But also stepping up to the plate for hungry folks are eateries looking to add a location in the city. Those include Chili Thai, Chicken Salad Chick, Sugga's and Moe's Southwest Grill, along with another Hardee's, McDonald's and Subway in a growing area of Columbus.
Adams Brokerage Co. has just broken ground on a 9,800-square-foot strip center adjacent to the Arby's outlet on Whittlesey Boulevard at Columbus Park Crossing, with Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panda Express anchoring the space, which could have up to six tenants in all when it opens in the fall, said Wes Lewis, senior vice president and broker for the Columbus company.
"The fact that they want to be in Columbus speaks volumes because we're technically number three in the state behind Augusta and Atlanta. So we're beginning to be on the radar finally from some of these national restaurants and tenants who aren't even in the market," said Lewis, noting both Chipotle and Panda Express are in rapid growth phases.
But that's not all for Adams Brokerage, which also should break ground this summer on a 28,900-square-foot strip center on Veterans Parkway, adjacent to McAlister's Deli and across from Lowe's. The center will have between seven and 14 tenants, Lewis said, when it makes its debut early next year.
The center's layout currently looks to have Huey Luey's, a Mexican food concept, and Newk's Cafe on each end of it. In between those so far are Cheeseburger Bobby's and Uncle Maddio's Pizza Joint.
"Owners of Huey Luey's are also the owners of Cheeseburger Bobby's, which is like a Five Guys Burgers and Fries," Lewis said. "They're based in Atlanta and have multiple locations. They've got a great following in the markets they're in currently."
Heading east on U.S. Highway 80, or J.R. Allen Parkway, Lakeside Village at Beaver Run is approaching the moment when several new restaurants will open their doors.
So far, those committed to the center — which fronts the 263-unit Lakeside Village Apartments — include Chicken Salad Chick (already at The Landings), Moe's Southwest Grill, Yogli Mogli Frozen Yogurt, My Favorite Muffin, Hardee's and Subway, said Lucy Jones, an executive and commercial broker with Columbus-based Woodruff Co., which is putting the development together.
"We are turning one building over to the tenants in about a week for an Aug. 15 opening, and the other building will open later in the fall," she said of the center, which will have about 36,000-square-feet of restaurant and retail space at full build-out, enough for up to 14 tenants. The project also includes seven outparcels.
Jones said the shopping center and its tasty offerings should appeal to both residents and company employees in and around the Beaver Run area, considering it's a bit of a drive to make it all the way to Columbus Park Crossing on a lunch hour. She also isn't surprised that the city's culinary menu is growing, particularly with restaurant concepts not already here.
"I think it's such a need that we've had for so long to have some different things," she said. "When you travel to other cities, they have things we just don't have. So it's good to get some diversity."
Ben Billings, a Columbus developer who landed a Walmart Supercenter on Gateway Road near Lakeside Village a few years ago, agrees, saying when it comes to the current clustering of retail and places to eat in the area, "more is merrier."
Billings, who is steadily piecing together a mini-shopping hub with his Billings Crossings development adjacent to Walmart, is poised to begin construction on a 7,700-square-foot center that will have up to five tenants.
It should open by November, he said, with at least a couple of restaurants. One that he declined to name yet will serve Japanese cuisine, while the other will be Ebert & Gerbert's Sandwich Shop, a Wisconsin-based eatery that also will have a location on Whittlesey Road, in the Bradley Park Drive area.
"Eateries are what we need," said Billings, who estimates he still has room for three to four more strip centers. He already has landed an iHop and a Chinese Express on the site.
"We fight the stigma that we're way out here," said Billings, pointing out a McDonald's also is now coming out of the ground near the intersection of U.S. 80 and Flat Rock Road.
"We have a problem marketing to corporate America," he said. "They have this formula where they want to drop a pin into a three-mile demographic range. It's hard to bring people three miles away from town out here because there's so many choices for them to choose from there. But if you look in the other direction — the east and northeast, out the corridors of Highway 80 and Highway 85 — for the next 40 miles those people work and shop in Columbus and they come through this intersection."
Beyond Columbus Park Crossing and the Gateway Road-Lakeside Village developments, new restaurant creation is more scattered.
Steven Davidson, the Fuddrucker's franchisee in Columbus on Airport Thruway, said July 1 is his target date to open Erbert & Gerbert's in the former Columbus Coffee location at Bradley Park. He mentioned the chain requires drive-thrus at most of its locations.
"They're really different sandwiches. They're really unique, good subs," he said.
Chili Thai, which already has a restaurant at 5870 Veterans Parkway in north Columbus, is slowly but surely getting things ready for a second location at 19 West 10th St., in downtown Columbus, said Glenn Dyer, who owns the eatery with his wife, Tanistha, a native of Thailand. They just closed the purchase of the property last week.
"The one thing you learn with ethnic food is nobody is going to do it better than a family does it. They know it, they live it," said Glenn Dyer, referring to his wife and her cousins who do the cooking. He has no current date for Chili Thai's opening as work continues on the downtown space, formerly home to a bakery.
Then there's Sugga's, a Southern cooking establishment on 18th Avenue in Columbus, which is opening a location at Harmony Place near the corner of Airport Thruway and Whitesville Road. Dave Erickson, who owns the space Sugga's will be inhabiting, said it should open the first week of June.
And, finally, it hasn't found where it wants to land in Columbus yet. But la Madaleine, a Dallas-based French bakery cafe, with three locations in Atlanta, is looking to put two of the cafe's in Columbus, said Jason Gilbreth, a public-relations representative for the chain.
"They've got breakfast, lunch and dinner with a really cool kind of inviting atmosphere with a fireplace," he said. "The first one they can see opening in the next 12 months, and then another one will hopefully follow shortly after."
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