Food News: High Bank to add a Gahanna location; Rockmill Tavern pivots to pizza

Restaurant openings, closings and more Central Ohio food and drink news

Erin Edwards
A rendering of High Bank's Gahanna location, expected to open in spring 2022.

Distillery News

High Bank Distillery Co. announced yesterday that it plans to open a second location next spring in the Gahanna/New Albany area. Located in a distinctive white barn building at 1379 E. Johnstown Road, the new venue will feature a 7,500-square-foot restaurant and full-service bar, plus barrel storage, an expansive outdoor patio and retail store. There will be limited production at the new facility, which is located next to Donatos and across the street from Cameron Mitchell’s The Barn at Rocky Fork Creek. 

“We don’t want to do a cookie-cutter, carbon-copy of our first location,” said High Bank’s president and co-founder Jordan Helman in a phone interview. The Gahanna location will draw inspiration from the barn building and have a slightly more upscale feel. “As a current resident of New Albany, I just think there’s a ton of opportunity for more high-quality, elevated food and beverage concepts,” he said.

One thing High Bank doesn’t intend to change is the wide-open, indoor/outdoor feel found at its original 1051 Goodale Blvd. location. “One of the things we always hear is how much [customers] love how open it is, the high ceilings,” Helman said. “We really try to think about the comfort of the guests, the ability to move around. … The garage doors are something we’re going to repeat at this location." 

The Grandview-based distillery and restaurant was doing great business before the pandemic, Helman said. When the shutdown occurred in March 2020, the distillery pivoted to making hand sanitizer for the general public, as well as first responders. “We feel that if can survive that, we can survive anything,” he said, adding that the time is right to grow the business despite the ongoing pandemic.  

“The market’s kind of soft right now,” he said. “This is a good opportunity to try to find a deal that makes sense for the landlord but also makes sense for our business. Two years from now, once everything is recovered, we might not find the same opportunities.” 

Other Openings & Announcements

Closed since May, Rockmill Tavern (503 S. Front St.) reopens its doors today (Thursday, Sept. 30) as a new concept from Matthew Barbee’s Rockmill Brewery. Bandit: Pizzas and Pairings by Rockmill will specialize in artisan pizzas meant to pair with wine and the brewery’s beer. Bandit will be open for takeout from 4-9 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday. Although the dining room is currently under renovation, customers are invited to enjoy happy hour drinks while they wait for their pizza. An extension of Barbee’s scenic Lancaster brewery, Rockmill Tavern originally opened in 2016 in the Brewery District. In 2017 and 2018, under the leadership of former executive chef Andrew Smith, the restaurant claimed a spot on Columbus Monthly’s 10 Best Restaurants list. "Our team has been amazing through this tough time of transition and are excited to reconnect with our friends in the community,” Barbee said in a press release. “It’s good to be back.” Pizzas range from the Priceless Heirloom (featuring Columbus’ own Ezzo pepperoni) to the Six Shooter (Thai-inspired pie with chicken, paneer and spicy coconut sauce). Visit RockmillBandit.com to place an order. 

A new Vietnamese restaurant called Pho Thanh has filled 4568 Cemetery Road, the former Kabob Shack space in Hilliard. The eatery offers beef pho, a variety of banh mi, rice and noodle dishes, Vietnamese coffee and smoothies. In addition, the restaurant serves seafood boil specials on the weekend. Check out the Pho Thanh menu here

Sharetea, a bubble tea shop founded in Taiwan in 1992, has landed in Central Ohio. The new shop, coming soon to 2752 Festival Lane in Dublin, offers a wide variety of fruit teas, milk teas and brewed teas with toppings such as tapioca pearls, ice cream, red beans, lychee jelly and more. 

Events

In case you missed it, the Arena District Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) is now in effect, meaning that you can purchase alcoholic beverages to-go from participating locations during certain events. Drinks are served in a special DORA cup and must be consumed within the DORA boundaries. The DORA is activated three hours prior to all Blue Jackets, Crew and Clippers games until midnight and during Arena District special events.