Modernized Chintz Room Restaurant Reopening at Lazarus Building
For those of us who are too young to remember, The Chintz Room was *the* place for lunch Downtown for decades until its closure in 1998. This department store dining room was where ladies put on their best hats and gloves for tea time, and fancy sandwiches were all the rage.
In 2014, the restaurant will make a modernized return under the helm of Elizabeth Lessner’s Columbus Food League, but instead of being tucked away up on the fifth floor of the Lazarus Building, it will be located down on the High Street level facing Columbus Commons.
“Amy Taylor from the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation approached me about helping to locate a new tenant for their restaurant space,” explains Lessner on the origins of the project. “I was not at all interested at first myself, and I mentioned that the only way we’d want to do something there is if we reopened the Chintz Room. Her eyes lit up and she said she loved the idea, so we ran with that and built upon it.”
The new concept was officially approved today by the CDDC board, which owns and operates the Lazarus Building. The historic structure is also home to Cup O Joe, the OSU Urban Arts Space, the Center for Architecture and Design, and office tenants including the Columbus Chamber, Franklin County Economic Development Department, the Ohio Department of Insurance and many others.
The new restaurant space takes up roughly 4,000 square feet with a dining room of 2,500 square feet, making this one of the largest Columbus Food League restaurants to date (Tip Top is roughly half that size). In typical CFL fashion, the Chintz Room will take on a hipper motif while paying homage to history.
“I grew up in Chicago, and the Oak Room was the equivalent there,” says Lessner. “Every city had a main Downtown department store restaurant, and I think everyone has good memories of them. We’re going to keep a touch of nostalgia while bringing it up to modern day.”
To accomplish that, CDDC has retained many of the old fixtures from the Lazarus Building, which will come out of storage for the build out. The menu will also get an update from Co-Owner and Executive Chef Michael Hermick of Zapico Foods.
“The original Chintz Room was known for their celery dressing, so we’ll be reinventing that into a more current version,” says Lessner. “They were also one of the first restaurants to put grapes and walnuts into chicken salad, so we’ll be doing some newer creative twists like that as we modify the recipes.”
Lessner says that the restaurant will be open for lunch, dinner and late night service seven days a week, and expects construction to take around six months as CDDC has already drafted plans and hired a construction team and is ready to start ASAP.
“I hope we can be open by early summer,” adds Lessner. “We’re already working closely with Cup O Joe next door to try to come up with ways to collaborate with our patios for some fun events.”
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Three Other Irons in the CFL Fire:
While chatting with Lessner about the Chintz Room announcement, we had to ask about the status of some of the other CFL restaurant projects still in the works. Here’s a quick update on where they stand:
- Dirty Frank’s Westgate – Aiming to be open by January 1st.
- The Torpedo Room – Planning a preview from Dec 16-18 with a goal of being open for limited hours before Christmas.
- The Franklinton Tap Room – On track for a Fall 2014 opening. Still in the process of bidding for contractors through the Franklinton Development Association.