Dueling kitchen? Chefs will square off at new restaurant opening in downtown Columbus

Team lobster or team steak?

The owner and executive chef of a new restaurant opening soon in downtown Columbus wants you to pick a side. Either way, he wins.

Bryant Walker’s newest venture, Stock Market Dueling Kitchens, is a seafood and steakhouse restaurant at 1232 Broadway. The grand opening is slated for Sept. 6. The name is an amalgamation — a combination of the words stockyard and fish market. While Stock Market’s employees work at the same establishment, they’ll be competing against each other every day.

Members of the kitchen staff, including Walker himself, will be divided into teams every three months to create meat- or fish-centric menus based on their assignment, and the group that sells the most wins. The winners will receive gift card prizes and shout outs posted on social media. The goal is to have a little fun in the kitchen, create a little competition and allow the staff to be innovative, Walker said.

“I always kind of wanted to do a steak and seafood restaurant,” he said. “When I was thinking of the two ideas, it just kind of clicked. ...It’s going to make you want to be better. It’s going to make you want to beat the next (person). Hopefully, it will make the food always be something creative and fun.”

Stock Market will serve the freshest fish, shrimp, lobster, oysters, mussels and crab available. On the stockyard side, you’ll see a variety of beef, pork and chicken. A surf-and-turf special and a vegetarian special will be featured each night. Some dishes will be familiar, and others will be new creations, Walker said.

“We’re gonna have pretty much all the big hitters,” Walker said. “We give you a lot of food.”

The new restaurant will have a soft opening early next week. Hours of operation for Stock Market haven’t been set, Walker said, but the restaurant will be open for dinner with the intention of eventually adding lunch.

Stock Market’s concept differs from Walker’s other restaurant, Wicked Hen, a popular 13th Street spot that serves modern Southern cuisine and brunch, but the price points will be similar.

Stock Market’s theme leans heavily into the city’s financial history, too. Cocktails served at the bar feature names inspired by the stock market and banking. On the walls near the entrance are framed, enlarged stock certificates for companies with Columbus ties like Coca-Cola. A painting near the front door by Columbus artist Katie Jacobson captures the hustle and bustle of busy city life.

“(Columbus) is a really cool banking city anyways with Synovus and TSYS being here,” he said. “It just fit that we could do this stock market/bank theme (too.)”

Walker hopes the growth of downtown Columbus over the past several years will make his newest venture a success.

“There’s just so many people down here that have invested a lot of time and money into turning this area into what it’s becoming,” he said. “I think it’s only going to get better.”

Nick Wooten is the Southern Trends and Culture reporter for McClatchy’s South region. He is based in Columbus, Georgia at the Ledger-Enquirer but his work also appears in The (Macon) Telegraph and The Sun Herald in Biloxi.Before joining McClatchy, he worked for The (Shreveport La.) Times covering city government and investigations. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.