Columbus Food Adventures: A Moveable Feast

August 11, 2010 § Leave a comment


In Cuba, at night, doors open into alleyways, and people invite strangers into their living rooms to enjoy the most authentic Cuban cuisine. They are called paladares, these little home-based micro-bistros, and a tiny menu and limited seating allows for entrepreneurs to dish up genuine, flavorful Cuban fare while keeping costs low.  Operating a paladar is a way to eke out a living, not a ticket to wealth, as the government heavily taxes these microenterprises.  Furthermore, the Cuban government may choose at will to shut a paladar down, and phone numbers are subject to frequent change, making advertising a logistical challenge as well as a heavy cost. How do visitors to Cuba find these secret culinary hideaways? They rely on guides – locals who can show tourists where to find amazing and honest Cuban food.

I’m not sure how Bob Kramer, ECDI’s Director of Food Safety and Services would feel about restaurants operating out of living quarters here in Columbus, but there is certainly something inspiring about the entrepreneurial spirit of the paladares operators and the adventure of an expert-led gastronomical journey. While Columbus may seem unexotic to many (admittedly, we spent most of the last century producing a heck of a lot of Wonder Bread), we have a vibrant food culture. Still, an unguided soul in our fine area code may end up at Applebee’s or Bob Evans instead. Enter Bethia Woolf.

The industrious Bethia Woolf (of Alt.Eats.Columbus , Taco Trucks Columbus, and Hungry Woolf ) thinks that “quality and diversity of Columbus’s food scene is a story worth sharing.” This year she began Columbus Food Adventures, public tours meant to highlight our food scene from out-of-the-way ethnic eateries, to the profusion of taco trucks.

You know that ECDI keeps it local, and we especially want the food culture in central Ohio to continue to thrive.  Our Growing Entrepreneurs Initiative takes into account the high risk of embarking on food-based business ownership and offers business services and training on a sliding scale based on the needs of the participant.  ECDI closes loans every day to make business ownership and small business success a reality for central Ohioans.

What is your food-based business dream? Will you be a stop on one of Bethia’s tours in 2011? To learn more about our programs, visit and be sure to submit a general application form. Let’s get started!

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