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Northstar Cafe’s Westerville Location Now Open

Lauren Sega Lauren Sega Northstar Cafe’s Westerville Location Now OpenAll photos by Walker Evans.
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Northstar has opened in Westerville, making it the fifth location for the Short North original. The new spot, in the uptown area at 109 S. State Street, aims to be a reflection of the neighborhood’s history.

Plans for the new location started back in 2014, when Northstar first acquired the site from the city. It originally contained the Kyoto Tea House and Shinto Shrine, which owner Kevin Malhame said inspired various features of the new store’s design. A mosaic, displayed in the former Tea House, is set into the outer wall at the back of the restaurant, and Shou Sugi Ban, a charred wood used in old Japanese temples, was incorporated into the siding.

Other than that, Northstar Westerville looks and functions identically to their other four locations. They’ll offer their menu of sandwiches, burritos, pizzas, salads and bowls, as well as their selection of beer, wine and cocktails. A special variance was required for their liquor license, one of several in what used to be a dry town.

Westerville, what was once referred to as the “Dry Capital of the World,” according to Ohio History Central, is home to the Anti-Saloon League Museum, which sits across from Northstar’s newest location. The building gained popularity in 2011, after Ken Burns’ documentary Prohibition focused on the site’s role in the era without alcohol.

“It’s especially entertaining, I think, to have a cocktail across the street from a building that helped to sort of create prohibition,” Malhame said.

Malhame isn’t a fan of grand openings. Northstar opened quietly for friends and family at first, giving the new team time to practice. Roughly three weeks ago they opened to the public. “Not a growth-hungry organization,” Northstar’s next location is unknown, but Malhame said another one will “probably” follow this Westerville location.

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