Short North Food Hall is trying to provide a solution for a common scenario: A group of friends is making plans for dinner but no one wants the same thing.
This concept caters to everyone's tastes, with five distinct dining concepts, plus an enormous bar, under one roof at 1112 N. High St. in Columbus.
The 200-seat space features Tortilla Mexican Street Food, Legacy Smokehouse, Shokudo Modern Asian Kitchen, Short Grain Sushi and Vinny's Italian.
The food hall is part of Corso Ventures, which includes Standard Hall, Short North Pint House and Forno Kitchen + Bar, all along the same High Street promenade.
Reed Woogerd, president of the central Ohio-based restaurant group, said the stylistic interior is meant to evoke vitality: neon blue light emanating from beneath the winding Amish butcher-block bar, custom metal table frames with thick wooden tops, exposed brick, lacquered cement floor and a simple blue-and-white color scheme.
Some establishments occasionally greet customers with free popcorn; Short North Food Hall offers fresh-spun cotton candy.
"(Customers) want to feel the excitement and the energy of this young, vibrant city," Woogerd said.
The counter-order food concepts, each locally owned, are positioned toward the back of the storefront.
All vendors are on open-ended leases and free to leave when they want, Woogerd said. Replacements are on deck, he said.
Woogerd said Corso Ventures wanted to find the right mix of vendors, each offering diverse, quality and affordable dishes.
Most individual items are $12 and under.
Some of the barbecue dishes can cost a little more, up to $24 for a full rack of baby-back ribs.
Vince Martin, the corporate chef for Corso Ventures, owns Vinny's Italian, which serves homemade pizza by the slice.
Pies are made with hand-kneaded dough (no mixers or machines) and scratch sauce created with San Marzano tomatoes.
The rest of the menu features meatballs, subs and salads.
"We're going old school with this," Martin said.
The food hall has a few special features.
On Sunday nights, purveyors collaborate to create weekly fusion items. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, they create special brunch menus.
Meanwhile, its full bar has plenty of cocktails, some bottled on premises, plus a multitude of craft and macro brews and wine.
Woogerd said Corso Ventures is planning a rooftop patio at the spot, something that is under consideration by the Italian Village Commission, the local architectural-review board.
The plan is to add 3,000 square feet, 100 seats and another food option.
The whole point of the Short North Food Hall was to create an experience for people seeking something casual and fun, Woogerd said.
"It kind of feels like a French bistro -- if that French bistro was 8,000 square feet," he said.
Dining hours are 3 to 11 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays through Sundays and closed Mondays.
L. Ginger Asian Fusion & Hibachi will replace Lee's China Kitchen at 65 E. State St. in downtown Columbus.
An early May opening is planned for L. Ginger, which will offer a "build-your-own" hibachi meal in which customers choose their own ingredients, tentatively priced at $10 per pound, to be cooked on a large teppanyaki grill in the kitchen.
Other Asian dishes, including popular American-Chinese entrees and fusion items, will be available, said owner Joe Lin, owner of Blue Ginger Asian Fusion Bistro on Sawmill Road.
No sushi is on the menu, however, Lin said.
The dining room will seat 80.