Q | What is the most popular item on your menu? Why?
A | Brunch! We have a really fun weekend brunch crowd and our Bloody Marys are super tasty. One of the most popular items is the Surly Girl Pizza. The Frito Pies are popular too; vegetarians love that they can get them with veggie chili. Our Chef Lara Ranallo has been with us for several years now and does a great job with coming up with new cupcake flavors and daily specials, she’s largely responsible for what ends up being popular here!
Q | Are there any items NOT on your menu that are staff favorites (that you’d be willing to serve up to any customer who asked)?
A | Usually staff favorites become specials and the successful ones eventually become menu items. This is the beauty of our independent business model, we can be nimble and update menus fairly often. A good example is the Mean & Green Grilled Cheese, it was something staff enjoyed eating and we began to run it as a lunch special. It was so popular, we added it to the menu. If you work in a restaurant every day, you get tired of the same old, same old and with a chef as talented as Lara, we are constantly tweaking old favorites or creating something entirely new. We also have a fairly large menu and therefore, a lot of ingredients to work with so that helps too!
Q | Surly Girl cooks up “heaping helpings of comfort food made with love,” as the website states. Who comes up with the awesome menu items? Are you personally responsible for any of the fine creations?
A | Our first menu was written by me and co-owner Carmen Owens, from there it has steadily evolved through the years. Lara has taken the menu to it’s next level. Lara and Carmen work together to come up with new menus about twice a year based on seasonality and popularity of specials we have run in the past. Then they tweak the existing menu throughout the year too as well as offer daily specials and scratch-made soups. Our current menu has many of the same menu items we opened with, Lara just developed recipes to make them even better. Carmen maintains a heavy hand in all menu updates as well.
Q | What makes Surly Girl unique from your other fabulous restaurants?
A | Surly Girl opened right when the Short North gentrification began to escalate at a very rapid rate. Surly Girl was a backlash to what we perceived as some of the over-gentrification happening around us. We develop restaurant concepts based entirely on the location, the neighborhood, and history of the space and so no two spaces will have the same vibe. Surly Girl opened in what was once known as the Garden District, a red light district. We went for the bordello type theme as a nod to that history.
Q | Is Surly Girl named after someone? What’s the story? Why is she so surly?!
A | Carmen Owens and I are long time friends, co-workers, co-conspirators, and later co-owners of Surly Girl Saloon (with our rock star idol Marcy Mays). Carmen and I are like sisters. I met her because a hundred years ago she dated my brother in high school, so we go way back. We both cut our teeth as feminists, activists, heavy drinkers, trouble makers and overall hellions in the late ’90s and early 2000s, the years when George Bush was president and women’s rights seemed to be deteriorating (we had no idea it would only get worse). We always referred to ourselves as surly or malcontents. Surly had a better ring to it. We dubbed the Surly Girl as Betty’s rebellious stepsister, and she was.
Liz owns many of the great restaurants in the Short North and Downtown areas of Columbus. Check out all of them!