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Independent Columbus Restaurants Fighting Uphill Battle

Small business owners in downtown Columbus say an over-abundance of eateries is making it difficult to keep restaurants open in the area. One person says a lack of diversity of downtown businesses may only be part of the problem.

Kurt Schwarze owns the Fourth Street Bar and Grill and is a member of the Downtown Columbus Independent Restaurant Association. He says while recent upgrades to downtown have made the area more of a nightlife destination, the number of daytime customers has not kept up with the growing restaurant scene.

“As the number of restaurants has grown, I think it has outpaced, a little bit, the growth in the job market downtown,” he says.

Just this week, Fork at 532, a downtown eatery specializing in small-plate cuisine, announced it was closing its doors.

Schwarze says while efforts to give downtown a facelift have helped in the past, he says the Columbus Redevelopment Commission needs to be hands-off going forward.

“The market itself will dictate the number of restaurants that want to move downtown,” he says. “It’s a very desirable place to be because of the development that has taken place, and I don’t think any further subsidy is required.”

Mayor Kristen Brown campaigned on increasing transparency in how the redevelopment commission handles projects, and has recently accused current members of the commission of misconduct regarding Columbus Downtown Inc., a public-private entity that directed much of the downtown revitalization.

Both Brown and members of the redevelopment commission did not return phone calls Tuesday.

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