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Good Eats: Over 25 New Restaurants Opened in Columbus in 2012

Walker Evans Walker Evans Good Eats: Over 25 New Restaurants Opened in Columbus in 2012
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While not quite as robust of a list as what 2011 yielded, 2012 was still a great year for new additions to the Columbus dining scene. Options range from affordable to upscale in locations spread all throughout the region. Below is a roundup of restaurants that opened in the past year. Leave us a comment below if we missed something and we’ll add it to the list!

More Food for Downtowners

Downtown Columbus continued to see many new restaurants open without a whole lot of closings. The Gallerie Bar & Bistro opened inside the new Hilton Hotel. Chef Paul Yow left Barcelona to launch the new Natalie’s on South Fourth Street. The Columbus Food League’s opened The Grass Skirt Tiki Room this year, their sixth restaurant to date. Manifesto opened adjacent to the Ohio Statehouse offering a new place for italian dining and scotch sipping. Dempsey’s Restaurant opened on South High Street near the Franklin County Courthouse complex. The long awaited Zen Cha Tea Salon opened their Downtown location on Gay Street. Barrio closed on High Street and re-opened as the somewhat similar Madrid restaurant. The Inn Between changed management and features a transitioning menu and decor. The 89 Fish & Grill replaced Michael O’Tooles near the Convention Center. Rodizio Grill opened in The Arena District in June. 39 Below Fro Yo opened on Gay Street during the August heat. And last but not least, El Camino Inn opened next door to Little Palace.

Gourmet Pizza VS Gourmet Burgers

The number of gourmet pizza restaurants continued to grow in 2012 with the opening of a few noteworthy suburban restaurant. Pies & Pints expanded to Worthington by way of West Virginia. Natalie’s Coal Fired Pizza also made its debut in Worthington with their unique coal-fired pizza ovens, as the name implies. Dewey’s also expanded to Worthington, opening their second Central Ohio store (Edit: They announced an expansion, but it doesn’t appear to be open yet). Reynoldsburg also gained their own gourmet pizza show with Pie’s Bistro, which launched this summer. And while the “gourmet burger wars” may only be heating up with the addition of Flip Side at Easton, there are a few new burger-centric restaurants planned in the near future.

The Near West Side and Far West Side

Two new significant openings occurred on the west side; one closer to Downtown and the other way out on the far side. The former is Dinin’ Hall, the food truck pod that offers brick and mortar amenities to mobile food fans who don’t want to stand while they eat. The latter is the Columbus Hollywood Casino, which technically boasts four restaurants under one roof: Final Cut (an upscale steak and seafood restaurant), Epic Buffet (a buffet dining room), O.H. (a sports bar and entertainment lounge) and Take 2 Grill (a grab-and-go food station).

Drink-Centric Dining

A number of new restaurants opened in 2012 where beer or wine are at the center of the experience, but food is not necessarily an afterthought. That includes the new 101 Beer Kitchen gastropub in Dublin, Cooper’s Hawk Winery at Easton, the Barrel Wine Bar in Upper Arlington and The Tavern in Olde Towne East.

“We’re Expanding to Gahanna”

We’re not quite sure why, but Gahanna has become the go-to spot for local restaurants to make their second move. Downtown favorite El Arepazo opened up location numero dos in the historic area of Gahanna. The newer fast-casual Asian concept Fresh 50 followed suit with a Gahanna area expansion this year. And while Holy Smoke has maintained a Gahanna presence with their to-go retail store, they decided to convert it to a full blown restaurant this year to complement their North Market options.

Miscellaneous Eats

The Whole Foods Dublin store relaunched one of their in-store restaurants as The Local, a gastropub featuring many local products to eat and drink. Yabo’s Tacos opened their second store, this time in Upper Arlington, with an eye on many more in the near future. Till Dynamic Fare was born out of the seed of Dragonfly Neo-V and has been celebrated year long by local diners. Cafe Istanbul decided to get into the fast casual game by opening Pera near the Ohio State University. Wurst Und Bier opened their doors up at Crosswoods. And for dessert, Whit’s Frozen Custard expanded to The Short North earlier this year.

What was your favorite new restaurant of 2012?

Gallerie Bistro Photo by Walker Evans. Natalie’s Coal Fired Pizza Photo by Jennifer René. Cooper’s Hawk Winery Photo by Briana Gunter. Till Dynamic Fare Photo by Chris Walker.

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  • matchew

    Last I heard, there was no scheduled opening date nor location for the Worthington Dewey’s pizza yet. Was there an update I missed?

  • Oh! That could be my fault for assuming that they opened by now. I’ve not checked in on that location in awhile.

  • DTown

    Didn’t Dempsey’s open Downtown this year?

    Oh, and the Inn Between has finished renaming, and is now The Hungry Soul.

  • Yes! Dempsey’s did open in 2012. Will add it up top. We always manage to overlook at least a few restaurants on our initial list. ;) Keep em coming!

  • Auddino’s Bakery also opened a bakery cafe at Mill Run in Hilliard!

  • There were quite a few new alt.eats restaurants including:

    Tandoori Grill
    Haitian American restaurant
    Siem Reap
    Pho Chef
    Jiu Thai

  • pspock

    You mention Whits Frozen Custard, but fail to mention the nearly two dozen new frozn yogurt places that opened up.

  • Wurst Und Bier in Worthington and Rodizio Grill in the Arena District.

