COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — There has been an emergence of food halls in Central Ohio recently. Budd Dairy Food Hall in Italian Village and North Market Bridge Park are two that opened in the last year.
Now, a new one is opening Saturday, in the historic Trolley district. It’s called the East Market, and it is serving some good eats and serving a need on the near east side.
“This was built in the 1880s. It was the paint shop for the trolley cars. Back then, it was horse-drawn carriages,” said Brad DeHays, the developer of the project.
One-hundred and forty years later, the historic building has been transformed into the East Market, the latest food hall in Central Ohio, just steps away from Franklin Park.
“We used to live over here near Franklin Park. We used to go to one spot to get food a long time ago when we were here and we knew it was a food desert,” said DeHays.
The highlight of the East Market is the food. There are nearly a dozen food stalls with a diverse mix of options, such as fresh cut meat from “The Butcher and Grocer.”
“[Brad] approached me about the idea of this space and I didn’t even let him finish,” said Tony Tanner, owner of “The Butcher and Grocer.” “Like I’m in, 100%. I’m a lifelong Eastsider so growing up on this side of town, I love it over here and this is exactly what this neighborhood needs.”
Also inside, “Creole 2 Geaux,” which serves up New Orleans favorites like shrimp po’ boys and jambalaya.
“And we’re growing as a team. Like everybody who is a part of this, this project in particular, I feel like we’re a family,” said Janvier Ward, co-owner of “Creole 2 Geaux.” “So, it’s been something that I’ve just been waiting for, patiently.”
Not far away from the food hall is “The Railhouse,” the flagship bar, with a whole different vibe.
“We didn’t want it to only feel like a food court, where it feels like a cafeteria vibe,” said DeHays. “We wanted it to be sterile and bright in [the food hall], and then dark in [The Railhouse] so it doesn’t feel weird at 9:00.”
And below “The Railhouse” is a speakeasy called “Switch,” named after the switch gear that would turn the trolley cars around. You’ll even need a password to get inside.
On the top floor, there is a huge dining and event space that can host as many 250 people, with many of the original beams from the trolley barn built more than a century ago.
“That’s the thing that we try to take pride in,” said DeHays. “In these storied buildings, keeping the historic character and integrity. And this event space is just a perfect example of it. A lot to look at. I mean, the amount of planning and detail. There’s so much going on here. It was sort of a coming together of the community.”
East Market will celebrate its grand opening on Saturday, April 30. It opens at 11:00am and will have everything from zoo animals, face painting and more. For a complete list of activities and to find out more about East Market, go to Eastmarketcolumbus.com