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Commons history 2004

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Editor's Note: As part of a commemorative section on the grand reopening of The Commons, we compiled clips from some of the most important stories about The Commons in our electronic library. Here are some of the highlights from 2004.

January 11, 2004

Cinema owner opens ice cream shop at Commons Mall

Key Cinemas owner Ron Keedy has opened a premium ice cream store at the Commons Mall in the location of the former Jersey Rock Creamery.

Chaos Frozen Custard's creations include soft-serve ice cream, sundaes, milk shakes and beverages such as coffee, tea and water.

The Chaos sundae contains a little bit of everything, Keedy said. "No two (Chaos) sundaes will ever be alike."

Keedy's specialties include a S'mores sundae and chocolate nachos, consisting of vanilla ice cream with hot fudge and nachos for dipping. Keedy said the salty nachos go well with the sweet ice cream and have been popular at his Indianapolis location.

Sundaes and shakes cost between $1.75 and $2.90, chocolate and regular nachos sell for $2, and cones and cups of ice cream go for up to $1.90.

Keedy, who owned an ice cream machine and worked for 12 years in ice cream stores when he was younger, thought the business would be a good fit.

"I've always liked the ice cream business," Keedy said.

He plans to soon also sell hand-dipped ice cream.

March 22, 2004

Columbus among 10 most playful towns

Columbus has been named one of the 10 most playful towns in America by a parenting magazine.

Nick Jr. Family Magazine's April issue, which hits newsstands Tuesday, also declared that Columbus is a great place to live for families with young children.

Editor-in-Chief Freddi Greenberg said the magazine was impressed with The Commons, Zaharakos Confectionery, Irwin Gardens, the Ethnic Expo and the city parks system and architecture, all of which are mentioned in the magazine.

Columbus "is a little jewel, really," she said in an interview.

June 12, 2004

Commons playground input sought

Columbus Parks and Recreation Department will kick off a weeklong series of feedback sessions Monday soliciting ideas from the community about the planned renovation of The Commons indoor playground.

The forums are an effort to get the community to support renovation of the city-owned downtown playground.

"We want to reach as broad an audience as possible," said Parks Department's Mike Keogh. "After all, this is a property owned and managed by the city of Columbus, and we want to make sure everybody has a chance to voice their opinions."

Several sessions are planned for the public, but many of the daytime gatherings are keyed to specific audiences such as senior citizens, school-age families and preschool populations.

"We are making a special effort to encourage families of children with physical challenges to voice their opinions," Keogh said. "It's obvious that children with physical challenges are basically shut out of the current playground, and we want to get their ideas on what could appeal to them in a new plan."

A session specially designed to address the needs of the physically challenged and their families will be held in the playground area from 3:45 to 4:45 p.m. Wednesday, but all sessions for the public are open to this and any group.

June 19, 2004

Independent art theater shuts doors: Roly Poly owner takes control of custard shop, changes hours

Key Cinemas in The Commons Mall is closed, and Chaos Frozen Custard has changed hands.

The Commons Mall is in discussions with two regional theater owners who have professed an interest in expanding to Columbus, said Sharon Renfro, who owns the mall with her husband, Herman.

Since November, Key Cinemas has shown mostly independent films and documentaries and in April hosted a festival for young local filmmakers.

Key Cinemas owner Ron Keedy, who also owned the ice cream shop, could not be reached.

Renfro said Keedy, who also runs Key Cinemas in Indianapolis, did not have enough time to focus on marketing the Columbus theater.

As a result, attendance was not high enough to sustain the operation, Renfro said.

The two individuals with whom Renfro Development is in discussions already own theaters that show some independent films and have hosted children's film festivals, Renfro said.

When the theater will re-open remains unclear.

"We're hoping very quickly," Renfro said.

September 1, 2004

Art museum becomes independent: Columbus gallery to maintain working relationship with IMA

The Indianapolis Museum of Art-Columbus gallery will become the independent Columbus Museum of Art and Design Oct. 1.

The satellite museum on The Commons mezzanine will break its formal, 30-year link with the Indianapolis Museum of Art. But it still will maintain a working relationship with the metro facility.

Lynn Brown, president of the local museum's board, said the change will allow the Columbus gallery more options to better serve its supporters.

The free-admission local facility attracts about 10,000 people per year. In late 1999, it attracted nearly that many people for a single exhibit: glass artist Dale Chihuly's work.

"We desired to reach a larger audience and needed flexibility that our joint venture agreement with the IMA did not allow," said Brown.

Changes at the IMA also partly triggered the change, according to Brown.

September 11, 2004

LCNFC to reopen Commons art house: Entertainment vet to run Yes Cinemas, which replaces Key

A local nonprofit plans to reopen the former Key Cinemas in The Commons Mall and turn it into a community destination for independent films, corporate presentations and live theater.

The Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center hopes to show its first film in Yes Cinema between Thanksgiving and Christmas, said Matt Callaway, a Columbus native and entertainment industry veteran who will manage the operation.

Callaway plans to show independent and family-oriented films.

"We want to stay true to the people who loved it as an independent theater," he said.

However, the center also wants to broaden the theater's target audience, involve the Columbus Area Arts Council in special events and open the venue to happenings ranging from political forums to private parties and live comedy, said LCNFC Director Randy Allman.

Commons Mall co-owner Sharon Renfro said the theater would facilitate marketing the mall to other potential tenants, particularly larger retailers.

"When we deal with retailers …, the big concern is that there is not nearly enough traffic on the weekend and in the evenings," Renfro said.

October 27, 2004

New eatery coming to Commons

A new restaurant, called Bistro 310, is scheduled to open the week of Thanksgiving in The Commons Mall.

The proprietors said the restaurant represents a dream come true, while the mall's owners hope the bistro will help make the property more attractive for current and prospective retail tenants.

Bistro 310's menu will offer innovative American cuisine with inspiration from classic French bistro dishes, said Jeff Maiani, who co-owns the eatery with his wife, Robin.

Dishes will include standard fare, such as steaks and seafood; more daring concoctions, such as chicken braised in red wine served with creamy grits and aged cheddar; and desserts, including warm fudge cake with port wine caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream.

The Maianis, who owned a gourmet catering business in San Jose, Calif., moved to Columbus about a year ago to be near family.

Jeff trained at Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and worked in kitchens in France, New York, California and most recently at Divino's in Columbus. Robin brings an expertise in marketing and staffing.

December 15, 2004

Cinema hopes public will say ‘yes' to movies

Yes Cinema in The Commons Mall is scheduled to open Dec. 22 with the Bing Crosby classic "White Christmas" and the modern Ernesto "Che" Guevara film "The Motorcycle Diaries."

"It's been a long road, and we're all very excited," said Matt Callaway, a Columbus native and entertainment industry veteran who manages the operation.

The theater, which is part of the nonprofit Lincoln-Central Neighborhood Family Center, will charge $5 for matinees and $7 for evening shows. Students always will pay $5.

LCNFC plans to turn the cinema into a community destination for independent and family-oriented films, corporate presentations and live theater.

Callaway said a group from Four Seasons Retirement Center is scheduled to view "White Christmas" on Dec. 23.

Callaway said he also plans to show films geared toward specific community groups.

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