The Owners of Chapman’s Eat Market and Ginger Rabbit are Opening a Third Concept
Chef BJ Lieberman and his wife, Bronwyn Haines, are teaming up with the Wood Cos. to open a live-fire restaurant in the Short North.
It’s no secret: Chapman’s Eat Market is a hard dinner seat to secure ever since the New York Times named it one of the nation’s “50 most vibrant and delicious restaurants" of 2021. Chapman’s fans will soon have another opportunity to experience chef BJ Lieberman and Co.’s food, though it will be a significant departure from the German Village restaurant.
In an interview last week, Lieberman and his wife, Bronwyn Haines, announced they are opening a 5,000-square-foot, fine-dining restaurant and bar centered around a wood-burning hearth and smoke-kissed fare. The two-level restaurant, Hiraeth, begins construction next month at 36 E. Lincoln St., just a short walk from the couple’s most recent venture: Ginger Rabbit Jazz Lounge. Hiraeth is a Welsh word that loosely means a longing or homesickness—even for a place you’ve never been before.
“It's like you walk into a place and you get a feeling like you belong here, or it makes you long for something that you never even knew you wanted,” Lieberman explains. “We want to create a space that is different from anything that anyone's experienced, something that you'll be longing for the moment that you leave. But also, whenever you're there, [you think] ‘I found whatever piece of [me] is missing.’ We want to be that for people.”
Just don’t expect Welsh food. Based on the description alone—a wood-burning kitchen celebrating Mediterranean, Israeli, North African and even French cuisines—there's nothing quite like Hiraeth in Columbus. (Though a wood-fired restaurant, Fyr, is forthcoming at the under-construction Hilton Downtown Columbus expansion.) Two of the restaurants providing inspiration include the award-winning Israeli restaurant Zahav in Philadelphia, Haines says, and Roister, the Alinea Group’s hearth-focused restaurant in Chicago.
“I worked at [chef Sean Brock’s] Husk. Everything that we did there was wood fired. So, I'm familiar with that cooking technique. And it's very different than what we do at Chapman's, which is awesome to have variety in what we do,” Lieberman says.
The Wood Cos. had already outfitted the restaurant's kitchen space for live-fire cooking, which was a big draw, Lieberman says. In addition, the building is adjacent to a 255-space parking garage at the corner of Pearl and Lincoln. The street-level portion of Hiraeth will feature 1,500 square feet for a small dining room and bar. "There's going to be a small passageway, and it takes you down a set of stairs to the basement,” Lieberman says, “and that's like [3,500] square feet down there” that will include the kitchen, another dining room and an intimate bar.
The centerpiece of the kitchen will be a 10-foot-by-3-foot hearth--what Lieberman describes as “an erector set” of grills and smoke boxes--that’s being built by Grills by Demant in Atlanta, a chef-favorite maker of grilling/smoking equipment. (Brock, Lieberman’s one-time boss at both McCrady's and Husk in Charleston, has a custom Grills by Demant grill at his new Nashville restaurant, Audrey.)
Lieberman and Haines will once again work with Mike Grady and Ben Lebel with Sister East Design, the company that handled interior design for Chapman’s and Ginger Rabbit. Whereas those first two businesses carry a consistent look, Hiraeth’s design will be very different and more modern, Haines says. Hiraeth will also offer more seating than Chapman’s but with more space between tables.
The restaurant’s bar program will be overseen by Seth Laufman, a past Coumbus Monthly Tastemaker and the beverage director at Chapman’s and Ginger Rabbit. “We haven't made any final decisions, but we've kicked around the idea of focusing on spirits that require fire in their process somewhere, like agave, scotch, barrel-aged things,” Lieberman said in a follow-up email. “Smoke can be subtle, and it can be in your face; we are excited to play with all of the expressions of fire and smoke. We won't be able to really R&D the food and beverage menu until the hearth is installed and usable, so we are holding off on making any predictions of what the menu could or will actually be. We're gonna ‘do it live’ as they say.”