Creating an Experience Shapes Carfagna’s New Polaris Area Market & Restaurant
At Carfagna’s new location, shoppers will watch fresh mozzarella being stretched; pasta being made by hand; make a stop at the meat counter that just might seem familiar. And do it all with a glass of wine or cappuccino in-hand.
The new Carfagna’s is going to be about experience.
Synonymous with Italian fare in Columbus, family-run Carfagna’s is stepping into a new, modern phase of its business. Carfagna’s will put its market and restaurant under one roof, moving into 27,000 square feet of space at 1440 Gemini Place near Polaris.
“We have been looking for a new location for probably 10 to 15 years,” says Marketing Director Salvatore Carfagna. “It’s more so because of the building we were in. We wanted to do more things. We wanted to have a restaurant. We wanted to be able to expand our specialty offerings. But we were never really able to find a true location that really satisfied all of our needs.”
Until now. Well, two to three years ago, actually.
Carfagna’s is taking over the former home of Earth Fare, an organic grocer that closed its doors in 2018. Cafagna says they have been working on their plans for the space ever since.
The Polaris location is just a mile and a half from their current restaurant, Carfagna’s Kitchen at 2025 Polaris Pkwy, and a five-mile drive up I-71 from their market, 1405 E. Dublin Granville Rd.
“We didn’t want to really leave the north side of where our large customer base is,” Carfagna says.
It’s a demographic they know has been successful for their business for decades as they enter the fourth generation of family ownership.
Carfagna says had it not been for the pandemic, they might have already been up and running in the new digs. The project was put on hold for a time, but the current situation actually solidified the need to carry on with the plan.
The new location will not only provide customers with more space, better safeguards and other COVID-friendly options like curbside pickup, but with more of everything, in general.
Carfagna says three words have guided the development of the market-restaurant hybrid: shop, taste and learn.
As for the shop part, Carfagna’s is focused on expanding its lineup of products available through the market.
Outside, guests will still be greeted by farmers market stalls, just like their current location, but this time sporting a roof overhead for all-seasons shopping.
Once inside, the “main drag” will host an Illy café, a gelateria – Carfagna’s sister has been taking gelato lessons from an Italian woman in California, a bakery brimming with breads, desserts, cookies and more, as well as a pizza shop with options to grab-and-go, take-and-bake or nosh on-site.
That lineup is the warmup to the market area which will have a pasta station with dried, frozen and fresh varieties, the deli, and, of course, Carfagna’s meat counter.
“We are literally designing this meat department to almost resemble, almost identical to our current location,” Carfagna says. “We don’t want to lose our nostalgia.”
The meat department will also expand its offerings, with dry-aged steaks and more modernized packaging. That will include more grab-and-go options to cut down on wait times for shoppers.
Tasting will be a big part of the shopping experience as well. Samples will be available so folks can try before they buy.
“I think that that’s really, really key,” Carfagna says.
Also in the eating department, the restaurant side of the operation, which will have its own entrance, will be serving up traditional Carfagna’s favorites, including their handmade pastas, soups and sauces, but see a few spruce ups and new menu items.
The restaurant will be set up with two formal dining areas, as well as a bar area with different nooks and seating options. A private dining room will accommodate larger parties.
The two sides – restaurant and market – will converge in a central piazza. The piazza will have seating and access to a classroom dedicated to events and cooking classes.
Rounding the entire experience out will be a state liquor agency and wine bar that will host tastings.
Carfagna sees their new location as the future of retail – creating not only a product that people want, but creating an experience that allows the product to flourish and come alive.
“We want to make this a destination for people to say, ‘Hey, we want to go to Carfagna’s not only to get these specialty goods, but be entertained,'” Carfagna says.
However, this new, modern beginning for Carfagna’s does mean some endings. Both the current restaurant and market will close. Carfagna says they are aiming for a seamless transition, so those spots likely won’t see their end until the new location’s projected spring 2021 opening.
He’s melancholy about the last holiday season for the market on Dublin Granville Road. Waiting in long lines for a holiday roast from Carfagna’s may have become a holiday tradition, but it’s those kinds of things the business looks to improve on at its new location.
All renderings provided by Carfagna’s