Deciding what’s on the menu can be a stressful part of planning meetings, but urban public market venues are all the rage when it comes to satiating the cravings of every attendee.
Columbus, Ohio’s North Market, dating to 1876 and located firmly within walking distance of the city’s major convention hotels and the Greater Columbus Convention Center, offers a full plate of eating and shopping choices, from the hot chicken craze to Vietnamese, Indian, Greek and Italian—among the United Nations-worthy selection of prepared foods—to fresh meats and sugary treats.
And then there’s the dessert that has become the signature indulgence of Ohio’s capital city, the decidedly eclectic palate of creamy goodness scooped out at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.
“You’re getting the real flavor of Columbus here,” said Rick Harrison Wolfe, executive director of the nonprofit North Market. “Everyone here works at a micro level, and rent is based on what you do, with prepared food being the highest and businesses such as butchers the least.”
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A Delicious Division of Vendors Fills the North Market
According to Wolfe, about one-third of the market is comprised of prepared-food purveyors, with another third being bakers and confectioners. The remaining third of the market consists of fresh-food providers such as butchers and produce suppliers.
All of the North Market’s approximately 35 businesses are locally and independently owned.
Wolfe said that the idea behind the North Market is to provide an incubator for the merchants to expand beyond the venue. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, the one-of-a-kind creamery where deliciously inspired flavors such as Goat Cheese & Red Cherries, Bangkok Peanut and the local wine-infused Frose are offered, got its start here.
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, North Market, Columbus, Ohio
“Part of the mission is that we want people to grow outside of these walls,” he said. “You’re getting the real flavor of Columbus here, and 83 percent of every dollar spent stays in the local economy.”
North Market's Brick Warehouse Event Venue Plans Expansion
Besides the overwhelming sensory experience plated and bagged up by its culinary components, North Market also offers event space for meeting groups.
Located in a two-story restored-brick warehouse with a wrap-around mezzanine on the second level, the venue can accommodate parties for up to 2,500. Groups can rent out the whole space as well as the 15,000-square-foot outdoor Farmer’s Market Pavilion.
After quickly realizing the revenue-generating possibilities of event space rental, which accounts for perhaps 20 percent of the funds that finance the 501(c)(3) North Market Development Authority, the market decided to embark on an expansion effort to increase its public-space offering.
Currently in the design phase, Wolfe is optimistic the expanded venue will be ready to party by 2022-2023.
Scenes From the North Market in Columbus, Ohio