Why a single of Ohio’s finest dining establishments is in a gasoline station

It is not unconventional to see a line at a gasoline station but, at the oldest gasoline station in Columbus, Ohio, there are no automobiles waiting around – just people today. And they are waiting around to fill up their stomachs, not their tanks.

a group of people sitting at a table in front of a building: Pictured pre-pandemic, Katalina's is located in a 100-year-old gas station

© Nick Dekker
Pictured pre-pandemic, Katalina’s is located in a 100-12 months-outdated fuel station

Katalina’s, The Very little Café with Tons of Neighborhood Goodness, took about the 100-12 months-previous gasoline station in Harrison West 10 yrs in the past and immediately grew to become the area to go for Latin-leaning, Southern-slanted consolation food items.

Whether or not you happen to be ordering for breakfast, brunch or lunch, you should really count on a hold out because of the reputation of the Pancake Balls.

two oranges sitting on top of a wooden table: Katalina's signature Pancake Balls

© Raquib Ahmed
Katalina’s signature Pancake Balls

If you get nothing at all else at Katalina’s (but really don’t worry, you will), you have to test those people signature bites of deliciousness loaded with Nutella or dulce de leche. Extra than two million of them have been offered because the cafe opened, and they keep on to be a bestseller.

“I’ve been building Pancake Balls for my spouse and children for a lengthy, extended time,” mentioned Kathleen Day, the authentic Katalina. “They’re inspired by a beloved intercontinental dish but mine aspect a key component and are created with the ideal stoneground flour from Fowler’s, a regional mill.”

That perseverance to supporting nearby corporations has grow to be a image of Katalina’s, and it is the explanation anything is so contemporary and flavorful.

a plate of food with a slice of cake on a table: Katalina's Prego Steak Sandwich

© Raquib Ahmed
Katalina’s Prego Steak Sandwich

A winner of the “Live Like Local” philosophy (in simple fact, she trademarked it), Day buys components pretty much exclusively from her Columbus colleagues, quite a few of whom she identified at the city’s popular North Marketplace.


The pork in her award-profitable Enormous! Mazatlan Sluggish-Roasted Pork & Egg Sandwich arrives from Beeler’s the mixture of spices in her famous Holy Tomole (Tomato + Mole) soup was designed by Ben Walter the tortilla chips that accompany her sandwiches are built from Shagbark’s natural and organic heritage wheat and the espresso that starts off so numerous Ohioans’ mornings is built in smaller batches in Central America (wherever it supports females) by Thunderkiss.

Oh, and crème fraiche from Snowville Creamery appears in really substantially all the things from the Award-Winning Breakfast Tacos to Katalina’s Latina Sandwich.

Day has filled her Original Pancake Balls with every variety of jam and fruit butter from Cooper’s Mill and complemented them with loaded, Bourbon-barrel aged maple syrup from Milligan’s.

a close up of a sandwich on a plate: Katalina's Southern Fried Buttermilk Chicken Sandwich

© Eric Wagner
Katalina’s Southern Fried Buttermilk Rooster Sandwich

“When I opened a decade ago, really handful of ‘fast casual’ places to eat were concentrating on local and natural and organic elements, in particular in the Midwest,” stated Working day. “I was not searching to be ‘trendy.’ I just skipped the road burritos I was employed to from The Mission District in California and the homecooked dishes I experienced grown up ingesting. I genuinely just needed to make and source the meals that I needed to take in.”

Day has been a passionate cook dinner given that the age of 9, when she employed to try out her hand at Julia Child’s recipes in Parade journal. She set off opening her possess cafe until eventually afterwards in lifestyle, immediately after she experienced saved ample cash by caring for kids as an au pair in France, cooking for a Countess, ready tables and operating in promotion.

a car parked on the side of a building: The original gas station that's now Katalina's

© Katalina’s
The primary gas station which is now Katalina’s

“As before long as I observed the fuel station, complete of cigarette butts and graffiti, I envisioned my Indian Circus gentle signal in excess of it and knew how a lot probable it experienced to be my desire house,” remembered Day. “I pretty much signed on the dotted line in a couple of weeks and left my corporate marketing and advertising job. The community is now 1 of the most appealing in Columbus.”

The graffiti is still there, while, supplying Katalina’s a down-to-earth authenticity that makes company come to feel right at residence and encourages them to add their individual contributions to the artwork. In accordance to Working day, the most demanding aspect of turning an previous gas station into a modern day day restaurant was the simple fact that it was only 600 sq. feet.

“There’s only room for a person restroom, and Columbus involves two restrooms for a liquor license,” she described. “So, the rationale we do not serve dinner is just by default.”

With only 26 seats inside and 50 on the patio (but presently open for curbside decide-up and supply), it is no wonder Day opened her next restaurant, Katalina’s, As well! in Clintonville. The demand was substantial and the title instantly recognizable.

a woman eating a banana: Kathleen Day, the real Katalina

© Raquib Ahmed
Kathleen Working day, the true Katalina

“Katalina is my identify in Spanish, and it’s what the Latin employees have named me in just about every restaurant I have ever labored in, from Arkansas to Paris,” she explained.

There’s a very good probability Working day will open up a third site in the in the vicinity of long term.

“I aspiration about new menu products,” she admitted. “That’s my most loved part of working the places to eat.”

New menu items?

“Don’t worry,” she laughed. “As prolonged as there’s a Katalina’s, there will usually be Pancake Balls.”

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