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Several New Businesses Coming Soon to Gay Street

Walker Evans Walker Evans
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After the recent two-way streetscaping conversion, Gay Street quickly has become the gem of Downtown with new restaurants, businesses, and residences flocking to the area. And a quick stroll down the sidewalk this morning reveals that even more is on the way.

We previously mentioned that J. Gumbo’s would be taking over the old Skambo space at 31 E. Gay Street, and a lot of progress has been made to the interior in the past few weeks.

In the space next door, the Faithfully Yours Childcare service currently located in the back of the building is expanding around to the front retail space.

One more unit down at 37 E. Gay Street also has a “coming soon” sign for a business called Shine Me Up, which will provide shoe repairs, footwear sales, foot massages, and some convenience store items.

Right next door to Tip Top, in the window of a recently closed hair salon, there is now a “coming soon” sign for The Plantain Cafe. The sign doesn’t provide many details other than their slogan: A Taste of Cuba.

And lastly, as a bit of a non-update, no progress appears to have been made on the space that was said a year ago to become a new Zen Cha Tea Salon. Not sure if it’s too early to consider that project abandoned, but I imagine with so many other spaces filling in that it won’t sit empty for too long.

Now that Gay Street is filling in, should it be time to consider the next couple of Downtown streets for two-way streetscaping conversions? How about Main Street? Or Long Street? Or Fourth Street? Or the rest of Front Street? Bring on the renovations!

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  • A Cuban restaurant in downtown? :)

  • Mae

    I’m glad to see these storefronts filling up. I’m intrigued by both J. Gumbo’s and the Plantain Café, looking forward to trying them both.
    I’m ready to see some more two-way street conversions downtown, too. Main Street would be a great candidate.

  • I assume this could mean another patio in front of the Plantain Cafe? Now the only place left that needs one through there is Subway. ;)

  • I think ODOT is spending $5.5 Million of stimulus money on the Front Street conversion:

  • It’s only River South, though right? It’s not the entire stretch? 

    It would be a great stretch of road to have 2 way. 

  • Yeah, the conversion on South Front is only from Rich Street to Broad Street (and Civic Center’s two-way-ness will match it). Front will remain one way between Livingston and Rich and Broad up to Hickory. I think it’s really wonky to have it switching between one and two ways so much, and they should just be making the whole thing two-way. I imagine they won’t touch the portion around the split until that revamp is underway.

    I do think Main, Rich, and Town are all good candidates for two-way streets, especially now that the City Center is closed.

    And Spring, Long, Third, and Fourth will all make great candidates when the split fix project gets underway, rendering them less useful than they currently are as highway feeders.

  • Part of Front is better than nothing, right? And if we’re getting one, or half, of a street Downtown converted every couple of years, we just need to be patient and be glad for the improvements.

  • kessler

    I’d be leary of part of front being switched due to the fact of the number of drivers/cyclists I see turning the wrong way onto oneway streets anyway. Switching back and forth seems to be too complicated for some anyway let alone oneway streets to begin with :-/

    ETA: oops forgot the business on Gay sounds good to me can’t wait to try some cuban and the other options.

  • Columbusite Says: Part of Front is better than nothing, right? And if we’re getting one, or half, of a street Downtown converted every couple of years, we just need to be patient and be glad for the improvements.

    Of course! Progress is progress, and I’m really happy about that. Just waned to stir up a little speculation on what comes next. ;)

  • Sorry, I tried to focus on being purely optimist, but it’s not me. I’ll be glad to check out these new places and spend more time on Gay St, but the city should be replicating the Gay St model on a larger scale, and at a faster pace so that we can have a great Downtown sooner than later. Gay St attracted a lot of development (two developers, but lots of units) and now these additional businesses. I’m a little confused as to why the city hasn’t used this to catapult a master plan of similar streets Downtown. Just copy and paste already, I say.

  • Don’t we have that pesky little budget thing to fix?

  • Roland

    This is all very exciting. I’m most excited to hear more about the Plantain Cafe.

    Once Gay St is all filled out, I think we’ll see more businesses spill into the immediate surrounding area. On the other hand, Maybe we’ll see more action over on 4th St. Liz brings trendiness wherever she goes doesn’t she? :)

  • ScooterMKE

    A good Cuban restaurant will do well downtown.  I live in Milwaukee now (grew up in Columbus) and we have an excellent Cuban restaurant downtown called Cubanitas that is always packed and is a great meeting spot for weekday drinks and weekend lunches.  Hopefully it will be as good as that.

  • Flipping out right now about this Cuban place. If the food is good I may loose my mind.

  • Hey cool, hope they do well!

