The original Max & Erma's has been transformed into a coworking space and bar, with Pierogi Mountain running the kitchen.

In the German Village space that once housed the original Max & Erma’s, which closed in August 2017, clean lines have replaced overstuffed kitsch, and burgers have been swapped out for scratch-made Polish fare. The 1880s building now houses the coworking venue Kollektiv and watering hole Wunderbar, which are set to open to members and the public at 741/739 S. Third St. on Friday, March 15.

Utilizing space on three floors of the historic building, Kollektiv offers short- or long-term memberships for hot desks, dedicated desks, private offices and conference rooms. The ground floor also features Wunderbar and a kitchen being run by Pierogi Mountain.

Max & Erma’s memory still resonates in the renovated space—though the bathtub-shaped sundae bar is long gone. Kollektiv co-creator Katie Murray says her group wanted to preserve the building’s vintage feel, even displaying some of the chain’s original memorabilia. Max & Erma’s dark wood paneling, original bar and Tiffany-style pendant lights also remain. One big improvement: The building is now ADA compliant.

“With our many amenities, including an in-house restaurant and bar, we are continuing the tradition of this building being the ‘town hall’ of German Village,” Murray said in an announcement.

The combination of a coworking space and restaurant/bar is a growing trend around the U.S. that’s picking up in Central Ohio. In addition to Kollektiv and Wunderbar/Pierogi Mountain, the coworking space COhatch The Pub is set to open in Polaris this year, featuring a bar operated by Brothers Drake Meadery. 

Pierogi Mountain co-owner Matt Majesky says his “aim is to put out affordable bar food and treat our employees well.” He learned about the opportunity in German Village through a friend at the same time that he and his business partner Charlie Greene were looking to expand beyond its spot inside the Campus-area dive bar Cafe Bourbon Street.

With a menu that’s split evenly between vegan and meat-based dishes, Pierogi Mountain features traditional cheese and potato pierogies, plus out-of-the-box takes like fried chicken and waffle pierogies. House-made kielbasa (both pork and seitan) and comfort foods such as chicken paprikash, mushroom stroganoff and Hungarian poutine round out the menu. Look for the addition of brunch this spring.

Since getting its start inside Cafe Bourbon Street, Pierogi Mountain has grown in popularity, earning a spot on The Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” Majesky says the original location on Summit Street will remain open, and will even serve as a testing ground for new dishes.

Wunderbar, which is a new concept in Columbus, will offer craft cocktails developed by bartender Greg Burnett, plus seven beers on tap, wines by the glass and daily happy hours.

Wunderbar and Pierogi Mountain will be open to the public starting at 4 p.m. on weekdays; Pierogi Mountain will stay open until midnight and Wunderbar until 1 a.m. Both the bar and kitchen will be open noon to 1 a.m. on Saturdays and noon to midnight on Sundays. Pierogi Mountain’s German Village menu is already available through delivery services such as Postmates, UberEats and GrubHub.