Mozart's move: 'Dream come true'

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The relocated Mozart's received a warm welcome from the neighborhood last week.

Owner Anand Saha shook dozens of hands and chatted up customers as the Clintonville restaurant celebrated its grand opening July 31, with visits from Columbus dignitaries, local business owners and longtime devotees.

Saha, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Doris, said he was touched by the outpouring of support.

"Dreams do come true," Saha said. "Hard work pays off."

Mozart's has taken over the vacant 11,000-square-foot building at 4784 N. High St. in Clintonville. It's a significant move for the restaurant, which opened in 1995 in the Olentangy Village complex of residential and retail uses.

Mozart's has long been known for its Austro-German desserts and savory dishes, as well as popular American fare and a multitude of coffee drinks.

The business added a frosty element, homemade ice cream, which was part of Vienna Ice Cafe, another Clintonville venture Saha closed in preparation for the move. The plan was to first open the cafe in the new space and bring its full line of ice cream desserts -- terrines, cakes, coffee drinks -- but construction problems forced a delay.

Saha said he intends to add those items in a month or so.

"It's a little too much on my plate," he said.

In addition, Mozart's carries a full line of beer, wine and spirituous liquor, marking a significant turning point in the community's attitudes toward alcohol. Voters in the neighborhood approved two separate measures, one allowing weekday sales and another permitting Sunday sales, on the May primary ballot.

"It was tough, but I think our reputation helped us gain that," he said. "But I think we've opened the doors for others to venture in and take the chance."

Saha originally had intended to keep the original Mozart's open, but another restaurant -- the details of which he would not disclose -- is vying for the storefront.

He lauded the city for helping him through the permit and variance process.

"The city and the businesses can work together," he said. "Here's the proof at Mozart's."

Jackie Gearhart, whose family owned the Beechwold Restaurant in the same space many years ago, returned from her home in Tulsa, Okla., to celebrate Mozart's opening.

Her family opened the restaurant in the 1940s and closed it in the mid-'60s, only to lease the space to another restaurant, the Golden Bowl, which closed in the 1970s.

Since then, it has seen a number of uses, including Azia Oriental Rugs and, most recently, Cord Camera.

Gearhart said she was nostalgic for the place where she spent much time busing tables, washing dishes, cleaning and learning the trade.

"They kept me in a dish cart when I was born," Gearhart said of her parents.

Candy Griffin and Eric Allen, partners in Brothers Drake Meadery on the Near North Side, dropped by the Mozart's grand opening and complimented Saha for his generosity to the community and support of local businesses such as theirs. Mozart's carries two styles of the company's fermented honey drink: "Wild Ohio" and peach.

"It's actually a good move for them," Griffin, a Clintonville resident, said of the new location. "This is exactly what they needed."