The Columbus market, which has experienced a surge in new places to eat this year, appears destined to have even more on its plate.
The food offerings also come with a few new retail outlets on the way and another hotel that is now accepting reservations in the Bradley Park area.
Already in the works is a Wingstop restaurant at 2528 Weems in a portion of what used to be Bavarian House, an eatery that served up bratwurst, schnitzel and spätzle noodles before closing several months ago.
Wingstop, which is being franchised by Bruster's Real Ice Cream operator Ed Miller and his wife, Marie, is shooting for an Oct. 24 opening, with 42 interior seats and 20 to 30 patio seats outside. Work on the interior is under way, with equipment scheduled to arrive soon. It will employ 20.
"Everything's made fresh in house," Miller said. "We make our baked beans, cole slaw, potato salad. We make our own ranch dressing, bleu cheese dressing, fresh-cut French fries that are outstanding, and our wings, which are fresh, never frozen."
Wingstop is locating next to another new entrant to the market, The Egg & I, a breakfast specialist that also serves sandwiches for lunch. It should open by December.
"They're breakfast-lunch, and we're lunch-dinner, so it'll be a good combination," said Miller, who has committed to doing two Wingstop's locally.
Another newbie to Columbus, but not the Chattahoochee Valley area, will be Chicken Salad Chick. It will serve a variety of creative chicken salad spreads, along with more typical sandwich fare, such as turkey, ham, roast beef and pimento cheese.
Chicken Salad Chick will open in early to mid-October at The Landings, 2511 Airport Thruway, with franchise owner Tiffany Dubberley expected to open three in all in the local area within the next year, according to the company, which is headquartered in Auburn, Ala., and owned by husband and wife team Kevin and Stacy Brown. There already are three locations in the Auburn and Opelika area.
Falling into the category of having just opened, but only two weeks ago, is Ready Steak Go, another restaurant by chef Mark Jones, owner of Hunter's Pub, The Black Cow, Mark's City Grill and Philly-osophy.
Located at 1790 Williams Road, in space attached to a Shell convenience store across from the Georgia Welcome Center, the 20-seat eatery is determined to serve up non-fast food any way you want it.
"Some people say it's the best food you can get in a gas station," said Larry French, a food sales representative with Ready Steak Go. "It's a unique concept in the sense that you can dine in, you can call ahead and have it ready, you can call in and take it with you, and we also have a drive-thru window ... and then we also are doing delivery."
The menu, French said, includes ribeye, filet and strip steaks, chicken, wings, pork chops, steak and chicken tips, grilled salmon and grilled shrimp, hamburgers, pasta and cheese garlic penne noodles.
Those restaurants are hitting the market on the heels of recent debuts by Butler's Cabin at 6060 Veterans Parkway and Hibachi Grill Supreme Buffet, on the upper level of Cross Country Plaza on Auburn Avenue.
Butler's Cabin is a golf-themed eatery -- sharing the name of the famed Masters golf venue in Augusta, Ga. -- that includes a small putting green out front.
If the location escapes you, it has had several tenants, most recently The Big Catch and more prominently, The Garlic Clove, which served Italian food there for several years before shutting its doors.
Hibachi Grill has gotten off to a strong start since opening several weeks ago, said Leo Wiener, a partner in Glenwood Development, which owns Cross Country Plaza.
"They're thrilled with how this one's performing," said Wiener of the owners, who now have about 50 locations under their belts. "Hopefully the honeymoon lasts a lot longer. The way the parking lot has been filled, it's a good sign and much needed help on that upper level getting traffic up there."
For Wiener, the next major step for Cross Country, which underwent a $10 million renovation that was completed this year, is the opening of the T.J. Maxx. The retailer, which is relocating from a smaller center just east of Cross Country Plaza off Macon Road, will fill about 25,000 square feet of the former Publix supermarket. That grocery store moved into a new, larger spot in the center last December.
"We're in the process of turning the space over to T.J. Maxx and they've started upfitting. This has all happened in the last two days," Wiener said Friday. "The expectation is they should be open by the middle to the end of October. I think they're shooting for Oct. 20."
A Dunkin Donuts and Baskin Robins combination outlet fronting Cross Country -- adjacent to AT&T Wireless and a Wells Fargo bank -- is moving forward and should be open in about six weeks, Wiener said. Great Clips also has opened already on the lower level.
"We're still in negotiations with a couple of more tenants," he said. "We'll see how that progresses. If we can't get them open before Christmas, it'll be spring openings."
At Peachtree Mall, meanwhile, there have been several retail additions this year, with more on the way, said Chris McCoy, general manager of the Manchester Expressway indoor shopping center.
"So far this year we have added Torrid, Decibel, P.S. from Aeropostale, and Best Buy Mobile is coming," he said in a recent email. No timeline was available for the opening of the Best Buy outlet.
The typical Best Buy big-box electronics store is located next to the mall.
Finally, on the lodging front, Columbus has added a new brand, with a Home2 Suites by Hilton up and running at 1664 Whittlesey Road in the Bradley Park area.
It is next to Rivertown Ford.
The 81-suite property, which will employ up to 20, is geared toward those desiring an extended stay.
It is being managed by RAM Hotel Management, a Columbus-based company that also oversees the Hampton Inn & Suites and Days Inn in Phenix City, as well as Country Inn & Suites (Bradley Park), Microtel Inn & Suites and the downtown Econo Lodge in Columbus.
"It will take awhile to get it ramped up, but the response as far as the property, people love it. There's nothing like this in Columbus," Matt Patel, vice president of operations with RAM, said of the Columbus Home2 Suites, which has an average daily rate of $109. Home2 Suites is a new brand for the Hilton hotel chain.