COLUMBIA — Downtown Columbia will take on new look this spring, as four new restaurants and a pool hall replace old businesses.
Carrie Gartner, director of the Special Business District and Downtown Columbia Association, said the changes are part of the regular flow of business downtown, where economic development brings in new businesses quickly as the old ones leave.
She said she disagrees with the idea that the smoking ban was to blame for the closure of old businesses, attributing the closures instead to multiple factors including retirement and switches among business owners.
“I think certainly downtown is a vital part of the city’s economic picture. People want to be part of downtown because they believe in their ability to succeed,” said Don Laird, president of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce. He said he hopes these new businesses will successfully provide the products and services that are desired by Columbians.
Bengal Bar & Grill
On Sixth and Elm streets, the previous site of Shiloh Bar & Grill is changing into Bengal Bar & Grill, a restaurant expected to open in mid-February.
For Jack Rader, a commercial contractor, and his wife Julie it will be their first time running a restaurant on their property. The Raders own the property at Sixth and Elm streets.
The Raders have been thinking about opening their own business for a year. When their lease with Shiloh ended last year, they decided not to renew the lease, but instead decided to take a shot at opening their own restaurant.
Julie Rader said she’s not worried about competition and recent news of restaurant closures downtown.
“We have long-standing tradition with Tiger fans,” Julie Rader said. “And we want to create a trendy sports bar with a casual, fun environment, quality food and good service to maintain the tradition.”
When Shiloh was located at the site, it attracted a mixed crowd of local businessman and college students, and Rader hopes Bengal Bar & Grill will draw more customers by bringing a whole new look to the restaurant with multiple flat-screen TVs, special food items and good prices.
The Rader’s children, Katie, 23, and Jay, 21, have worked at Shiloh for several years and will operate the business with a senior manager.
Billiards on Broadway
With 13 pool tables in a 4,800-square-foot hall, Billiards on Broadway is expected to open to Columbia’s pool community in mid-February.
Owner Les Wagner said he started thinking about opening a new billiard hall when Phil and Maggie Spudich closed Columbia Billiards on Ninth Street and Rack & Roll Billiards on Providence last summer.
“The whole pool community was shocked when Columbia Billiards and Rack & Roll Billiards were closed,” he said. “Columbia has a large community to play pool, and they want good equipment, atmosphere, first-name hospitality and good food.”
Wagner’s wife, Molly, and his son, Boone, will assist in the daily management of the billiards hall along with manager Colin McKinzie.
The Spudichs are the Wagner’s long-time family friends and have helped them build the new billiards hall.
“Phil and Maggie did a lot of things right (with their billiards hall), and we will continue to do what they did right,” Wagner said.
One of the things he wishes to continue is the “same great burger with ground chuck, ham-padded, made in the front of the customer to their liking.”
But he said he will also add ideas of his own to the hall, such as organizing leagues for players.
Final permission for the construction of Bleu, a new wine bar and eatery planned for inside the Tiger Hotel, will probably come Friday, and construction would start next week, said Travis Tucker, co-owner of Bleu.
Tucker started planning the wine bar with his partner, Tina Patel, last March. Both are former employees of the University Club.
Tucker said the wine bar would have a contemporary atmosphere and casual elegance. “It’s more urban. Generally a lot of people coming from other areas are living close to the university. They like to have this kind of big-city atmosphere.”
The wine bar would have wine on tap, a chef’s table, a granite-top bar and a private dining area in a space that could fit 100 people.
“We would have a tapas-style menu,” Tucker said. “The idea is when people come in for one entree, they can enjoy a variety of flavors without having to buy multiple entrees.”
Tucker thinks Bleu will stand out by offering as many as 19 wines on tap, with other varieties available by the glass and by the bottle.
“I think people from Columbia have a refined palate for wine. They enjoy and know the nice wine,” he said.
Bleu will be providing food for Blue Note’s Magic of The Movies 2008 on Feb. 24.
Shiloh Bar & Grill
Owner Tom Atkinson said he hopes Shiloh Bar & Grill will re-open on March 1 with 5,900 square feet of space inside and a large patio facing Broadway.
Atkinson said he’s glad to move into the historical building where the MKT Railroad Station once was. Construction has been taking place inside the building, and Atkinson is busy working with contractors on the design features.
Shiloh’s food menu will expand, he said, with a wider price range.
Atkinson said Shiloh will continue to be a sports bar with a warm ambience to provide a gathering place for the community. Shiloh has been associated closely with MU football and basketball, and it will continue to have TV screens in the dining room to appeal to sports fans.
Smokin’ Chick’s BBQ
In a few weeks, barbecued ribs and pulled pork will show up at Smokin’ Chick’s BBQ’s new spot on 22 N. Ninth St., across from the Blue Note. Another Smokin’ Chick’s is located on 4603 John Garry Dr., near Southhampton Drive.
“We recognize the need and find the niche,” owner Lissa Orscheln said. The new restaurant, which has been planned for three months, will have the same menu as the present site, she said.
Depending on how late Blue Note concerts last, Orscheln is considering extending hours during weekends to embrace the vibrant downtown environment.
The Orscheln family began running the franchise of Breadeaux Pizza in Columbia and Moberly in 1997 and kept it for five years. Three years ago, they opened a Smokin’ Chick’s BBQ in the Columbia Mall and later moved it to John Garry Drive.
Matt Badalament, restaurant manager, said he was excited about the new location at the center of downtown events. Last year, the restaurant pulled a concession trailer of smoked meat to join in festivals such as Roots ‘N’ Blues ‘N’ BBQ.
The 22 N. Ninth St. spot used to be occupied by Cucina Sorella, an Itallian restaurant owned by Rocky and Cheryl Galloway. The restaurant closed after the pair closed Trattoria Strada Nova across the street.