Italian cafe downtown chooses to stay, expand
On the eve of his 20th anniversary in downtown Columbus, Palmo Aracri was looking at two options: relocating his restaurant or renovating it.
He chose the latter and so far it seems to have been a smart move.
The owner of Cafe Napolitana has slapped a fresh coat of paint on the walls, expanded hours and got a license to sell beer.
“You just can’t do it at lunch,” said Aracri, who owns the pizzeria with his wife, Deanne. “You need more hours.”
Cafe Napolitana, which seats 125, is in a deceivingly large but narrow 3,200-square-foot space at 40 N. High St.
Its reputation was built on New York-style pizza, sold by the slice and whole pie, and other American-Italian classics.
Mr. Aracri has created a separate dinner menu with dishes such as chicken Parmesan, chicken Alfredo, caprese salad and a rustic sausage appetizer with peppers and slice of bread. By-the-slice pizza isn’t available at night.
There are five beers on tap, as well as a dozen by the bottle.
“To be honest with you, I feel like I just opened the place,” Aracri said, adding he plans to get a wine and liquor license down the road.
Since opening in 1992, Aracri has looked at downtown as one big rollercoaster ride, a steady ebb and flow of vacancies and rebirth.
Momentum would build and then lose traction. Nearly all of the fast food stores have closed.
And then the recession hit.
But there have been signs of progress, too: more sit-down restaurants open at night, revitalization of the corner of Broad and High streets (he’s just north of the intersection) and the creation of Columbus Commons, the park that replaced City Center Mall.
While lamenting that 80 percent of his business is from out-of-towners, he still has faith that downtown will continue to grow.
By expanding his hours just a few short months ago, he’s seen his business increase by 40 percent.
“Now, people are looking for businesses that are open downtown,” he said. “People are coming to you.”
The place is open for lunch and dinner hours six days a week. It is closed Sunday. For more information, call 614-224-3013.