After two years of planning, Banks Food Hall opens in downtown Columbus this weekend

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A new dining experience has opened this weekend in downtown Columbus.

Banks Food Hall has been two years in the planning and it’s opening was delayed by the COVID crisis.

But it’s open now, in a Bradley Company-owned building next to the Whitewater Express rafting outpost.

The plans called for nine food vendors and one bar in the open space that offers indoor and outdoor dining. It’s opening at half capacity with four food vendors — some of them with local ties. 

Maltitude, a downtown  beer vendor, is opening Maltitude Bar at Banks.

“And then ultimately, the other five will be filled out and opened before the end of the year,” said W.C. Bradley Company Real Estate Division President Pace Halter.

Banks Food Hall is one of the missing pieces on the riverfront in downtown Columbus.

“When we walked the Banks Building originally,” Halter said. “I felt it was the perfect fit, the location. With all of the activity of the splash pad, the playground and Whitewater Express being right next door.”

Two years in the planning, the food hall is opening under the cloud of COVID-19. The original plan called for 10 vendors — nine food and one bar. It’s opening with four food and a bar.

Whitewater Express owner Dan Gilbert says it will be a welcome addition for those coming to town for rafting and ziplining,

“And I think we are going to be terrific for them,” Gilbert said. “Over Labor Day weekend, we had 2,000 guests, just Saturday, Sunday, Monday. Everyone of them eat while they are here. They go all over uptown and I think they are going to flock in there.”

One of the attractions for the food hall is the inside and outside seating.

“That is what attracted us, the outside dining, all the seating,” said Melissa Gonzalez, owner El Primo Taqueria. “They can walk in, grab a taco, be eating the taco and go.”

It fits into the downtown progress, Halter said.

“We had great momentum headed into COVID. COVID certainly was a setback that nobody predicted,” Halter said. “Our hope is that Banks is part of the first step in bringing uptown back to what it was pre-COVID. I think that’s going to be a little while coming.”

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