Wheels and Motor to Brick and Mortar
An Interview with Daniel McCarthy

The sun was shining and Parsons Avenue was alive with people who were biking, walking, and traveling throughout their day. I made my way to Tatoheads Public House, just south of German Village, where I met owner Daniel McCarthy to talk about his business and the neighborhood. When I walked in the lights were low, staff was preparing food in the kitchen, and Daniel was tucked away in a corner booth doubling as a workplace, clearly busy preparing for another week of serving the South Side locals and everyone else who will come to get their hands on his much talked about menu. I quickly noticed the wall art and the expansive draft beer list spanning from the floor to the ceiling. Although they weren’t yet open, and the restaurant was empty, there was energy in the air which I credit to the eclectic style and feeling of community built within the walls that is similar to that which makes the South Side the unique part of Columbus that it is. Daniel and his girlfriend, Allison Davis, also call the South Side home. Daniel believes that the area has a big future and is happy to work and live there, which most likely explains how the road he traveled in his wildly popular food truck Tatoheads lead him to his brick and mortar on Parson’s Avenue today. To learn more about Tatoheads Public House, Tatoheads the food truck, and Daniel’s perspective on living and working in the South Side, check out his interview below.


Where are you from?

I’m from Chicago, Illinois

What brought you to Columbus?

My lady, Alli (showing me a picture of her); after all these years, she’s still with me.

Where do you guys live?

Right here in the South Side.

How did you get into the Columbus food industry?

I came here looking for a restaurant. I shopped around quite a bit; I wasn’t finding what I liked at the price range that I wanted. I saw Mikey’s Late Night Slice (food truck) roaming around; I didn’t see any other trucks and I thought that would be a good way to get my feet wet in the city.
 

What was it that made the truck so well known?

Early on, being a boot-strapper, I went out a lot…sometimes I had 32 to 36 hour days straight. It was a lot of work, but it was a great way to get out there. We got in the paper pretty quickly…that was a big boost. Developing rapport with people and building relationships…that’s how it all started.

Did you teach yourself to cook?

Yes, I’m a home chef.

Has it always been a goal to have a brick and mortar?

Yes, it’s always been a goal. Now I’m here.

So you come here, knowing you were ready to open a brick and mortar…how did you choose the South Side?

I was solicited by the previous owner of Hal & Al’s; he really thought we’d be a good fit for the neighborhood.

Do people make the connection between the truck and the restaurant?

Yes, they’re starting to. It’s a step by step, inch by inch kind of thing. I really slow rolled things because there’s a lot of logistics in getting to know your neighbors.

So building relationships is important to you?

Yes, I’ve shown I’m a committed part of the community. I’m interested in growing with the community as well.

I’ve heard about the menu here, what makes it so exciting to people?

The brick and mortar has an expanded menu and other items not found on the truck. Not everything is potato based. It allows us to have some creative expansion. People still love the loaded fries though.

What is a non-potato based dish that is a fan favorite?

Our guacamole balls are unique. We make guacamole and hold it all together with panko…it’s essentially fried guacamole. And of course the burgers are, you know, pretty outstanding. We keep it pretty simple, but the simplicity of it keeps it at a higher quality and doesn’t lose a lot of integrity with being over seasoned; and somewhat unconventional because we’ll take chorizo, which is a Mexican sausage, mix it with ground beef, herbs, and Himalayan salt, and put it on a pretzel bun, which is German…it’s a cross-cultural experience.

Other than food, what can people come here to enjoy?

This is really a place for entertainment, community, and letting some steam off at the end of a day. People can come to have a drink. We offer a lot of really high quality craft beer at a reasonable price. At the end of the day it’s really about the awesome food.

When is happy hour?

4:00 PM to 8:00 PM, everyday; it’s half off all of our craft beers.

What are some of your weekly events?

We do acoustic open mic on Wednesdays, bluegrass on Thursdays, bands on Friday, and karaoke on Saturday. We’re working on filling the other nights as well.

What do people have to look forward to in terms of your businesses?

Well, you know, a lot of people miss the old place…we’re doing everything we can to work within the parameters of what it is we want to do and give the community what they want as well. We have plans to come out with a food program, which will have a daily special every day that we’re open. That will allow people to come here and their budget won’t matter as much. Also, you know, we’re revamping our menu for the truck which will soon be re-launched.

Outside of living and working, what else do you do in the South Side?

One of the things that I’m really doing is really all grass roots; getting involved in the block watches, the civic association, and the South Side area commission, and with local area people who have entrepreneurial interest to create, what I consider a community…a place where I want to live. I find that in this neighborhood, though plenty of challenges exist, there are a lot of opportunities to come from a place of caring and connectivity…I’m trying to bring together a lot of different people that wouldn’t normally come together.

Have you been seeing the influence from the children’s hospital?

They’re making rapid changes. They’re doing a lot of things in terms of building up the neighborhood. It is a mile and a half away and I’m starting to see some of its impact.

What is a hidden gem in the area?

Tatoheads Public House of course...all kidding aside, the Bluegrass Music Shop is a little gem for musicians.

What would you say about crime in general in the area?

The crime that’s occurring in every neighborhood all of the time is no different. Looking at it statistically, it’s not like it’s not happening in the Short North…it’s just less paid attention to. What I find interesting is that so few people, a handful of criminally minded folk, control the perception of thousands. When I look at this neighborhood here, there aren’t that many hurdles to get through, and people have really just empowered the mentality that this is what it is, when in fact it’s really not that hard to overcome. What we really need is a fundamental change in approach and underlying assumptions. This neighborhood is the best kept secret in Columbus…stay tuned.

What do you think people will soon be saying about the future of Parsons Avenue?

My hope is that the conversations are about businesses on Parsons caring about the neighborhood, and caring about the community on the onset of their arrival. I feel like I’ve done that and we need more people like that doing business.

If someone is deciding if they are going to move to the South Side and you’re the last person they get to talk to, what would you tell them?

I moved down here to be a part of the neighborhood, and there are a lot of opportunities here to become part of what I know to be “South Side Pride.” Whatever the challenge, the community rallies around to come together to make a stronger community; and of course, my bar, Public House.


Though it all started with a food truck on the go, Daniel has parked in the South Side, and is serving a lot more than delicious food; he is serving a sense of community that is sure to be a recognizable beam in the foundation of the new South Side. Visit the following link to learn more about Tatoheads Public House, or track down Tatoheads the food truck here. Stop by 1297 Parsons Avenue to visit Daniel, enjoy a bite, and sip a beer. Also, visit Metro-Rentals.com to explore living options in the South Side.

 


 

 

Wheels and Motor to Brick and Mortar,
an Interview with Daniel McCarthy

     “…there are a lot of opportunities here to become part of what I know to be “South Side Pride.” Whatever the challenge, the community rallies around to come together…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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