Commons restaurants reshaped dining landscape

Securing restaurants to locate in The Commons since 2011 has been a game-changer for downtown.

Operators of a few competing restaurants located elsewhere downtown said money the city of Columbus provided for build-outs of Commons eateries provided an unfair advantage to ones operating at 300 Washington St.

Fork at 532, a locally owned restaurant at 532 Washington St., closed in 2013, when owner Doug Van Epps said his revenues were cut in half in 2010 by the economic crisis and an unfair playing field created by subsidies city officials pumped into new restaurants in the Fourth Street parking garage and the new Commons mall.

But Commons restaurants themselves have struggled as well.

Here’s a recap of how the city has invested in The Commons restaurants and who has moved in, and out of, the space since 2011.

April 2011 — Columbus Downtown Inc. selects Scott Wise, owner of the Scotty’s restaurant chain, as one of the first announced tenants of the new Commons.

June 2011 — Columbus Redevelopment Commission approves spending $633,000 to prepare the retail spaces in The Commons. Puccini’s restaurant, serving pizza and other Italian dishes, announces it will locate in a corner space in The Commons.

November 2011 — Scotty’s Burger Joint opens, managed by A Pots & Pans Production. Subway and Snappy Tomato Pizza sign leases to locate in The Commons. The restaurants join Hubbard & Cravens Coffee and Tea Co., which recently opened.

July 2012 — Snappy Tomato Pizza opens.

December 2012 — MSCB Group ends its relationship with A Pots & Pans to operate Scotty’s and announces the space will convert to Detour American Grille & Bar.

January 2013: Greenhouse Restaurant LLC opens Detour, with legal action ensuing on the lease. About three weeks after the restaurant held a grand-opening event, Detour closed and moved out the night of March 18, 2013.

November 2013: Jordy McTaggart’s Grill & Pub is awarded a lease by the redevelopment commission for the Scotty’s space and signs a 10-year agreement in December 2013.

December 2013 — City officials determine Snappy Tomato Pizza failed to pay rent in 2013 and owes $27,237 in back rent, late fees and utility payments.

January 2015: The city terminates the Snappy Tomato Pizza lease, accepting an $18,500 settlement in January. Meanwhile, Jordy’s Inc., the company that owns Jordy McTaggart’s Grill & Pub, is purchased by Mark and Richard Wilcox, Columbus.

March 2015 — Columbus’s first Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt announces it is seeking the quick-service food space at The Commons and opens in May.

June 2016 — The city learns that Jordy McTaggart’s was behind $21,000 in back rent, utilities, property taxes and late fees.

Jan. 29, 2017— Jordy McTaggart’s Grill & Pub, which owes the city about $15,300 in back rent, property taxes and utilities, closes.

May 2017 — Alberto and Sarah Bravo, Indianapolis, receive approval from the Columbus Redevelopment Commission to take over the Jordy’s lease. The couple plans to open their third Luciana’s Mexican Restaurant and Cantina inside The Commons after investing $250,000 to $300,000 to renovate the facility and add new equipment, they said. The Bravos, who are not seeking any financial support from the city for the project, will take over the remaining seven years on the Jordy McTaggart lease.

August 2017 — Alberto and Sarah Bravo announce the September opening of Luciana’s.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.