COLUMBIA, SC — A couple of restaurants in the Vista are playing musical chairs to make way for a new one.
Garden Bistro, tucked away for 15 years behind the Art Bar on Lady Street, closed that location Oct. 30 and opened last week at 1303-B Assembly St., near Rue 77 and Let’s Cook, owner Mike Haddon said.
Nonnah’s, a staple for 17 years at 930 Gervais St., near Pearlz Oyster Bar, will move in January across the street into the former Garden Bistro and an adjacent space with an entrance at 923 Gervais.
The reason? To make space for a new restaurant in Nonnah’s current location.
But Charleston-based Homegrown Hospitality Group, which owns the building, is staying mum on what that new restaurant will be.
The group owns Liberty Tap Room and Pearlz, both of which have a presence in the Vista, as well as the new Rioz Brazilian steakhouse in the Harbison area. Homegrown also has several other brands which are not in the Midlands, including Italian restaurant Capriz, Flying Fish and Kaminsky’s Baking Co., according to its website.
Jerry Scheer, co-owner of the restaurant group, said the company still is in the process of making plans for the space so announcing anything now would be premature.
Meanwhile, Garden Bistro is enjoying some street traffic since its move, said Haddon, who owns the restaurant with Matt Walker. “A lot of people didn’t realize the restaurant even existed,” he said.
At its former site, the restaurant’s entrance was hidden away behind Art Bar, and the restaurant didn’t use the space fronting along Gervais Street. “It’s nice to actually be attached to our physical address now.”
The new spot is in a prime location, near the corner of Assembly and Lady streets. It is across the street from Moe Levy’s and Reliable Pawn, which recently were purchased by Columbia developer Ben Arnold, who has plans to redevelop the block with a national restaurant or retailer.
City developers and leaders have said Lady Street is a natural place to encourage foot traffic between Main Street and the Vista.
The new Garden Bistro building, a former loan office, had to be completely renovated to accommodate the restaurant, Haddon said. More redecorating is planned in an attempt to “bring as much of the old place as we can with us.”
The new space is slightly smaller than the old spot, Haddon said, seating about 50, about 15 fewer than on Lady Street.
While the new spot is adjacent to a parking garage, there is no parking in it for the restaurant. Instead, metered parking is available along Assembly, Lady and Washington streets, Haddon said. The menu and phone number remain the same, he said. The website will continue to list daily specials, and the restaurant still will offer downtown delivery.
Nonnah’s, on the other hand, is still in the process of renovating the former Garden Bistro spot.
The new location will give the dessert-and-coffee restaurant about 6,000 square feet – 2,000 square feet more than its current location – and an additional kitchen, said Shannon Syrbe, one of the owners.
That will allow the owners to have more room for private dining parties and an expanded pastry line, she said. Nonnah’s -- which is known for its cake by the slice, but also serves lunch and dinner with a full bar -- will use the front and back entrances and the back parking lot.
“We’re excited,” Syrbe said.