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Restaurants line up for Scotty’s spot

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Columbus officials will look for a family-oriented restaurant with a bar for the space in The Commons that held the former Scotty’s Burger Joint.

Several local restaurants already have expressed interest, Mayor Kristen Brown told The Commons Board on Wednesday.

“We have had half a dozen successful local business owners reach out on their own with an interest in the space,” Brown said.

The city is in a dispute with the current tenants of the space, who operated a Scotty’s Burger Joint in The Commons for about 13 months.

If you go

What: Columbus Redevelopment Commission

When: 6 p.m. today

Where: City Council chambers at City Hall, 123 Washington St.

Agenda: Vote on whether to present the leaseholders of the former Scotty’s Burger Joint space in The Commons with a letter declaring them in breach of their lease.

The leaseholder, Greenhouse Restaurant, is owned by MSCB Group.

In December, MSCB terminated its relationship with the Scotty’s management company.

However, the lease with the city for the space in The Commons specifically calls for a Scotty’s franchise.

The city contends that the breached lease triggers a process leading to a request for proposals for the space in The Commons.

However, the company announced plans to reopen Monday as a Detour American Grille, despite the city’s actions.

On Wednesday, the mayor asked The Commons Board to come up with a set of criteria for how to best use the space.

Those criteria then will be made part of a request for proposals put together by the Columbus Redevelopment Commission.

The board agreed to five criteria, summarized by Commons Board President Sherry Stark. The board  recommended a request for a business that would:

  • Generate public activity on the sidewalks in front of The Commons.
  • Include guidelines based on lessons learned with the current tenants.
  • Make for a positive transition.
  • Contribute to a unique niche in the community and not duplicate an existing business.
  • Likely be a family-oriented restaurant with a bar.

Board member Tracy Souza said she thought the city should take care not to bring in something that directly competes with existing restaurants.

Board member Paige Harden said she thought there was a fine line between a bar and a restaurant. She said she would prefer a concept that would be comfortable for families with children.

Brown and board member Ryan Brand, newly chosen president of Columbus City Council, disagreed about the type of restaurant that should be sought for the space. Brown said she was interested in a restaurant that was local to Columbus. Instead, Brand said they should seek a more well-known name that would be a regional draw.

Brown told the board a half-dozen local restaurants had contacted her, saying they were interested in the space. She said she began contacting the restaurants Wednesday morning to see if they agreed to being mentioned in a public meeting. The only one she had been able to contact on short notice, and get permission, was Power House Brewing Co., which operates Columbus Bar on Fourth Street.

Brown said she was told if chosen, Power House would continue to operate its Fourth Street bar but also operate a restaurant in The Commons with a slightly different concept.

She said another incentive to keeping the space a restaurant was the money already spent on the space.

“We have tax dollars, $386,000, into the tenant buildout for that space. There is a significant taxpayer investment for it to be a restaurant with a bar,” Brown said.

Steve Risting, The Commons architect with CSO Architects in Indianapolis, said the space was designed for retail use. In the past, The Commons Board had considered several alternative uses for the space before settling on a restaurant, including a store or an art gallery. However, Risting said it has been the board’s strong desire to have the space be used as a restaurant.

At 6 p.m. today, Columbus Redevelopment Commission will consider whether to declare Greenhouse Restaurant in breach of its lease, which — according to Brown — would give the company 15 days to fix the problem, which would be a return to operating as a Scotty’s franchise. Scott Wise, who heads the Scotty’s chain of restaurants, said that was unlikely to happen.

Meanwhile, 70 Scotty’s employees and their families plan to attend the Columbus Redevelopment Commission meeting, voicing support for a Detour American Grille restaurant to operate in the space where Scotty’s was located through Dec. 31. According to a press release on behalf of MSCB co-owner Mark Maddox, the employees plan to plead with Mayor Kristen Brown to allow them to keep their jobs.

“I need this (job) to support my children and pay my bills. Without it, my family could lose our home,” Sommer Hilderbrand, an employee at the Columbus Detour, said in the press release. “We are asking the city to allow this restaurant to reopen next week.”

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