Blu Olive “pops-up” at Hey Hey Bar & Grill

The pop-up restaurant concept is nothing new to Columbus. You may have paid a visit to Little Eater’s pop-up at The Hills Market Downtown this past fall. Chances are you have heard about Hot Chicken Takeover’s pop-up success in Olde Towne East. Pop-ups allow food entrepreneurs to grow their business without having to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars to open their own brick and mortar establishment. It allows them to work out the kinks, develop menu concepts, and create buzz affordably. Blu Olive At The Hey HeyThe only worry…paying the rent on time.

Blu Olive Food Truck owner Steve Carmean lucked into his ideal pop-up spot this past November at Hey Hey Bar & Grill, a Merion & German Village staple. All it took was an opportunistically timed conversation between his kitchen manager, Alexander “The Beast” Martin, and Hey Hey owner Sue Gall.

“Alex was sitting at the bar and asked about about their kitchen,” Carmean informs. “As it turns out, their previous tenant had just moved out and they were looking for someone that could excite regulars, as well as attract new customers with their food. Sue had heard good things about us and the rest was history. We signed a lease agreement within weeks of that conversation.”

Blu Olive’s pop-up is not typical of others that come and go in a matter of months. By committing to a yearlong lease, Carmean is reinventing the way pop-ups operate, in hopes of introducing the Blu Olive brand to a new community. It will also keep him out of the cold for the first time since Blu Olive’s inception, where he typically would see winter food truck sales drop-off markedly.

“We went out our first two winters and this year, I told myself I would never do it again,” Carmean gripes. “The cold is unbelievable…you’re standing in front of a huge window while your truck vent continues to pull cold air in, blasting you in the face. If that doesn’t bother you, losing all the feeling in your feet an hour into service will.”

The fear of frostbite coupled with the fact that customers simply aren’t willing to wait in the frigid conditions convinced Carmean he had to change the way Blu Olive operates throughout the winter. Operating in a warm kitchen that wasn’t on wheels was the goal for the winter, making Hey Hey a quintessential fit.

Escaping the cold was the primaryBlu Kitchen goal but with the additional space provided, Blu Olive’s kitchen is now filled with new ingredients, granting Carmean and Martin the flexibility to play with food truck favorites, while creating brand new dishes.

“When people come to Hey Hey, they’re sitting down having a beer and enjoying themselves,” Carmean notes. They’re not standing in line, trying to run back to work. That allows us more time to prep weekly specials, which we could never pull off on the truck.”

Blu Olive Garden Pasta Carmean has made sure to keep certain food truck favorites the same. The popular Bison Burger, topped with grilled onions, cheddar & blue cheese, and served with OH! Chips, has seen little change and continues to be a best seller amongst Hey Hey faithful. However, the additional space and prep time has led to revived dishes such as the trendy grilled salmon sandwich which is now a salmon club baked on focaccia, locally sourced from Matija Breads. The pop-up approach has given Blu Olive the chance to reinvent itself, allowing Carmean and Martin’s culinary excellence to shine.

“Everything is easier when your kitchen is not moving around on wheels, Carmean says. “We have more room…we don’t have to worry about running out of water or dodging equipment falling off of shelves. The hardest part has been just simply letting people know we are here. Once we get our food in front of new customers, they’re back the next week trying something new.”

Blu Olive serves 5 to 9 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday, and 5 to 11 p.m. on weekend nights at Hey Hey Bar & Grill, located at 361 E. Whittier Street, German Village. You can reach them by phone at 614-445-9512. You can find the Blu Olive Food Truck every Wednesday night from 4 to 8 pm at the Bexley Natural Market, located at 508 N. Cassady Avenue, Bexley, Ohio. You can find more information about Blu Olive at and

This story was published in the January version of the The Metropreneur.

Upcoming Cooking Class Series at the Food Fort

Bleu and Fig introduces:

Cooking Classes with Sass

at the Fort.

Cool original ideas by local female chefs.
Fun night out with good food and good friends.
Bring your own wine.

March 12:


Treats Logo 1Dinner Rescue Crew

Chef Kelly of Treats 4 Everyone (now known as Local Bake Shop) and Chef Melissa of Dinner Rescue Crew

Chicken Veloute (you’ll never use the stuff in the can again)
15 Minute Chicken a la King
Healthy Biscuits, yes…healthy biscuits
Seasonal Fruit Cobbler

Food Fort All-Stars at Pecha Kucha February 21st

Pecha whata? Pecha Kucha is a world wide organization that has been expanding the minds and interests of the citizens of Columbus for over five years. Topics range from what is cool about our city, to eating local, going green or anything a person has a passion for and can place key concepts on twenty slides.

