COLUMBIA — Every Wednesday evening, 26-year-old Zach Gerding used to go to The Pasta Factory with his friends. What began as a gathering at various bars and restaurants downtown became a tradition at the downtown restaurant two years ago.
But they recently had their last get-together at The Pasta Factory before it prepares to move from its location on East Broadway at Hitt Street to one further west on Broadway. It has been downtown for 24 years.
“It’s going to be hard times for a while — till we find a new spot,” Gerding said with some humor about the situation. He'll miss his favorite menu item, the cheese soup.
The restaurant’s move is part of a recent shuffling of restaurants downtown. The following roundup is a look at several changes, but if you want to talk about places we didn't include, please go ahead and post them in the Comments section below the article.
Future location: 3103 W. Broadway, Suite 109
Future hours: 11 a.m.to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.to 10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday.
Description: "A casual, Italian family restaurant," owner Jenny Dubinski said.
The restaurant is moving to West Broadway in the Fairview Marketplace, across from Hy-Vee. It closed officially March 6 and plans to reopen the last week of March or first week of April, Dubinski said.
The Pasta Factory’s new location will try to capture the feel of its downtown incarnation — brick walls to give the restaurant character are already up, Dubinski said. The booths, stained glass, fans, bar, wine rack and glass partitions from the downtown location will make the journey west.
Dubinski and her husband decided to relocate after their lease ran out in March, and Dubinski sees benefits in its new location. She said the new spot on West Broadway will reintroduce the restaurant to a different area of Columbia.
“We’re hoping to really draw in families — come into a place that’s really casual, relaxed, affordable, people looking to have a good time,” she said.
The Pasta Factory will offer delivery service, which Dubinski thinks will be good business for the restaurant.
Although this will be the third location for The Pasta Factory, the restaurant will remain on Broadway as it has since 1976. For 10 years before moving downtown, it was on the northwest corner of West Broadway and Stadium Boulevard. Dubinski said she likes that the restaurant will stay on Broadway.
“We’ll miss downtown. We’ll miss this building," she acknowledged. "It’s a neat building."
Future address: 26 S. Ninth St.
Future hours: Not yet set
Description: "A casual café," owner Mohamed Gumati said.
International Café, which used to be at 209 Hitt St., is moving to Ninth Street between Lakota Coffee Co. and The Main Squeeze. Gumati, who owns International Café along with his wife, Elizabeth, said he hopes the restaurant will reopen around mid-April. Gumati, who is from Libya, has been caught up following the conflicts there and trying to stay in touch with friends and family.
Although Gumati looks forward to reopening his restaurant, he said there are mixed feelings as well: “You get excited," he said, "then you come back to the hard work again.”
Address: 929 E. Broadway
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday, bar open until 1 a.m.; noon to 9 p.m. Sunday
Description: An Italian restaurant that serves a variety of food and offers carry-out.
Previously at 203 Hitt St. next to International Café, Bambino’s Italian Café reopened on the first of the year at 929 E. Broadway. Both Bambino’s and International Café relocated because their leases were discontinued by the UM System Board of Curators.
Although Bambino's owner Jeff Weaver did not make his restaurant’s move to Broadway voluntarily, he said the switch has ended up being an “overwhelmingly positive” one.
“It’s been a blessing in disguise,” Weaver said. “We have a much better location and much better exposure. We get a lot more walk-in traffic being right off Broadway, that’s for sure.”
Address: 700 E. Broadway
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday; 4 to 11 p.m. Saturday; 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday
Description: "Good Italian food for a fair price," owner Anthony Willenborg said.
Anthony’s Italian restaurant is new in downtown Columbia and located at the southeast corner of Seventh Street and Broadway. It opened Dec. 15 in the property previously occupied by Fellini.
Willenborg said though the restaurant was off to a slow start, things are picking up. “We’ve come a long way in the past two months,” he said.
Now, he said, when he mentions his restaurant to people, they are more likely to have heard of it.
Willenborg hopes for more stability. “Ideally, I want my regulars to multiply,” he said. “I want to build more of a family environment. It’s definitely casual.”
Although Columbia is home to several Italian restaurants, Willenborg said part of what distinguishes Anthony’s is its sweet authentic Italian sauce and deep-dish pizza style.
Willenborg, who is from Illinois, stumbled upon the location while visiting a friend in Columbia. “I just really fell in love with downtown,” he said.
Willenborg said his location is far enough from the heart of downtown that it gives customers more parking options. Anthony's also offers delivery service.
Other restaurant changes include the addition of Saigon Bistro at 912 E. Broadway, a Vietnamese bistro. The restaurant opened Nov. 15 and has been doing well, manager Jenny Lam said.
Also new on Broadway is Red Mango, a frozen yogurt shop that opened at 1009 E. Broadway on Dec. 10. This is the first Red Mango in Columbia, though the shop has locations in St. Louis and Kansas City as well.