Verve in the ‘Burbs

While the city courts more and more younger Columbus residents to downtown with the promise of luxury apartments and gastropubs, the suburbs have been quietly following suit, developing a personality apart from its strip mall-lined past. Here is a primer on just a few of suburban cores that are undergoing a facelift:

Westerville: In 2000, Uptown Westerville was a quiet little strip of historic storefronts facing State Street. It was also dry – Saharan, even, but for the house parties at nearby Otterbein – and had been for 121 years.

The alcohol ban was officially lifted in 2006, and today the antique storefronts remain – including mainstays like Amish Originals Furniture – but have expanded to include Good Vibes Winery, Buckeye Brewcraft, Meza Wine Shop, Old Bag of Nails, and Jimmy V’s, all within a few blocks of the Anti-Saloon League Museum housed in the Westerville Public Library. As a final dagger in Prohibition’s heart, Temperance Row Brewing, a microbrewery and taproom, is scheduled for unveiling in the next few months.

It’s not all booze, though, as Temperance will operate from soon-to-open Uptown Deli, the newest addition to a culinary scene that now includes Thai Grill and Chocolaterie Stam. The fourth Northstar Café will also set up shop in Uptown in the near future, adding to a fitting mini-district for a town with rich history still considered one of the best ’burbs in America.

Uptown will convert into a mini rock and roll festival for one day this month, as Rock the ’Ville, featured music, fashion, dancing, and street art from 3 to 9 p.m. August 8.


Powell: Set aside a 20-minute (or perhaps 40-minute) drive after work one day this summer or fall, and snake your way through the developing traffic patterns to Powell, and you’ll be transported to a cozy little cove that is anything but sleepy. Occupying the southern tip of Delaware County, Powell has experience record influx in the last decade, becoming the destination du jour for the area’s athletes, CEOs and other high rollers, many seeking the sprawling estates that have been easier developed on what used to be miles of farmland. The downtown center is a mix of Powell’s past and current identities, a fusion that began 10 years ago with an ambitious revitalization plan. Dozens of charming antique shops mingle with diverse dining and drinking options that mix the old-school watering hole (Liberty Tavern) with the upscale pub (Kraft House No. 5), flanked by a massive Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, and Local Roots, which boasts seasonal meni items, gluten-free specialties and live music on the patio several nights a week. Add in a downtown street market and even a business incubator and it’s not hard to see why Powell was named by CNN/Money Magazine as one of the Best Places to Live in the U.S.

The Powell Street Market will be held Sunday,
September 7, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Gahanna: Like Powell, Gahanna’s revival began a decade ago, when their public-private Creekside project started to take shape, an “if you build it, they will come” plan to bring the area’s ballooning population into their downtown space, rather than the big one to the West. Utilizing Big Walnut Creek, Creekside offered something most suburban downtowns don’t: an integration of retail, residential – and natural spaces. Condos, offices, and an event center flank the shops and the stream, and in addition to award-winning establishments like Koko Tea Salon and Arepazo, residents can go for a rented paddle boat ride during the day, or enjoy live concerts at night.

Creekside Live will feature music from Cliff Cody and SWAGG on August 8 and 6pm –Jonalee White Band and The Spikedrivers on August 22.