City demands overdue payments from Commons pub

Columbus is working to collect more than $20,000 from a downtown restaurant after it fell behind on rent and other payments to the city.

Jordy McTaggart’s Grill & Pub, located in The Commons at 310 Washington St., was notified late last week that it owed a little more than $21,000 in overdue rent payments, utilities, May taxes and late fees, said Heather Pope, city redevelopment director.

Columbus Redevelopment Commission attorney Stan Gamso sent a letter to the restaurant’s attorney last week giving written notice of the payment default and requesting that a plan be developed within 10 days to pay the overdue funds. That plan is currently in the works, Pope said.

In an email to The Republic, restaurant owner Mark Wilcox wrote that the Irish pub recognized that it was past due on its June rent, utilities and spring taxes and was taking steps to repay the debts in a timely manner. Wilcox also wrote that a large portion of the restaurant’s spring property tax bill has already been repaid.

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So far, the grill and pub has repaid a little more than $7,600 and plans to make another large payment Monday, Pope said. She was not sure what the exact amount of Monday’s payment would be.

The restaurant’s lease with the city calls for a rent payment of $60,621 a year — or about $5,000 a month — for the first five years, then an increase to $63,377 annually for the second five years.

The restaurant opened in June of 2014 under the ownership of Tim Rohrer and David Baker, who later sold all their interests in the restaurant to Mark and Richard Wilcox.

Jordy’s leases the space from the city through the redevelopment commission, which is in charge of finding tenants to fill all open rental spaces in The Commons, Pope said.

The city Parks and Recreation Department is responsible for collecting payments from Jordy’s and other tenants of The Commons and depositing those payments into the proper accounts, Pope said.

All other businesses in The Commons, including Orange Leaf, Subway and Puccini’s Pizza, are current on their payments, Pope said. Additionally, the Jackson Street Parking Garage, which is attached to The Commons and is run through the redevelopment commission by a garage management company, is also current on its rent, she said.

Verbal discussions with Jordy’s have been ongoing for the past several months, Pope said, as per the terms of the restaurant’s contract with the city.

However, the lease also calls for a default letter to be sent after a certain amount of time, and the situation has now entered that timeframe, the redevelopment director said.

Gamso’s letter to Jordy’s legal counsel was not an eviction notice, but rather the required formal notice of the payment default, said Mary Ferdon, executive director of administration and community development for the city.

Gamso and a representative from the parks department have met with restaurant representatives in previous months to determine a way to resolve the payment issues, Pope said.

The redevelopment director stressed that the city is working with Jordy’s to help the pub maintain its operations in its current location. However, she said her department and the commission have an obligation to taxpayers to ensure their money is being well-spent, so it is their responsibility to work with all city tenants to make sure they can keep up-to-date on their payments.

“We want to keep our downtown vibrant,” Pope said. “We’re not trying to evict them.”

Wilcox expressed a similar sentiment, writing to The Republic that his business has always enjoyed a positive relationship with the city and hopes to continue that relationship for the long term.

“We are constantly trying to make improvements to the business in terms of what is always in the best interest of Columbus,” Wilcox wrote.

The city has previously dealt with default rental payments in The Commons.

Snappy Tomato Pizza — formerly located in the current Orange Leaf space in The Commons — did not made any rent payments for the entire year of 2013 before reaching a settlement with the city that included its closing.

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Jordy McTaggart’s Grill & Pub opened in The Commons in June 2014 under the leadership of Tim Rohrer and David Baker. The restaurant’s ownership was transferred to Mark and Richard Wilcox in early 2015, who continue to run the restaurant today. Jordy’s serves Irish-style pub food and beer.

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Although the Columbus Redevelopment Commission holds the lease with all tenants of The Commons — including Orange Leaf, Subway and Jordy McTaggart’s — the city Parks and Recreation Department, which oversees operations at The Commons, is in charge of collecting rent and other payments. Additionally, the attached Jackson Street Parking Garage is also leased through the redevelopment commission but is run by a private garage management company.

There is currently a vacancy left by the former Bistro 310 site, which originally opened in 2004 in the old Commons Mall. The restaurant reopened in 2009 at 310 Fourth St., but closed its doors permanently in December 2014.