Food News: Rockmill’s Bandit restaurant to permanently close; Café Overlook opens

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

Erin Edwards
Bandit Pizza & Pairings by Rockmill (503 S. Front St.), which got its start as Rockmill Tavern in 2016, will close permanently April 23.

Openings & Announcements 

The new Franklin County courthouse cafeteria, Café Overlook, makes its debut today. The social enterprise, located on the 16th floor, is run by Service! Relief for Hospitality Workers, a nonprofit founded in the early days of the pandemic. Chef Sangeeta Lakhani (formerly of The Table), chef Matthew Heaggans (of Preston’s: A Burger Joint) and Letha Pugh (co-founder of Bake Me Happy) are behind the effort. Serving breakfast and lunch, Café Overlook will function as a training ground for future service industry employees and a business incubator, thanks to a unique public/private partnership with Franklin County. 

Los Guachos Taqueria reopened in its new Gahanna digs on Wednesday. Located not far from its previous Gahanna location at 1376 Cherry Bottom Road, the new space at 1344 Cherry Bottom Road offers the popular taqueria twice the size, plus a full bar and patio. 

A franchise of Florida-based Jon Smith Subs opened Monday at 1119 S. Hamilton Road in Whitehall, a space that was previously a Mr. Hero. The location is the first Columbus storefront for the brand. Jon Smith Subs features made-to-order grilled subs, fresh deli subs and fries.   

Big Daddy Pizza recently made its debut at 12998 National Road SW in Etna, replacing Pizzaroni’s. The new pizzeria offers salads, subs, meatballs, calzones, brick oven-baked pizzas and more. 

Temporary Closings 

Martha’s Fusion Kitchen (3331 Maize Road) notified its customers this week that the restaurant has temporarily closed for renovations. The North Linden restaurant, a popular spot for birria tacos, was named one of Columbus Monthly’s Best New Restaurants earlier this year. Co-owner Jose Zacatelco told us in February that he plans to expand Martha’s from a mostly carry-out operation into a “tiny but mighty” sit-down restaurant, with dine-in seating for about 30 people. He also plans to add a bar.  

Closings 

It’s the end of an era for Rockmill Tavern, the critically acclaimed restaurant from Lancaster’s Rockmill Brewery. On Wednesday, the restaurant announced it would close after service on Saturday, April 23, following a brief pandemic-prompted shift to pizza under the name Bandit Pizza & Pairings by Rockmill (503 S. Front St.).

Rockmill’s owner, Matthew Barbee, first opened the gastropub in the fall of 2016, and it quickly gained attention under executive chef Andrew Smith. The Brewery District restaurant was named one of the city’s 10 Best Restaurants by Columbus Monthly in 2017 and 2018, but then Smith departed the kitchen in the fall of 2018. Last May, Rockmill Tavern shut down for several months to prepare for a rebrand prompted by the pandemic. It reemerged last September as Bandit, an artisanal pizza and craft beer spot.

An announcement posted to Bandit’s Instagram account Wednesday stated: “Many of you know how complicated the restaurant industry can be under normal circumstances, before considering any of the challenges of the last two years. We sincerely appreciate every guest that has supported the Rockmill Tavern and Bandit. As sad of a decision as this is, it is one we have made with great care to ensure the long-term success of Rockmill Brewery.”