New restaurant to bring a California flair to downtown Columbus

Frank Foley IV looks over plans this week for new downtown Columbus restaurant at 1232 Broadway.
Frank Foley IV looks over plans this week for new downtown Columbus restaurant at 1232 Broadway.

The name of a new downtown Columbus restaurant will offer a nod to the city’s rich history.

The restaurant, which plans to open in November at 1232 Broadway in a newly renovated building, will be called River & Rail.

“I felt if it wasn’t for the river — the Chattahoochee, obviously — and if it wasn’t for the railway system we have here, Columbus wouldn’t be what it is,” said Frank Foley IV, who is opening the business with his wife, Leah.

Foley moved back to Columbus more than a year ago with the intention of opening a downtown restaurant. He is leasing a 4,500-square-foot building in the emerging 1200 block of Broadway. The building is owned by Foley’s cousin, Chris Woodruff.

“It took Chris about a year from when I moved back until this place was ready for me to come in and say, ‘OK, now it is my turn to hire contractors and architects,’” Foley said.

Work is underway to turn the shell into a trendy downtown establishment. Foley has hired a general manager and plans to have a staff of about 30 by the time it opens.

He refuses to put the food in a category, only calling it “California fusion.”

“The food concept is going to be small plates, and when I say small plates, a lot of people are going to think Spanish tapas, but it is really not going to be Spanish influenced at all,” Foley said.

The concept will be for those dining together to share dishes. The restaurant will also offer craft cocktails.

“One word I have been using is communal dining, but I don’t want it to come across as a bunch of hippies on park benches and you share your food with strangers,” Foley said. “One of the reasons I chose this concept is to get away from the couple or the single person going out and ordering a steak and you sit there and plow through your food, don’t say a word and you are on your phone the whole time. We are trying to make dining more of an experience.”

Foley has previously owned two restaurants in the Studio City area of Los Angeles. Spoonful, a Southern cuisine restaurant, was named by one of the top two new restaurants in Los Angeles in 2012.

“When we opened Spoonful, we were able to bring the flavor of the South to California, and now we are looking forward to bringing the flare of California to the South,” Leah Foley said.

The restaurant will offer a Sunday brunch, Leah Foley said.

The building that Woodruff renovated has a unique feature, a large courtyard on the back side. That courtyard was created when a part of the structure that was damaged by fire had to be removed.

“The courtyard will be Columbus’ only outdoor dining room,” Foley said. “Other places have porches and patios, but this is a full courtyard area. And, seasonally speaking, it will be the preferred area to sit in.”

It will be the second new restaurant to open in the 1200 block this year. Nonic, a gastropub, opened just across Broadway earlier this year. That makes four restaurants on the block with more planned.

Chuck Williams: 706-571-8510, @chuckwilliams