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New eatery coming to downtown complex

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A Cajun/Creole restaurant is scheduled to open in downtown Columbus as early as May.

Yats — with its motto “Cajun. Creole. Crazy.” — will occupy the second restaurant space in the new Cummins office complex on Fourth Street, across from Columbus Bar.

Yats will offer Louisiana dishes, typically involving rice and flavorful sauces. One of its most popular dishes is the chili cheese étouffée with crawfish. The Yats menu, portions of which change daily, also includes jambalaya, chicken creole and vegetarian and vegan options, such as spinach mushroom etouffee. Dishes run $6.25 and $7.25.

Yats will target primarily the lunch crowd but will also serve beer and wine to help attract a dinner crowd, said owner/operators Charlie Kays, who began working at Yats in Indianapolis 4½ years ago while he was studying finance at IUPUI.

Customers select from a chalkboard menu and order at a counter. The eatery has no table service. The 1,724 square feet will accommodate about 70 seats, Kays said.

The restaurant will employ six to 10, including at least four full time, Kays said.

Kays, a Columbus native, will see some familiar faces at the restaurant: His wife, Laura, and his mother, Liz, both will work there full time. Laura currently works at the Columbus Bar. The couple have a 2-year-old son, Arthur.

Charlie’s mom, Liz, said she has worked in several local restaurants over the years.

“It’s exciting for us to work together,” she said.

Charlie Kays began at Yats by running the cash register, working in the kitchen and busing tables. When Yats owners Joe and Gina Vuskovich started selling franchises two years ago, Kays’ family inquired.

Cummins chose Yats from four fast-food restaurants, in part because of its regional appeal and because it will offer different cuisine from other downtown restaurants, said Catina Furnish, who handles real estate for the company in the Americas. She said many of the company’s Indianapolis employees also said that they’ve enjoyed the Yats restaurants in the state’s capital.

The parties declined to disclose details about the lease, but Furnish said that the initial five-year lease can be extended for two additional five-year terms. She said Cummins will provide an allowance to help the owner turn the empty space into a Yats.

Charlie Kays said that the company estimates that opening a Yats costs between $60,000 and $122,000.

He said he plans to open the restaurant weekdays at 11 a.m., closing at 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, and 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Kays said he initially will open the restaurant Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. to gauge customer interest on the weekend.

The Cummins office’s second eatery, a Japanese steakhouse and sushi restaurant, is expected to open by June.

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