The Market closing downtown after 15 years of serving seafood, to look for new home

After 15 years in business — the last four in downtown Columbus — The Market Seafood Grill is closing its doors Saturday night to regroup and find another location in the city.

“We’re not closing the doors forever. We’re just searching for a better location,” general manager Jeremy Carter said Friday. “This was the opportunity for us to get out of the lease. This building is just a little too large.”

The restaurant at 1039 1st Ave. has about 120 seats, which is 50 to 60 seats too many, said Carter.

“If I have 40 people in here eating dinner, it still looks sparse, and there’s just not enough energy. It’s so spread out,” he said.

The GM explained that the seafood eatery is open to landing anywhere in the city. He had no timeline for when The Market might surface again on the culinary scene.

Before coming to its current location, it operated as a restaurant and a retail seafood store on 17th Avenue, just off Manchester Expressway and down the street from St. Francis Hospital. Customers there enjoyed the fact that they could bring their own beer and wine with them since the restaurant was grandfathered in to the city’s blue laws prohibiting brown-bagging alcohol.

After arriving downtown, within walking distance of the Springer Opera House and the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts, The Market became known for more upscale fare that had residents dining there more on special days than making it a regular haunt.

“We’re looking to get back to where you don’t feel like you’ve got to get dressed up and make it a date night to come see us and have good food and a good time,” Carter said.

The focus, he said, will be putting that “fine dining” perception behind the restaurant. There also are plans to add more non-seafood items to the menu at the new location to attract more people. And there is a goal of lowering menu prices, conceded the general manager.

“We’re just trying to find the right place to be in this economy. That is a part of it,” Carter said. “We need to get somewhere where we can get our prices lowered for our customers. And we can’t do that in this beautiful, but fairly expensive, building that we’re in.”

That leaves The Market and it’s 20 employees turning out the lights on First Avenue after dinner Saturday. Carter mentioned that he had plenty of calls Friday to the restaurant and Facebook fans expressing sadness about the closing. The feedback has helped, he said.

“It’s actually changed my whole mood from kind of feeling somber to feeling like we did something good here,” he said. “We need to find a way and a place to begin again and keep on doing it.”