The Random Restaurant Tour (II)

Yesterday the Unkempt Guy, the Bus-Riding Conservative and I ventured a few blocks north and east of the firm.  We were heading into what is now called the Warehouse District.  As the name suggests, it’s an area of old brick storage buildings — some rehabbed and occupied, some not — and surface parking lots, tucked into the corner of downtown between the old fire station museum and CCAD.  For a part of downtown, it’s definitely off the beaten path.

It’s the kind of area you would never see unless you had a specific reason to visit — and yesterday we did.  Our destination was the Warehouse Cafe, a small breakfast and lunch place located on Fifth Street in the corner of one of the rehabbed warehouse buildings.  Its space is very cool, with the charm of old wooden warehouse floors and big windows.  Be sure to check out the great, multi-story staircase just inside the front door that heads straight up into the guts of the building.  To our amazement, the Warehouse Cafe has been quietly serving good food there for 15 years.

You order at the counter from the offerings on a pre-printed menu and a chalkboard, pay up front, and then have a seat until someone on the friendly wait staff brings your order to your table.  I had the Warehouse burger and some piping hot crinkle-cut fries, the UG polished off a reuben, and the BRC enjoyed an Albanian panini.  We all liked our very reasonably priced food and also appreciated the vibe of the Warehouse District, which seems to be home to lots of small firms and start-up businesses with compelling names.

Don’t be surprised if the Warehouse District becomes the next big focus of downtown Columbus development, but be sure to check out the Warehouse Cafe when you are scoping out the real estate.

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The Random Restaurant Tour

I’ve worked for 31 years in downtown Columbus, but there are always new places to discover.  Until we moved to German Village, and I started walking to Main Library from the firm to pick up books after work, I had no reason to walk down the section of State Street between 4th and Grant.  But when I did, I discovered a restaurant called Cafe Illyria.  It looks like it’s been there for a while, but I’d never even heard of it.

Yesterday the Jersey Girl and I checked it out.  As the sign indicates, it’s a breakfast and lunch joint, with a pretty extensive set of lunch options.  (It’s also got a dedicated group of regulars, which is a good sign.) I got a gyro — if you go to a place called Cafe Illyria, you’ve obviously got to try the gyro, right? — and fries and a Diet Coke, and it was really quite good.  Reasonably priced, too.  The JG and I agreed that we’ll be back.

The Cafe Illyria experience also made us wonder:  how many other lunch places that we haven’t tried are within reasonable walking distance?  We don’t know, but the JG and I vowed to go to some new places every now and then.  We’ll call it the Random Restaurant Tour.

Pear Pressure

There a spot along my walk to and from work where a property owner has planted a pear tree in front of his building.  Pear trees often are favorites of landscapers because they tend to grow quickly, and for much of the year it’s a perfectly nice tree.

But here’s the thing — pear trees produce pears.  That’s OK, as long as you pick the pears and consume them, or donate them to the local food bank, or compost them if they aren’t especially tasty.  But you can’t just let the pears fall to the ground unattended.  Pears rot, and rotten fruit smells, and attracts bees and flies, and gets stepped on and smeared all over until the whole sidewalk is a disgusting, reeking, bee-ridden mess that the intrepid walker must approach with grim caution and careful footsteps.  In short, it’s not a pretty sight.  Which raises a question:  why would any business owner want anyone coming to their front door to pass through such an area? 

Pear tree owners need to pick up after themselves.

Hotel LeVeque 

There’s a new hotel in downtown Columbus that’s actually pretty old.  If that sounds confusing, it’s because the LeVeque Building — since the 1920s, the most iconic building in the downtown area — has been rehabbed and converted, in part, into a hotel.  

I went to meetings at the hotel yesterday and today, and they’ve turned this Art Deco masterpiece into a pretty cool hotel.  The fixtures have been cleaned and brightened — allowing nifty Art Deco touches, like elevators with names like “health” and “prosperity,” to shine through.  The lobby area (shown below) is open and airy, and there’s a nice second-floor bar, too.  I spoke to someone who was staying at the hotel, and he said the guest rooms are great.

This is another nice step forward for downtown Columbus.  Every town needs cool hotels in the core area.

No Crawl On My Walk

I regret to report to everyone that, for the last few days, there has been no crawl on my walk into work.

I’m referring to the news crawl on the front of the Dispatch building, of course.  I’ve come to rely on it for my news blurbs in the morning, so I can feel that I’m at least somewhat informed when I arrive at the office.  And I’ve come to to look forward to the bullet-point format and phrasing of the crawl, too.  

ANOTHER SHOOTING ON NEAR EAST SIDE . . . . TRUMP ANTICS MYSTIFY EUROPE . . . . THREE-LEGGED FROG DAZZLES FAIRGOERS . . . . 17 RECIPES FOR SUMMER PORK . . . . FLYING CARS MAY BE JUST AROUND CORNER . . . .

The crawl always seems to feature incredibly provocative stuff, presented in the most cryptic style.  You’re never really sure what the news is, but it sure sounds interesting.

But now the crawl has gone dark, and with it, my morning mood.  Come back, crawl!

Handy Signage

For months, they’ve been refurbishing Pearl Alley, which runs between, and parallel to, Broad Street and Gay Street in downtown Columbus.  The goal is to spiff it up for the farmers’ market and other events that often are held there.  The alley has been pretty torn up as they’ve put in new light fixtures and probably made some less visible modifications, but it looks like they’re finally done — with work capped by this new sign at the Third Street entrance to the alley that I noticed for the first time on my walk home tonight.

It’s kind of a weird sign, but at least it’s got some symbolism going for it.  The hand is extending what appears to be a giant pearl — get it? — and the tattoo on the bicep of the arm reads “Lynn,” which just happens to be the name of the alley that intersects Pearl Alley halfway between High Street and Third Street.  Pretty clever!

The Pearl Alley project was a pain for those of us working in the neighborhood, but I’m glad they did it.  Pearl Alley is used frequently, and if you want to encourage people to come downtown and even move downtown, nice urban spaces have to be part of the attraction.  The Pearl Alley project has been another step in the process.

Pride Time

It’s the day of the annual Columbus Pride Parade.  The parade hasn’t started yet, but the area around High Street in downtown Columbus is jammed with happy, cheering, rainbow-clad people.

Columbus is known for being open and friendly to everyone — which is one of the great things about our fair city.  Those in the retail industry love the Pride Parade, because it brings people downtown who are interested in buying just about any rainbow-hued item.  The street vendors with their carts are having a field day.