Diners in the new Jordy McTaggart’s Pub and Grill proposed for The Commons will find a renovated space, a unique menu and the only restaurant of its kind, developers of the restaurant believe.
It is a plan they have been developing for about three years.
When an opportunity to launch the pub at another location fell through, they put the idea on the shelf until they found the right location.
Tim Rohrer and David Baker are betting that location will be 310 Washington St. in downtown Columbus.
The pair have been in business together for nine years, owning and operating Montana Mike’s Steakhouse franchises in Edinburgh, Greenfield and Anderson. But they stress that theirs is a Columbus-based business.
“This is perfect to put something like this downtown,” Rohrer said. “Even though David is from Shelby County and I am in Brown County, really Columbus is home base.”
With more than 40 years in the restaurant business between them, they believe their restaurant management success and understanding of the local market will allow them to succeed where the previous tenants, Scotty’s Burger Joint and Detour American Grille and Bar, did not.
They said they will stress the importance of fast and reasonably priced lunch offerings and good customer service.
Rohrer and Baker have long individual histories with steakhouse buffet chains, but the Jordy McTaggart’s concept was cooked up on their own.
“This is going to be a one-of-a-kind place; we have no intention of duplication,” Rohrer said.
At the time the new Commons was being built, they were busy launching their Anderson restaurant and did not consider trying to get into the new downtown Columbus location.
But when The Commons space became available this spring, they were ready to pounce. From their offices at Seventh and Washington streets, they have admired the downtown changes, Rohrer said.
“They have made it a vibrant downtown, and you don’t see that in the Midwest in cities of 40,000 people,” Rohrer said. “I have operated in other markets that don’t have anything like this going on.”
Rohrer and Baker plan to have a well-lit restaurant with cherry furniture, heavy wood finishings and brick.
In the front windows overlooking Washington Street will be a long community table where people will be able to mingle and meet with other random diners. Although there will be televisions for bar and restaurant viewing, they will not be as omnipresent as those in a sports bar.
“We are not going to be a pub or bar that happens to serve food,” Rohrer said. “We are going to be a restaurant that has a bar in it.”
They believe in doing all the cooking from scratch and will not just be reheating pre-packaged meals, Rohrer said. They have a mock menu prepared and are finalizing recipes through a state-of-the-art test kitchen operated by their restaurant distributor, U.S. Foods.
The menu was described as mid- to upscale with affordable and quick lunch offerings in the $7 to $8 range. The duo is looking at items such as Monte Cristo and Reuben sandwiches, specialty burgers and ahi tuna and Cobb salads. And they will make those lunches ready quickly.
“We know that that hour of lunch is valuable to people and people get turned off very quickly when they come in and can’t get back to their office in an hour,” Baker said. “Foremost, we are going to have a great lunch, affordable menu items and get people in and out in a timely manner.”
A low-price children’s menu is also planned.
The adult dinner menu will range from burgers and other entrees at less than $10 to higher-end offerings in the $15 to $20 range.
Despite their steakhouse backgrounds, they plan to include only two steaks — a ribeye and a filet — and an ahi tuna steak. Baker said he is still working to find the trademark sandwich buns he wants to use, and Rohrer has some specific ideas in mind for french fries, which he believes will be the best in town.
“That is high on my priority list,” Rohrer said.
They are also working to create a line of Irish/British-themed entrees that will have an Americanized twist.
“If it is bangers and mash, or shepherd’s pie or corned beef and cabbage, we want them to enjoy the meal,” Baker said. “A lot of people, if they went to Ireland and ate the food, they would not enjoy it, and the thing is that we want people to come back.”
He said they don’t want to become a niche restaurant that people visit only when friends are in from out of town or on limited, special occasions.
The pub will have 20 or more beers on tap, including lower-cost and standard American offerings, mid-priced regional beers, and high-end British and Irish ales and porters.