New downtown restaurant set to open in spring

Downtown eatery will offer customizable vegetarian, gluten-free menu

A new restaurant for downtown Columbus will offer healthy alternatives with a focus on vegetarian and gluten-free menu items.

Fresh Take Kitchen plans to open by April 1 at 424 Washington St. in the former Soups by Design location, said Steve Leach, owner of the Garage Pub & Grill. He is partnering with Kurt Schwarze, co-owner of Fourth Street Bar & Grill, on the new restaurant.

Leach and Schwarze have worked together in the past on downtown festivals such as the BBQ Blues & Brew event in June and the Mill Race Marathon After Party in September.

Fresh Take is described as “fast casual,” Leach said, designed to be different from other downtown dining options.

“The overall concept is hearty homemade foods,” Leach said.

And the menu will be focused on healthy eating.

Customers can expect menu items including salads that can be custom-designed with the option of adding protein such as chicken, pork or tofu to their orders. In addition, grain bowls, falafels and organic drinks will be available.

“You have the ability to customize as little or as much as you want,” Schwarze said.

The restaurant will be geared toward people who want a plant-based diet, he said.

“We’ll probably be one of the most vegetarian-friendly restaurants in the area,” Leach said.

Menu items will be priced from $6 to $11.

Renovations inside the 1,500-square-foot restaurant are set to begin next month to create seating for 40 to 50 customers. Outdoor seating is also planned, and Ivy Tech Community College design students have been commissioned to create a mural to highlight the restaurant’s diverse menu options.

Customers will also have the option of ordering online and then having meals ready by the time they pick it up, Leach said.

Fresh Take Kitchen plans to take an environmentally friendly approach as it plans to use materials that can be recycled, he said. For example, Leach said customers will be able to recycle their take-out containers, while the restaurant also plans to recycle its produce boxes as well.

A kiosk featuring facial-recognition technology is planned inside the restaurant. The technology, which involves using biometrics of someone’s face, will allow the kiosk to identify any previous orders that have been placed by a customer, in case the customer wants that order duplicated.

Among the target audiences for the new restaurant are Columbus East and Columbus North high school students expected to take advantage of ordering online and having their food ready for pickup on arrival, Schwarze said.

Schwarze’s son, Tucker, a sophomore at Columbus East, is helping design the restaurant layout.

Beer and wine will also be available at the restaurant, which will feature craft beer from a regional brewery each quarter. Fresh Take Kitchen will be partnering with Taxman Brewing Co., based in Bargersville, for its initial round of craft beer offerings when the business opens in the spring, Schwarze said.

Taxman Brewing was founded by Leah Huelsebusch and her husband, Nathan, a former international tax director for Columbus-based Cummins Inc.

“We’re really excited to bring something new and different downtown,” Leach said.

About the project

Fresh Take Kitchen, which plans to open at 424 Washington St., will offer vegetarian and gluten-free menu items, including grain bowls and salads that can be customized.

Interior renovations inside the space are set to begin in mid-February with a targeted opening date of April 1.

Author photo
Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or