It’s a strange thing, I think. My neighborhood houses some of the most creative, passionate and interesting foodies, food writers and food innovators in Columbus. What Clintonville lacks, though, are great dining establishments. It seems that for every Sage American Bistro, Ray Ray’s Hog Pit and Alana’s, we have four or five fast food chains or straight-from-the-GFS-can joints lining our streets. So when food trucks arrived to my part of the city, tipping the fare scale from “boring” and “meh” to “interesting” and “delicious”, our elected officials’ first impulse was to enforce obsolete laws that push them out of our area.
Perhaps The Coop’s location at Cliffside and Indianola is too close to the Clintonville border with Old North Columbus for our legislators to care. Or perhaps relying on the oncoming cold weather was an easier food truck deterrent. (Sound familiar, anyone?) I’m not sure why the relatively new truck owned and operated by Angie Theado seems immune to archaic laws, but I am thrilled to have this truck as a dining option in my neighborhood.
With an ever-changing menu (based on locally-available produce and poultry), The Coop usually has three to five options for dinner, each using poultry (or eggs) as a clean slate for around-the-world flavors. In my visits, I’ve had roasted chicken, turkey-based noodle dishes (accented with bok choy), a southwestern mix of sweet potato hash, black beans and a local fried egg. I’ve had French omelette sandwiches, chicken salad and a bite of the best peach that I’ve ever had in my life.
All of these items were lovingly presented (because owner-operators do not do anything without love) by Angie Theado. With prices reflecting the quality ingredients, nothing at The Coop is going to compete with the value menu from nearby Dairy Queen. Not price-wise, anyway. Each entree ranges from six to nine dollars, with healthy portion sizes served with compostable containers.
Value is the key word in The Coop equation. I value having a place close to home that serves me items I wish I had time to make, served in combinations that guarantee that I’ll get nutrients with my slow-roasted chicken. I value knowing my neighbors by their faces, and not just by the back of their cars in a drive-thru. I value seeing someone take an idea and see it through to completion, even if it means slow days, running out of product or having to go on hiatus when the cold weather causes the pipes to freeze.
Perhaps I’m crazy, but these things are more important to me than an obscure law that requires trucks to move every 24 hours or banishes the convenience of tables and chairs from a parking lot. You know what happens around good food? Community. A novel concept.
I’ve made an “occupy” reference once, and I’ll do it again. I hope that more food trucks — the ones that cater to the discriminating tastes of my hippie farmer’s-market-going neighbors — will continue to occupy the streets of Clintonville.
Meanwhile, I’ll plan on occupying a space in line at The Coop, as long as the weather allows it to stay open.
2701 Indianola Avenue
Hours available via Facebook.