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Bodega to Close for a Month in February for a Facelift and Relaunch

Ayana Wilson Ayana Wilson Bodega to Close for a Month in February for a Facelift and Relaunch
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In the nine years Bodega has been at its 1044 North High Street location, it’s become one of the most beloved spots in the Short North, consistently voted Best Happy Hour in the city by CU readers. Its impressive mix of craft beer and satisfying food makes it not only a favorite watering hole, but a can’t-miss for visitors to the city as well.

This February, Bodega will close its doors for several weeks for a face lift and a new attitude. Sangeeta Lakhani and Collin Castore, owners of Bodega, have decided that it’s time to shake things up and re-envision what Bodega is currently, and what it can be in the future.

“The Short North is getting too clean. We want to add some character back,” shares Castore on the decision to rebrand and relaunch. “We want Bodega to be a reflection of who we are now. We love this, but we need to make a change.”

And the changes are significant. The pair will fashion Bodega 2.0 after the classic New York city bodegas of the 1970s, without the batteries and lottery tickets for sale behind the counter, of course. They will change the storefront, update the basement, paint the walls, and shift the bar to create a space that’s more functional for both guest and worker.

The  booths at Bodega will be removed, making way for counter service, which is in keeping with the updated theme. Think of it like Seventh Son Brewing’s setup, where customers order their meal from a food truck that delivers to the patrons’ tables. Only at Bodega, the food truck will be the kitchen.

This new layout will allow for more ease of flow: servers will be able to quicker deliver food and drink to diners without the hassle of taking orders and splitting checks, which slows down the service currently at Bodega, and guests will find less congestion, easier ordering, and more pleasant service after the change.

The food at Bodega will also undergo some adjustments, mainly a heavy streamline. Chef Marcus Meacham will still head up the kitchen, but the menu will be smaller, simpler, and flexible, changing seasonally. Lakhani and Castore are still testing ideas, but hint they have some surprises up their sleeves.

One significant loss will be that of Grilled Cheese Mondays, a haloed tradition in the Short North that many will surely miss. Castore and Lakhani understand, and are prepared for, the backlash that will come from this move, but insist it’s the right course as Bodega evolves.

Customers will love the new bar though. In keeping with the notion of simplification, the owners will extend the current bar to end where the bathrooms currently are, moving the entrance to the restrooms a short distance west. The bathrooms will be redone, and with the added room, conveniences like a separate growler fill station can be installed.

The drink list at Bodega will also be tweaked. There will be a heavier focus on hand-crafted cocktails stemming from a narrower, but sleeker, selection of liquors. Cocktails on tap will be available, and visitors will also notice less bottled beer, a tactic that should reduce redundancy in offering as both the number and variety of beers on draught should stay the same.

Both the food and drink menus should fit on one page when all’s said and done, but look for more pop-up specials from Chef Meacham, as well as beer-pairing dinners, when Bodega reopens in early March. Spring will be just around the corner by then, and Bodega will be raising its roof, literally, in order to install a functional four-season patio.

Twenty-five percent of Bodega’s seating is lost during the cold months, so working to introduce a cool enclosure using plexiglass ensures that the seating capacity, which is near 70 including the patio, won’t fall during the slower months of the year.

Most of the materials Lakhani and Castore and their team will use will be repurposed from the current fixtures and decor. This way, the next evolution of Bodega will still maintain some of the familiarity and charm of the old.

“We were ahead of the curve when we opened, and we want to be sure to keep up with our own game,” adds Lakhani on the new outlook. “It’s hard to make changes, but we have to move forward. And if you’re going to do that, you go balls out. And we are.”

Bodega should be closed for roughly three to five weeks when they shut down this February. The goal is to be reopened by St. Patrick’s Day, and no later than the beginning of April, their best month for business as hibernation ends for most of us.

For more on Bodega’s progress, visit www.columbusbodega.com.

Photo via Bodega.

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