Haiku Poetic Food & Art Turns 15
There isn’t a real secret to his success. When Paul Liu opened Haiku Poetic Food & Art in 1998, he was simply trying to introduce a novel concept to the Columbus food scene, and he was committed to all the hard work it would take to make that dream a reality. Now, fifteen years later, Haiku still stands as a favorite destination for both the local crowd and the many visitors to our fair city.
The original Haiku restaurant was an intimate spot with muted lighting, a fresh and straightforward sushi menu, and a pleasant, helpful staff. Within a few years, the eatery began to expand with the addition of an indoor sushi bar that allowed diners to watch as skilled sushi craftsmen prepared their meal right in front of their eyes.
Next came the first, and still only, self-contained patio and parking lot combination in town. Haiku’s patio is legendary for the people-watching it facilitates on the busiest street in the city, and in an area like the Short North, their massive parking lot makes it convenient for any and everyone to pay a visit to one of the sushi authorities in Central Ohio.
But what really makes Haiku a special place, and a much-loved gem in the neighborhood, is the people. Paul and his son/General Manager, Justin, are dedicated to creating a true family-like ambiance, and they do so by only hiring full-time staff, both in the kitchen and on the floor, which then assures longevity, consistency, and familiarity.
“[Our employees] are the ones who create a loyal customer base,” Justin shares with me. “They bring in the local people…and even those who now like making the commute from the suburbs of Columbus. They come in for them”.
Haiku’s staff only reflect the passion the Lius pour into their business. When Paul first opened, he was way ahead of the curve, as sushi was not considered the kind of food that a lot of Americans, especially in the Midwest, would really make a part of their permanent diet. But with true passion and diligence, not only is sushi now an integral part of Columbus’ dining landscape, but Haiku an essential operator.
“A lot of it is really the progressiveness of the people of Columbus,” Paul states. ” They really took a hold of it and embraced it…and as long as you keep your passion alive, life has a way of returning the good to you”.
To commemorate their time in business, and to say thank you to the many local and visiting supporters they’ve garnered over the years, Haiku Poetic Food & Art will put out a Haiku book that celebrates the restaurant, customers, and vibrancy of the Short North area of which they are central. The book will include photos of Haiku’s signature dishes and samplings from the hundreds of haikus patrons have written over the years as part of the dining experience.
Copies of the Haiku book can be purchased on site for a yet undetermined price (most likely around $20-$30) beginning Tuesday, June 4th, which is also when the restaurant will officially celebrate its birthday with a big bash. In conjunction with CD 102.5, OYO Spirits, and others, Haiku will open its doors, patio, and parking lot up for a party worthy of fifteen amazing years.
Haiku Poetic Food & Art is located at 800 N. High Street, and are open at 11am daily for lunch and dinner, except Sundays when they open at 4pm for dinner only. For more on this local landmark, visit www.haikushortnorth.com.
Photos by Pam Reece.