Interest in a new Irish-themed restaurant is being measured by the number of hand smear marks left by curious passers-by peering in the windows.
Jordy McTaggart’s Grill & Pub is settling in at 310 Washington St., where Scotty’s Burger Joint operated for more than a year and Detour American Grille & Bar followed for a couple of months afterward.
The pub was chosen to fill the biggest restaurant space in The Commons, which has been vacant since March 2013. City leaders picked it over an Arni’s family restaurant.
Jordy’s owners Tim Rohrer and David Baker have invested about $500,000 to renovate the restaurant’s 5,510-square-foot pub’s interior, completed over the past three and a half months.
Baker and Rohrer knew renovation would be expensive, but they also wanted to make sure the Irish-style pub felt authentic.
It is not their first go-round in such ventures. The pair also own and operate other restaurants, including the Montana Mike’s near the Edinburgh Premium Outlets mall.
With their hands not tied to operational mandates from a corporate chain, the owners could design the interior of the local pub as they wished.
To make sure they got it right, Rohrer said he traveled across the country studying Irish pubs, taking notes about best practices and creative ideas while also sampling different meals and brews.
“We talked about just trying to make it look like a big open space and trying to break up areas for a cozy environment,” Baker said. “We added the antique doors, the stained glass, the wooden panels — that was a big thing that we wanted — and then the brick and the wood.”
The pub invited guests Wednesday through Friday of last week for a “soft-opening,” commonly used by restaurants to prepare the wait staff and kitchen crew for a public grand opening.
Rohrer and Baker said that went well.
“Everybody’s excited about it. They know we just put this together,” Baker said. “Everybody that walked in (Wednesday) night were really astonished with what we put together.”
On the job training
Some of the 100 employees hired to work at the restaurant got a sample of what business would be like starting with Tuesday’s opening.
The pub will have 24 beers on tap, and a lunch and dinner menu. It will offer entertainment such as watching sports on any of 13 large-screen televisions and hearing music groups perform on built-in performance space in the restaurant.
Rohrer and Baker had a Klipsch sound system designed and calibrated specifically so sound levels could be adjusted throughout the restaurant.
Jordy McTaggart’s also has outdoor seating much like its Commons neighbor, Puccini’s Smiling Teeth restaurant.
Mike Dell, who co-owns the Dell Brothers Inc. clothing store in the next block at 416 Washington St., said it will be nice to have new neighbors.
“It’s something that’s not down here, an Irish-England pub kind of concept,” he said. “The more options the better. And it’s good for the city because they have a tenant in a space that’s been empty for a while.”
Experience favored Dell said it’s also comforting to know that Rohrer and Baker have experience opening and running restaurants, so he’s confident their new pub will be an asset to Columbus.
“It’s a good thing to get people downtown, get them by the front door and get them to realize that you’re down here,” he said.
Dell said as Columbus-based Cummins Inc. began to hire more employees to work in downtown offices, the need for food options downtown increased.
Three restaurants have opened downtown in the past year: Sogno della Terra coffee shop, Yats Cajun Creole Restaurant and Taku Japanese Steak House.
Henry’s Social Club, a farm-to-table restaurant that has received a liquor license, is scheduled to open this summer at 423 Washington St.
Dancing Goat Coffee has asked the Columbus Redevelopment Commission to rent the former Snappy Tomato Pizza spot in The Commons.
Jeff Baker, owner of Baker’s Fine Gifts & Accessories at 433 Washington St., said any additional business in downtown Columbus is a benefit to all businesses in the area.
“It will produce additional weekend opportunities, which we don’t have,” he said.