A Hills for Downtown

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Downtown dwellers know the drill: Whether it's a gallon of milk or jug of laundry detergent, it's tough to find grocery staples nearby--and the hunt becomes exponentially more challenging after 5 p.m.

No wonder, then, that when Hills Market hosted an October open house about its plans for a Downtown store at North Grant Avenue, near the Neighborhood Launch development, the big question was how late the grocery would stay open. "That was everyone's main concern, that our hours of operation would be long enough to serve their needs," says Matt Brown, who'll be a manager at Hills Market Downtown. "We're going to make sure that if our customers need us to stay open until 9, 10 at night, we're going to be able to do so to make sure we can help them out."

Set to open in the spring, the new store will be parent company Food Works' fifth, joining the near-Worthington flagship and stores in North Linden, Fredericktown and Marengo. The new location is smaller than the flagship--12,000 square feet instead of 17,000--with many fixtures designed to be easily reconfigured.

While it won't have the original store's liquor agency and full-service floral shop, Hills Downtown will have a full-service bakery, coffee shop and deli; local and organic produce; specialty cheeses; a variety of wine and beer; catering; grocery delivery; and signature events such as charity happy hours, cooking classes and wine tastings.

Hills plans to work with neighbor-to-be The Grass Hut, a tiki bar in the vein of Kahiki, the late Columbus landmark. Set to open on Gay Street in the spring, restaurateur Elizabeth Lessner's newest Columbus Food League establishment will serve Polynesian fare amid waterfalls and smoke-spewing volcanoes.

Hills and the Grass Hut plan to cooperate in a number of ways. Hills may sell brown-but-still-tasty bananas to The Grass Hut for cocktails, for example. They may share a cardboard baler, and both may use green hauler Eartha Limited for waste removal. "There's a lot of unique and creative opportunities for the businesses to work together," says Food Works marketing director Jill Moorhead.

Reprinted from the December 2011 issue of Columbus C.E.O. Copyright © Columbus C.E.O.