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Food & Drink

North Market Future: What to expect from tower development

J.R. McMillan



On a long enough timeline, everything this side of the Atlantic seems shiny and new by relative comparison. Public markets elsewhere in the world mostly measure their history in centuries instead of decades. And even their more recent descendants, like London’s Camden Market, feature more than 1,000 vendors and top 100,000 visitors on an average weekend.

But is authenticity lost in all that bustle? Can you really claim to be local if you practically require your own zip code?

That’s the inherent challenge in preserving and expanding any public market, keeping things literally and figuratively fresh without losing the culture and community that customers have come to expect. And that’s why planning for the new North Market Tower has generated both anticipation and apprehension in a neighborhood that’s seen a lot of change lately, not all of it welcome.

“I grew up in Columbus until I was 18, so I remember the Quonset hut. When I moved back, we were in this building. I started coming here a lot just like when I was a kid,” recalled Rick Harrison Wolfe, Executive Director of the North Market. Despite zero nonprofit experience, it was his vision of the future that earned him the position from among more than 400 applicants for the role. “Expansion wasn’t part of my presentation, but it was already on my mind. The more I considered the space and the experience, I knew there were opportunities that could only come with growth, and there was nowhere to go but up.”

A rendering of the proposed North Market Tower Courtesy of NBBJ

Wolfe’s résumé is revealing and rolling, following a career in fashion that took him from Chicago to San Francisco and Los Angeles before heading back to Columbus. Upon returning to his hometown, and a brief reinvention in the local food truck scene, his retail insights and close-to-the-bricks work ethic comfortably converged in the food-centric destination constantly adapting to new trends and tastes.

“When you look back to the original market of the late 1800s, it’s where people came for provisions, for everything. The North Market at the turn of the century had a quiltmaker and a blacksmith. It reflected the role of public markets of the era,” he explained. “I think we need to think about the other types of retail we can bring in. I love that we focus on food, and complements for food. It says on our door that we’re, ‘local, fresh, authentic.’ There are a lot of businesses in Columbus that are local, fresh, and authentic that aren’t just food.”

Beyond the expansion of vendor space, the mix of offices, residences, and a hotel—with parking to support all of them—is enough public space to present and restore enumerable opportunities. A vital public market requires ongoing change, but that constant churn can be unnerving for patrons and prospective tenants. When square footage is always scarce, something has to go to make room for something new. Space that became home to a highly-popular purveyor of poultry used to serve as a quirky catering and event location. I actually have friends who were married there, and now when folks see their wedding photos, everyone asks why they decided to exchange vows at Hot Chicken Takeover. Wolfe knew capacity and critical mass would always be at odds without a radical solution that created both.


“Density and flexibility, having people who live and work in North Market Tower, is crucial for our merchants and our future. You have to evolve to remain relevant,” he noted, explaining that earlier designs have changed, but still reflect the original priorities. “Projects like these always evolve, and should, just like the market itself. A rendering is just a rendering until it’s a reality.”

Wolfe’s earlier career has also had a more subtle hand in the growth of the North Market, particularly the travel it afforded and his experiences with public markets in the US and abroad. California-inspired elements from Oxbow Public Market in Napa and Grand Central Market in Los Angeles, which has seen a similar resurgence in recent years, have been given a Midwest makeover that suits Central Ohio.

“I used to travel to Barcelona twice a year, which has one of the strongest public market systems in the world. With 35 markets, anywhere in Barcelona is only a 15-minute walk from the nearest public market,” he explained. “I’ve been to Borough Market in London, which is more than 1,000 years old, and it’s still where you get the best taste of the city.”

In fact, the North Market is for many visitors their first taste of our city as well, conveniently located across the street from the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Recent attendees from the American Society of Association Executives selected Columbus for their annual conference for several reasons. But the Short North, and the North Market in particular, make quite a first impression on guests from across the country. It’s why Joe DeLoss, founder of Hot Chicken Takeover, calls the North Market, “the front door to Columbus.” Those fond memories may mean millions. Experience Columbus predicts if even a fraction of those organizations represented by ASAE bring their own conferences to Central Ohio, it could create half a billion dollars in local economic impact over the next decade.

“Deals like this between the city and developers are always a negotiation. But Columbus included us in those conversations. We were always in the room, and that doesn’t happen everywhere,” he explained. “You’re going to laugh when I say I got more than I wanted in this project, but it’s true.”