  • @pspock – I mentioned Whit’s because it’s based in Granville, and therefore, local. My impression is that most of the other frozen yogurt shops are non-local chains or franchises. Please correct me if I’m wrong and missing any.

    Though I did somehow manage to forget 39 Below FroYo on Gay Street!


  • meltsintowonder

    The Dewey’s location in Worthington was formerly a gas station. I believe their delay is the red tape and months of paperwork and waiting with the environmental clearance. I believe that if they knew they wouldn’t get open before the holiday, they’d hold off until closer to spring.

  • pspock

    Hi Walker. Yes, there are quite a few non-local chains and franchises that opened up new frozen yogurt shops here in 2012.

    Nine local frozen yogurt brands opened up 10 new stores in 2012:

    Cuzzin’s is a local chain that opened their first location in 2010 (Lane Ave Shopping Center) and their second locaction in 2011 (Hilliad). In 2012 they opened two more locations (OSU campus on High st and the Walmart shopping center on 23 North just north of Polaris Parkway).

    Yogeez is a local chain with the first location opened in 2012 (New Albany) with two more locations opening soon (Dublin/Avery Square and Upper Arlington/Arlington Pointe)

    39 Below FroYo (Downtown Columbus at 39 E Gay) 0pened in 2012

    Coolie Yo (Beechwold on High St) – Opened in 2012

    Oh Yo Fro Yo (Grove City next to Rave Movie Theater) – Opened in 2012

    Sweet Berry (Carriage Place at Bethel/Sawmill) – Opened in 2012

    Mochi Frozen Yogurt (Blacklick on Broad St) – Opened in 2012

    Yogopolis (Eastland Mall) – Opened in 2012

    Yaourt (Sun Center at Sawmill/161) – Opened in 2012

    Two other local brands also exist here, but didn’t open any new stores in 2012:

    Matcha (Bethel and Godown) – Opened in 2011

    Groovy Spoon (Clintonville on High St) – Opened in 2011. Also has a location in Marion.

    As you are probably aware, non local chains and franchises are opening up stores as well, but in 2012 they only opened up 3 new locations, far fewer than the local brands:

    Menchies opened their second location in Tuttle Mall in 2012. Their first location is on Sawmill behind the first Grafitti Burger. They also have two more locations coming soon, one in Gahana and the second yet to be determined.

    Sweet Frog (Polaris next to Rave Movie Theater) opened in 2012.

    Bad Frog (Downtown Dublin) – Opened in 2012.

    There is however a big presence of these chains because of the amount of stores they opened before 2012.

    Orange Leaf opened it’s first location in Columbus in 2010 (Kingsdale). It then opened up three more locations in 2011 (Grandview, Pickerington, and Westerville). It has four new locations coming soon (Hilliard Rome Rd and Renner Rd, Graceland shopping center, Sawmill Parkway and Powell Rd, and Perimeter Drive and Avery-Murield Dr).

    Spoon Me opened two locations in 2011 (Gahana and Bexley)

    Josie’s Opened two locations in 2011 (Polaris and Westerville). They also have a location out in Heath.

    Coldstone opened their new Frozen Yogurt Bar concept in late 2011 in the Tim Hortons next to Nationwide Arena.

    CherryBerry opened in 2011 at Sawmill and Powell in the old Big Bear shopping center.

    Yagoot opened at Easton in 2010.

    For a brief time there was a Red Mango at OSU campus on high that opened in 2009, but it closed and becames the location of one of the new Cuzzin’s.

    The growth of frozen yogurt has been ridiculous. In 2008 Columbus had none of these dedicated frozen yogurt stores.

    In 2009, Red Mango opened (total: 1, new in 2009: 1).

    In 2010, Menchies, Yagoot, Cuzzins and Orange Leaf each opened a store (total: 5, new in 2010: 4).

    In 2011, Orange Leaf opened 3 new locations, Spoon Me and Josie’s opened 2 new locations each, and Groovy Spoon, Matcha, CherryBerry, Coldstone and Cuzzins each opened 1 new location (total: 17, new in 2011: 12).

    In 2012, Cuzzins opened 2 new locations, Yogeeze, 39 Below Fro Yo, Coolie Yo, Oh Yo Fro Yo, Sweet Berry, Mochi, Yogopolis, Yaourt, Menchie’s, Sweet Frog, and Bad Frog each opened 1 new location, while Rad Mango closed (total 29, new in 2012: 13, lost in 2012: 1).

    There are 9 new locations coming soon according to these brands. I can only imagine the impact this explosiion of frozen yogurt stores is having on existing frozen dessert places, like Jeni’s Ice Cream, Graeters, Dairy Queen, Cold Stone Creamery, UDF, etc, etc… There has got to be a saturation point, as people can’t possibly be eating that much frozen yogurt unless they are replacing their ice cream consumption for it.

  • Wow, thanks for the summary on all things FroYo in Columbus. ;) I knew these had been popping up pretty quickly, but had no idea there were quite that many.


  • BrianW

    It’s been great over the last 1-1/2 years (since I’e moved downtown) to see the progress in dining there. Moving from a bunch of weekday lunch places to a great variety of neighborhood spots. There’s every indication this will continue (based on planned development), supplemented by the strong presence of food trucks (esp at Dinin’ Hall). Hopefully this will be more local entries like 89 Fish, 39 Below, Dempsey’s, etc., and not another Tim Horton, Olive Garden, or BJs.

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