This summer has seen new players in the Short North restaurant business. The long running Coffee Table at the corner of Buttles and High Street was closed at the beginning of the year and the space was joined with a small restaurant called "8" to form a large up-scale restaurant now called "The Black Olive" (not affiliated with other Black Olive restaurants around the country). The Black Olive is now open along with Cuppy's Coffee (which is in the new Dakota Condo Building near 1st Avenue and High Street).
Speaking of a restaurant named "8", there is new one opening named "eleven"(not affiliated with other restaurants around the country named "11"). Eleven is a new venture by Hyde Park Steakhouse that now rents the entire west side of the I-670 "cap".( The High Street bridge over I-670 was rebuilt with fancy storefronts on each side hiding the freeway that is known as "the Cap". ) Eleven will serve Molecular Mixology and Gastronomy fare popularized in this country by Chicago's Moto Restaurant. There are a dozen or so such restaurants in North America, but this is a first for such a small city as Columbus. This new food and drink preparation uses science to cook, freeze, foam, display, and manipulate your order to create a 21st century light meal right out of the imagination. This could become the biggest draw the Short North has seen in years for the sophisticated adventurer.
The Black Olive is half way between Fabian's Pizza and Rosendale's and its decor reflects it. The bar is the center of attraction like Fabian's Chicago Style Pizza, while the rest of the Black Olive space is taken up with fancy restaurant tables like Rosendale's. The white line napkins don't change the fact that the Black Olive expects as much business at its prominent bar as its tables, both inside and out. It is a people watcher's paradise. And, judging from the cars parked out front, a place to impress.
The Coffee Table (where the Black Olive sits now) closed at the same time as the coffee and ice cream shop Emack and Bolio's near 2nd Avenue. Smack dab between these two exciting (defunkt) coffee shops is Cuppy's Coffee, a very tasteful franchise with free Wi-Fi and the usual assortment of specialty coffee. However, it is half the size of either of the two shops that closed. One person can run Cuppy's Coffee and ten people would probably fill the place. It does sell its packaged coffee beans from Italy at a reasonable price, including a decafe espresso. There is art on the wall and they offer other drinks and munchies. Also, its styrofoam cups are quite substantial and reusable at home or the art studio. The coffeeshop business seems to be hedging its bet and downsizing from the coffeeshop mania of the last ten years. The brand new Starbuck's in the Yukon Building is scheduled to close as well. The new Three Dog Bakery next door is selling Starbucks coffee in the bag. Still, this pretty much leaves the local chain Cup O' Joe with its Mo-Jo Lounge bar (on the Cap) as the only large Short North coffeeshop.