Zoup is on Downtown

By Denise Trowbridge | 11 Jan, 2012

Folks Downtown have yet another quick way to warm up on frosty winter days. Zoup! Fresh Soup Company, a restaurant specializing in gourmet soups, has opened at 41 S. High St. in the Huntington Center.

The Michigan-based chain is known for its dozens of varieties of soups, as well as salads and sandwiches. This is the first Zoup in central Ohio, although there are six others in Ohio, and about 40 nationwide.

“We look forward to being one of the only soup-focused restaurants in the area providing local appetites with fast, healthy meal options for lunch and dinner,” said Denis Barboza, who owns the Columbus Zoup with his wife, Poonam.

Zoup is known for its ever-changing lineup of soups. The company makes about 100 varieties, with 12 available each day. Recent soups include Santa Fe chicken chili with jalapenos, white beans, green chilies and cilantro; creamy ginger butternut squash; lobster bisque; and lentil with sweet onions and barley. Tomato soup with spinach, vegetables and brown rice is also on the menu, as are shrimp and crawfish etouffee, spicy Italian vegetable, and seven-bean soup. Daily selections always include options for those with dietary restrictions, such as gluten-free, vegetarian, dairy-free and low-fat soups.

Staples such as turkey clubs, tuna salad and a California-style vegetable sandwich round out the menu, along with salads such as the “American Farm” salad of mixed greens, cucumbers, mozzarella and tomatoes, and the “Loco Burrito” salad with fajita chicken, salsa, guacamole and tortilla strips.

A 16-ounce serving of soup costs $5.95 to $7.75. Salads and sandwiches range from $4.50 for half-servings to $6.75 for a full serving. The try-two meal special is $7.50.
The Barbozas hope the restaurant will appeal to busy Downtown workers looking for a quick and hearty lunch, and that it will do well enough for them to open a second location. They have a lot riding on the soup.

The couple took an unusual route to becoming restaurateurs, having spent most of nearly two decades in information technology. Their son, Shane, 9, was the reason they decided to open a business.

He “is special needs, and we wanted to build something for him, for his future,” Mr. Barboza said. He hopes the restaurant will one day employ Shane and provide for him. “I could just go to work and leave money behind for him, but I wanted him to have something, so he could go out in the world and work and feel good about himself.”

Zoup, with its simple menu, seemed like an ideal fit. And Shane really likes the food. “He is a very picky eater,” his father said. “Normally, he only eats home-cooked food. But when we took him to Zoup (in northern Ohio), he loved it. He ate everything.”

The new restaurant employs about 17 full- and part-time employees and is open Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.