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J Hot Fish Makes a Comeback, Moves to Linden

Lauren Sega Lauren Sega J Hot Fish Makes a Comeback, Moves to LindenPhoto via J Hot Fish Facebook page.
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Following a hiatus after outgrowing their popup location in Olde Towne East, J Hot Fish is opening a new store in Linden on Cleveland Avenue. The popular fish joint will make a few minor adjustments, but owner Keith “KC” Edwards said it’ll do what it’s always done: bring people from all places and backgrounds into one place for some fried fish.

J Hot Fish first appeared at the Columbus Food Hub in the spring of 2015. It wasn’t long before they attracted an intense following of fish lovers and decided the space was no longer suited for their growing business model. They closed up in late 2016 and immediately started the process of looking for a permanent location. When Edwards found the building at 1393 Cleveland Ave., it turned out to be the perfect fit in more ways than one.

Keith “KC” Edwards in front of J Hot Fish’s new Linden location.

“The location stuck out,” Edwards said. “They’re doing a lot of renovation up Cleveland Avenue. It gave us access to being off 71, it’s closer to Ohio State, and it was a location that was ideal for our customers. They wouldn’t have too far to navigate from Olde Towne East to Linden. The building has been empty for four years, and all the equipment was already in there, so it really made an ideal transition for us.”

An opening is nearing as Edwards awaits final inspections. While most of what his devoted customers will find will be the same J Hot Fish they remember having in Olde Towne East, Edwards is planning a few changes as well. For a few months he’ll keep the familiar menu, but will eventually introduce new menu items, including po’ boys, shrimp gumbo, étouffée, and house made hush puppies.

Edwards talked about breakfast as well. After examining the market, he’ll consider adding a morning menu of hash browns, eggs, shrimp and grits, and waffles.

The old J Hot Fish had a pick-up window, resulting in mostly to-go orders. That might shift to in-house orders — the new spot lacks a window and seats 30 people.

To help manage it all, Edwards will hire three employees to start, and he’s looking for community partners that connect restored citizens with opportunities in the workforce.

He describes the goal as “just being able to follow through with our vision for our organization, and be able to give people second chances for employment, and also be able to break the cycle that they’re in.”

“We’re going to be able to hit the ground running in terms of embracing their culture there, and it’s also going to bring a little bit more diversity to the community as well with our customer base,” Edwards added. “We have a lot of people that come from the suburbs that would be coming to Linden that normally wouldn’t be coming to Linden for any other reason. The same feel that we had at Olde Towne East — where it was very multicultural and eclectic — that’s the same that we expect at our location here in Linden.”

J Hot Fish has a tentative grand opening planned within the next two weeks, following a series of private soft openings for friends and family. Once open, they’ll operate Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday, 12 to 6 p.m.

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