Chapman’s Eat Market Readies for Takeout-Focused Opening in German Village
When Chapman’s Eat Market opens in German Village later this summer, it won’t quite be in the form Chef & Owner BJ Lieberman imagined.
“With COVID, we’ve definitely had to pivot substantially,” Lieberman says. “We are focusing on to-go food. As it is right now, we don’t have any plans or a date to open up the dining room for guests to come dine-in house yet.”
He says that’s partly due to COVID-19 cases being on the rise and partly because they haven’t had the opportunity to hire staff given the current environment.
The coronavirus and all of its subsequent fallout wasn’t on the horizon when Lieberman took over the space that was formerly Wunderbar and Pierogi Mountain, or more widely known as the original home of Max & Erma’s, at 739 S. Third St. in German Village.
Lieberman is an industry veteran, but this will be his first turn as owner and first restaurant in Columbus. He spent time at Husk in South Carolina before moving to Washington, D.C. to help his friend open Rose’s Luxury, taking on the role of sous chef. He only planned to stay for a year, but seven years later, he was still in DC and had his hand in helping his friend open two other concepts.
In talking with his wife about what was next, Lieberman knew it was time to do his own thing, but he didn’t want to compete against the restaurants he had helped to build.
Lieberman’s wife grew up in Delaware which put Central Ohio on his radar. Initially, he had never really considered moving to Columbus. The couple had visited her family for the holidays and throughout the year, but Lieberman hadn’t really spent time Downtown. However, the more he got to know the area, the more it grew on him.
Lieberman says he was attracted to the diversity of neighborhoods, each with their own vibe. Then, as he started his culinary tour of Columbus, he found a dining scene he doesn’t think will stay under the radar for long, filled with amazing restaurants.
“I really just want to be a part of that,” Lieberman says. “There’s a lot of young, really good chefs that are coming up in the city right now that I’m super excited to be – I’m not as young as some of them – but hopefully be a part of them.”
While he was originally envisioning a neighborhood gathering type joint – the kind of place someone could come every night if they wanted to – Chapman’s Eat Market will instead focus on dishes that travel well for the time being.
The menu will be heavily influenced not just by Lieberman, but his entire crew.
“I really want the menu to be a showcase of all of us as a team,” he says. Lieberman fully expects that the menu will evolve as they bring in new team members.
They’re finalizing dishes, but the Chapman’s menu will feature eats like sandwiches, burgers, lettuce wraps and salads. They’ll look to satisfy the sweet-tooth crowd as well, with ice creams by the pint.
Owning a scoop shop has long-been a dream of Lieberman’s, and the current environment gave him the perfect platform to start experimenting with the fun, seasonal flavors Chapman’s will serve.
To wash it all down, there will be a menu of to-go cocktails and wine.
Lieberman says they’ll look to keep things nimble at the start as they gauge demand. He acknowledges what a strange time it is to open a restaurant. He doesn’t want to overwhelm staff if they are lucky enough to be busy from the start, ensuring everything is top quality from day one.
When guests do get to experience dine-in at Chapman’s, they’ll be walking into a space that balances being bright and airy, while retaining some of the building’s historic charm.
The brick has been white-washed and the wood painted pink, but the bar remains – with a few upgrades. They’ve swapped in wallpaper on either side of the bar to make it pop and replaced the bar top with half brass and half cherry wood.
Coworking space Kollektive will continue to operate on the upper floors of the building, but coworkers will no longer be able to float in the restaurant space during the day, as was the agreement with Wunderbar.
Chapman’s has yet to set an opening date, but Lieberman is aiming for early August. He says to keep an eye on Instagram for an announcement.
For more information, follow Chapman’s on Instagram at @eatchampmans.