant program aimed at supporting historic small restaurants, and members of the community are invited to help identify grantees. Now in its third year, the program will award $40,000 grants to 25 historic U.S. small restaurants. In order to be eligible, “independent small restaurants must operate in historic buildings or neighborhoods, contribute to their neighborhood’s history and identity, and have a diverse story about cuisine and community in America.” Restaurant owners may apply for grants through March 12, and community members are invited to make nominations by the same deadline. You can learn more about the program and nominate a restaurant here. Notable: Out of 50 grant recipients since the program’s inception, no Ohio restaurant has been awarded a grant—yet.