Extra ketchup and salt, please. The fry’s versatility is typically lost in the traditional presentation of French fries, tater tots and sweet potato fries. Daniel McCarthy saw an opportunity to expand the potato-ketchup-salt partnership to incorporate a range of flavors and toppings drawn from world cuisines.
After 10 years of success as a food truck operator, McCarthy was finally able to fulfill his dream of opening his own brick-and-mortar restaurant, Tatoheads Public House, in July 2014. The truck and restaurant have a symbiotic relationship, working together to expand the others’ capacity. The truck’s menu has benefitted from a kitchen with greater production capacity and the restaurant has built off the city-wide marketing the food truck has generated. Customers are relieved to know they can purchase their Spicy Meatball Fries or Curry Sweet Potato Fries with Curry Aioli without having to track down the truck.
Opening a restaurant had been McCarthy’s intention when he moved to Columbus from Chicago. Given the barriers he encountered in the process, McCarthy saw food trucks as an accessible entry point to the industry. With a truck, he could build a following and test his product before transitioning to a sit-down restaurant. Both allow him to do what he loves the most about the industry – interact with customers.
Tatoheads Public House is located in Merion Village at 1297 Parsons Ave. All restaurant entrepreneurs know that location is key. The neighborhood’s economic viability is increasing with businesses such as Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Columbus Castings expanding. Residents are encouraged to stay with improvements in access to basic services such as primary healthcare through the John R. Maloney Health Center and information through a new library branch.
McCarthy says the neighborhood reminds him of Short North and Italian Village as those neighborhoods started to turn around. He is so confident in the potential of Merion Village that as he was moving into the restaurant, he was also moving his residence to the community as well.
As a small business, McCarthy plans to contribute to the neighborhood’s turnaround just as Tatoheads is dependent on it. He has focused on hiring from within the community. His land contains a community garden, for which his girlfriend, a horticulturalist at Ohio State, has designed a plan to expand access and the growing season through a hoop house. He has also engaged an Ohio State landscape design class to create a patio blueprint for the vacant lot adjacent to the restaurant. McCarthy is going to release the designs for community input, which he will incorporate into his final selection.
Reflecting on rehabilitation efforts in his native Chicago, McCarthy noted that one successful approach was to improve gateways to the city. Commerce improved because people felt safe and drawn to explore. As a major gateway into Columbus from the south, Parsons Avenue has the potential to have a similar ripple effect on the larger South Side community. McCarthy is excited to be a part of that transition.
For more information, visit tatoheads.com.