The Food Fort has worked in partnership with Pecha Kucha since 2011 helping to source food for the event. This time around, we are taking some of our kitchen members inside the Gateway Film Center to add great food to beer and concesssions at the theater. The menu will include:

Bleu & Fig Catering:
Brown Sugar Thick Cut Candied Bacon
Red Pepper Flake Kale Chips

Destination Donuts:
Maple Sausage
Blackberry Sage
Lemon Thyme
Thai Peanut

Dinner Rescue Crew:
Mini Mexican Calzones with Taco Sauce (vegetarian)

Brown Sugar Bologna, Kettle Chip and Mustard Aioli Sandwich

Buffalo Chicken Sandwich with Blue Cheese Slaw

Treats 4 Everyone
•Two-hearted Ale with Vanilla Buttercream
•Young’s Double Chocolate Stout with Chocolate Buttercream
•Gluten-free Lime with Cardamom Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Cookie Sandwiches
•Loaded Chocolate with German Chocolate Filling
•Snickerdoodle with Cinnamon Buttercream
•Gluten-free Pistachio with Rosewater Buttercream

To learn more about Pecha Kucha, check out their Facebook page. Rumor has it that attendees will be able to see a movie for free after Pecha Kucha concludes. The only condunrum with the event is trying to figure out how to pronounce it: Pecha-Ah Kuch-Ah? Pee Cha Ka Cha? Peach_A Kucha……, it is safest just to say PK.

You can get a sense of PK February 2012 from our Facebook Album.

Food Fort Innovation Station: OH! Burgers Donuts

OH Burgers Donut BurgerAlways on the look out for something different – Brian from OH! Burgers was mulling on something new and different on his menu. His sweet potato chips have been a customer favorite since he launched in the Spring of 2012. Taking the sweet potato core of his menu to another level, Brian launched OH!-Nuts this month. Sweet Potato donuts served as a side. For the culinary daring there is the OH-Donut-Burger.

Here is a review from Wasserstrom written after the world premiere at their site.


Today I tried something new the “OH” Donuts! Let me tell you, at first sight I think I was imaging my hips getting bigger just from the way the donuts looked. Glistening with caramelized brown sugar atop a big round ball of cooked sweet potato infused dough. What I didn’t know was how I was going to be surprised by the light taste of this donut. I expected something heavy and overly sugary, but what a got was something that slowly melted in my mouth with just a hint of sweetness. And just like the sweet potato chips these donuts compliment the OH mini burgers very well as a light desert after you indulge yourselves in the “OH” Burgers.


Treats 4 Everyone (now known as Local Bakeshop)

Kelly Provost  is the owner and head baker for Treats 4 Everyone.  She started using the Food Fort at the end of 2012.  She has been growing her business with sales at The Columbus Winter Farmers Market and a New Year’s Eve event at St. James Tavern.  She is also starting to get more inquiries on catering for weddings and other special events. (Note: Kelly changed her business name to Local Bake Shop in 2013).


Describe your business.

Treats is a bakery based on the idea that everyone, regardless of dietary needs or choices, should be able to enjoy a special treat. Even within one family, there can be people that, due to their diet, can’t enjoy the chosen birthday cake. So Treats strives to make things that allow everyone to participate in the celebration, or just to enjoy on their own.

Where did the name of your business come from?   Who doesn’t like treats?!

What one word should your customers think of when they think of your business?

Variety. The flavor combinations that Treats has are so varied, people have never heard of some of our combinations – like: Brie and Fig, Pistachio and Rosewater, Avocado and Goat Cheese. We even have a line of treats that pair beer and liquor with other flavors to create unique “grown-up” flavors.
What sparked your passion for your product or service?
I watched my father, after his diabetes diagnosis, have to turn down desserts, even at family celebrations. I wanted to find a way to make sure that he could healthfully enjoy treats with the rest of the family while making sure the family didn’t feel that they were making a sacrifice.

What was the biggest challenge to getting started?
Making the decision to start was by far the hardest. I knew it would take all my free time and tons of energy. But once I decided it would be worth it, none of that mattered.

What has been your biggest surprise since starting the business?
The biggest surprise has been seeing how excited others are for my business. Everywhere I go, people want to know how I started and where I’m planning on going. It’s incredibly encouraging.

What do you like best about owning your business?
The freedom. I’m responsible for my success or failure. And people are really receptive to trying them. I love it when someone tells me they won’t like a certain flavor and after they try it, they love it!

Where do you hope to see your business in 1 – 3 years?
I want a little storefront, in an up and coming area of town and several stores and restaurants around Columbus that carry Treats’ items.

Any advice for new food based businesses?
There’s still so much for me to learn myself! But I think one important thing it to be open to anything. There are so many knowledgeable people that want to see new food businesses succeed, and they are happy to give you advice – so just listen.

If you could rid yourself of one fear what would it be.
The fear of failure. I don’t jump out of planes for a living so what’s the worst that can possibly happen? Take the risk!

Find out more about Kelly and Treats 4 Everyone Local Bakeshop ->HERE