COLUMBUS, Ohio (COLUMBUS BUSINESS FIRST)– Giant Eagle has closed its Bexley restaurant.

When the Pittsburgh-based grocery chain opened its Market District Express concept at 2242 E. Main St. in 2016, it did so with a full sit-down restaurant and bar on its second floor.

Market District Kitchen & Bar is the latest dining casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic as the company has shuttered that operation and will put that space to a different use.

“It has been our pleasure to serve Bexley and the surrounding communities at Market District Kitchen & Bar since the Market District Express opened its doors,” the company said in a statement. “Since that time, there have been significant shifts in consumer shopping and dining interests that have led us to close the in-store restaurant.”

Giant Eagle has not yet said what it will be doing with the 4,000-square-foot space. Including its outdoor patio seating, it could accommodate more than 150 diners.

“We are currently exploring opportunities to use the former restaurant space to enhance the shopping experience and better serve our guests,” the company said.

Prepared food remains an important part of the sales mix for grocers, even if it might not take the form of a traditional restaurant as Giant Eagle attempted in Bexley. Kroger is experimenting with ghost kitchen-style operators as another example.

The restaurant first was called Table by Market District but renamed in 2018 to Market District Kitchen & Bar after it was sued by the Short North restaurant The Table. (That restaurant also closed amid the pandemic.) The initial menu included items like a roasted beet salad with feta cheese and a lemon dressing, queso and ale dip with Bavarian pretzels and a knife-and-fork meatloaf with mashed potatoes and crispy onion straws.

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