  • Mike Brown

    I went to Cubanitas in Milwaukee last summer, it was great! 
    Yes, City does have an operating budget challenge to address, but the Capital budget is kept separate from the operating budget and pays for our infrastructure.  Capital dollars can’t be spent locally on things like police and firefighters, they as allocated only to major construction or vehicles like fire trucks. 
    These capital dollars are also important because they leverage private sector investment, as you are seeing downtown (between 3 and 7 dollars leveraged from others for every City dollar invested downtown).  Every dollar is also putting someone to work in construction, engineering, architecture, etc.

  • I know the two are separate, I just wonder how much political capital is left for the city to keep doing these things. I think most of us here realize to keep investing (and the proof in Gay st.)-it’s convincing the citizens of Columbus that these are good ideas and investments. 

  • Neil Jaye

    I really hope the Gay Street district does well. I would like to see more nightlife options expand in that area. I think it could a potentially be a mini-Adams Morgan (DC) district with interesting shops, bars and restaurants if played right, which would be really cool.

  • Not Adams Morgan, I want to be able to afford going out here. ;)

    And like Mike said, the money the city is spending on complete street improvements like this is seeing investment in the form of developers and more businesses Downtown. I hope he and others here understand the importance of this. I can’t help but compare this with the car-oriented counterpart Morse Rd which saw street improvements costing roughly the same amount. Let’s compare the two.

    Gay St was converted to a two-way street and traffic-calmed in line with a complete streets policy. It was $8 million and finished in 11/07. The first phase of Morse Rd improvements cost $8.6 million and was finished in 05/08, and really only gave lip service to complete street principals. All I found was that the improvements for Morse have been attributed to a lower vacany rate for retail from 12.7% to 12.1%, which is an improvement, but have the benefits been comparable? Have developers gone forward with conversion of the Northland site to “Northland Village”? And do they have a bar/restaurant with a patio that is full at 1:00 AM on a Sunday night?

    BTW, Zen Cha was stalled but is now finally going forward last I heard.

  • heresthecasey

    @columbusite, same locale for the new zen cha? or did they find new digs?

  • Columbusite: Great thoughtful data comparison between Morse & Gay projects. Bravo! :D

  • Morse Rd still has half a year, to be fair in the comparison, but I never make it up there (too far and I’d have to bike across a highway interchange) and couldn’t find anything on the progress of the “Northland Village” concept. Only talk about it dragging and that was from ’08. Surely someone else who is more familiar with Morse Rd (ie, have driven along there in the last year or so) can provide more info.

    Zen Cha will be in the same spot on Gay.

    I think Zach was well ahead of his time when he labeled this area of Downtown the “Latin District”, since the number of latino restaurants has doubled.

  • Definitely, the only difference between Gay Street and Morse Road is how complete streets were handled.  No socio-economic issues  between them at all, they’re practically identical.

  • I’d imagine that plenty of landowners and building owners along Morse Road have money to spend on redevelopment.

  • I think you have to wait for Phase 2 of Morse Road to be done a year from now to make any comparisons.  Phase 2 is east of Karl Rd which is where the frontage is for the Northland site.  Menards is building a big box. I am looking forward to the bike lanes.

  • An update through the grapevine about The Plantain Cafe: They’re going to be a sit down cafe serving authentic Cuban eats during lunch time only. They’re aiming to be open by October.

  • Just a correction, I’m pretty sure that Gay St. pic in the slideshow is mine. You can credit it under “Keith Morris”  instead of Columbusite.

    Kinda bummed to hear yet another place only staying open for lunch. Oh well, more business for those that keep their doors open later then.

  • Fixed the photo credit. ;)

    Perhaps the Plantain Cafe will change their hours if there is demand for it.

  • I was about to say. I really don’t expect a business in a market like downtown to do anything too risky that may put them out in a short time. Better to have the infill and at least have people coming downtown some of the time than none. I’m sure they’ll probably catch on pretty quick that staying open later in the day, especially with the downtown festivals and other special events going on, is a good thing.

    Of course we can always help that along by patronizing these places and asking about later hours.  

  • jennyleah31

    i’m anxiously waiting to see if this will be a REAL cuban restaurant and not some americanized knock-off. living in miami i’m on withdraw from…. roast pork (shredded melt in ur mouth, juicy), real chimichurri, cafe con leche, rice and beans mixed moro (sp) style that’s cooked w/ ham hock etc, mariquitas w/ garlic lemon dipping sauce, and churrasco steak… !!!! i have to say though that Goya frozen sweet plantains are pretty damn good :) 

  • The same grapevine that I posted about earlier also told me that the owner’s wife is Cuban, so hopefully that means that they will be somewhat authentic in their offerings. ;)

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