Though talk of the North Market Tower seemed to go silent for nearly a year after it was formally announced, much of that was to accommodate the mandate that the market remain open for the duration of construction. Ongoing development throughout the Short North—from streetscape, sidewalks, and parking improvements—have had their share of fierce critics and retail casualties. The current plan includes 28 stories and a budget approaching $200 million. Even amid a project this complex, Wolfe remains committed to an orderly transition instead of avoidable disruption.

“The cost and construction of the building we’re in right now wasn’t a safe bet at the time either. It was a long shot. There isn’t a public market project like this anywhere in the world, and there hasn’t been an expansion of a public market in the U.S. this big in the past 50 years,” Wolfe noted. “But when you look at projects like the riverfront now, people ask why we didn’t do this years ago. I hope when this project is complete and people see and experience the evolution, they say the same about the North Market.”

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Food & Drink

Riesling and Relaxation: Dublin’s new wine bar puts hospitality first

Mike Thomas



While a spontaneous trip to the Napa Valley might be out of your budget, fans of wine in Central Ohio can experience a taste of the California lifestyle right in the heart of Dublin.

“I spent a lot of time on the west coast in my previous professional life, and it has just become the inspiration for the vibe in the space,” explains Coast Wine House owner Dustin Snow, who recently opened shop after pivoting out of a career in corporate retail. “We want to transport you to a different place, and the kind of optimism and pace of life in California is something that we wanted to bring here as much as we could.”

Since opening their doors in late 2019, Snow and his wife and business partner Molly had a clear vision for their business. Turned off by the decidedly highbrow atmosphere of the traditional wine bar, the two hoped to create a relaxing, unpretentious environment for their guests to enjoy.

Photos: Olivia K. James

“People are drinking wine a lot. They’re drinking it at home, they are drinking it [while] out to dinner, but it didn’t seem like they were really going to wine bars,” Snow says of the research that he and his team undertook before opening Coast. “Through that research, we developed a space that was just as much about the wine as it was about creating a really approachable, relaxed, comfortable environment.”

Even from the street, the homey, welcoming nature of Coast Wine House is immediately obvious. Converted from an old residential home near the heart of Old Dublin, the interior of the space charms with its rustic hardwood floors, dinner table-style seating, and inviting hearth.

“Our number one thing is that we want you to feel like you’re coming into our home and sharing a glass of wine with us, as opposed to bellying up to a crowded bar,” Snow says of the wine house’s laid-back vibes.

Not exactly a wine connoisseur? No problem. You won’t find the words “fine wines” used anywhere at Coast, nor will a sommelier try to drill you with hard science about tannins and terroir. Instead, Snow’s hospitality-first approach focuses on the stories surrounding individual winemakers, helping the drinker understand the unique values behind each product.

Above all, Coast Wine House explores the potential of wine to serve as the centerpiece to meaningful social interaction. To that end, Snow knew that the modern, resurgent Dublin would serve as the perfect home for his business.

“Dublin is doing everything right to get people to live here, to play here, and to work here. Bridge Park is evidence of that,” he says. “There are a lot of young families moving outside the outer belt, and [Dublin] is becoming a model for this sort of post-suburban community that I think a lot of other communities from around the country are going to look at Dublin and say, ‘OK, what are they doing and how can we replicate that?’”

To help promote exploration, the menu at Coast typically features 15–20 wine-by-the- glass options. Visitors can also sample 2 oz. pours, either just to taste, or for a “make your own flight” experience. For the casual wine drinker, there are plenty of familiar favorites (Cabernet, Chardonnay) with plenty more that might be less commonly known—a Kerner from Northern Italy, Aglianico from Southern Italy, or the Carignon from Santa Barbara, to name just a few.

With apologies to the TGIF set, you won’t find margaritas or cheap happy hour deals here. What Coast does offer is a lineup of classic cocktails that speak to the winemaking tradition, highlighting ingredients like sherry and vermouth—both of which are actually fortified wines. For the ardent hop heads, Coast keeps a selection of locally- produced brews on-hand as well.

A menu of light shareables joins the mix, currently featuring such classic, wine-friendly staples as cheese, olives, and hummus. Snow plans to grow this portion of the menu in time, but emphasizes that the fare on display will never amount to full-size entrees.

Coast’s in-house bottle shop has around 130 wines from around the world in stock. Whether you take one to go, or open it right there, Snow and his team will help you select the right bottle for any taste or occasion. Right now, a Piquepoul de Pinet is one of his favorites.

“Piquepoul is a dry white wine out of Southern France. It is bright, it’s refreshing, it’s got a good balance of citrus and minerality, and it’s really, really well-priced,” he explains. “It’s very approachable—one that we would call a ‘porch pounder’ around these parts.”

For a sample of Coast’s wine-centered social environment, check out one of its special events. Past events have included an exclusive 12 seat dinner highlighting four to five wines of a particular winemaker, or an engagement featuring $10 flights showcasing wine-producing regions from around the globe.

Looking for a place to enjoy a glass of wine without the pretensions of many wine bars and specialty shops? Just head for the Coast.

To learn more, visit Facebook, and be sure to check

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Food & Drink

Lent Lowdown: 5 of our favorite Friday fish spots

Mike Thomas



Not having grown up in the Catholic tradition, I have little firsthand experience of Lent. To me, a consummate junk food junkie, this time of year has meant a chance to snag a discounted filet-o-fish from McD's and not much else.

Not content to wallow in ignorance through another season of Lent, I took to Google to learn the meaning behind this religious observance. While I'm still a few credits shy of a degree in theology, good old Wikipedia managed to shed some light on the history and tradition behind this time of prayer, penance, and self-denial.

Even if some basic research yields a wealth of knowledge on the subject, the widely known facts remain essential to the experience of Lent. If you're observing tradition, you're probably giving something up for 40 days. You might be fasting, or spending more time in prayer. But for all the faithful, a big unifying factor is the "no meat on Friday" rule that typically leads to an uptick in fish consumption.

Looking for the best places to score the goods on these meatless Fridays? 614NOW has you covered. Refer to this list of favorite local establishments that are ready to serve your Lenten needs.

Old Bag of Nails | Multiple Locations

This popular central Ohio chain stocks plenty of seafood favorites year round, but Lent is truly their time to shine. Dinners, platters, or po' boys - blackened, Cajun, or fried. This menu is overflowing with the sea's bounty, but the star of the show is the British Style Fish & Chips ($13.99).

Queen's Table | Find the truck

The official meal of Comfest—The Fish Boat—is actually available year-round, but it's not the easiest to come by. Queen's Table operates as a food truck throughout the year, so be on the lookout for the Columbus seafood classic next time you need a lent-friendly lunch. (Sites like street food finder are a big help in tracking down your favorite mobile eats.)

Mitchell's Fish Market | 1245 Olentangy River Rd, Columbus

Need I say more? For a high-end Friday night out, you really can't go wrong with this campus-adjacent seafood joint from Columbus' culinary king.

City BBQ | Multiple Locations

Each year on honor of Lent, Columbus' BBQ favorite adds fish to their normally red-meat centered menu. Now through April 4, dishes featuring southern-fried catfish and Atlantic smoked salmon join the party. City BBQ's catfish is some of the best around, and is definitely worth seeking out at least once during this limited annual appearance.

Rooster's | Multiple Locations

We all know it's a fun casual joint, but did you know they have fish on the menu? Easily lost in the shuffle between dumpster fries and the biggest wings around, Rooster's generously-sized battered fish sandwich comes in at a very wallet friendly $7.59. And after all, cheese-covered tots are Lent friendly, aren't they?

Of course, fish fries will be going down across numerous churches throughout the season. This handy list from WBNS will help you find one close to you.

What are your go-to places to eat during Lent? Let us know in the comments.

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Food & Drink

2 Columbus chefs in the running for top culinary award

614now Staff



For the first time in eight years, Columbus chefs will vie for coveted honors from the James Beard Foundation according to Columbus Monthly.

Celebrating its 30th year in 2020, the James Beard Award is considered one of the culinary field's highest honors. Ray Rays Hog Pit owner James Anderson has been named as a semifinalist for the honor of "Best Chef: Great Lakes," while Spencer Budros, co-owner of Pistacia Vera, was nominated for Outstanding Baker.

The last time Columbus chefs were considered for an award from the foundation was 2012, when chefs Richard Blondin and Kent Rigsby were named semifinalists.

Finalists for the awards will be announced on March 25.

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