Veritas chef-owner Josh Dalton and developer Jeff Edwards are revisioning the corner of Gay and High streets with a pair of European-inspired restaurants and a wine shop.
In 2017, chef Josh Dalton relocated his six-year-old modern American restaurant, Veritas, from Delaware to The Citizens building in Downtown Columbus. The person who wooed the talented chef Downtown was developer Jeff Edwards, the building’s deep-pocketed owner and president of The Edwards Companies. Now, despite the pandemic, the pair are ready to expand their partnership with three new business ventures at the corner of High and Gay streets, and possibly more Downtown projects on the way.
First up is a French bistro, for which Edwards submitted plans to the Downtown Commission last Tuesday, as reported by The Columbus Dispatch. The restaurant will fill the former Brioso Coffee space on the northeast corner of Gay and High streets and offer ample patio seating—an homage to Parisian café culture.
Edwards didn’t have to look far for a creative partner willing to bring to life his dream of having a little corner of Paris in Central Ohio. [For the record, the author of this article is not related to this Jeff Edwards.] Speaking to Columbus Monthly on Monday, Dalton confided that he’s the chef on the project, adding that the bistro’s official name has not yet been decided. The pair are planning to open the bistro late next year.
“I know [Edwards] loves Bouchon in California,” Dalton says, referring to chef Thomas Keller’s traditional French bistro in Napa Valley. “I think we’ll have a lot of the classics, but we’ll try to—not reinvent them by any means because they’re classics for a reason—but we may lighten them up or change them because of the seasons,” Dalton says, noting that the bistro will serve lunch and dinner. “Something that we do at Veritas is affordable luxury. It’s something that we’re going to try to continue there.”
The pair’s plan to reinvigorate Downtown dining doesn’t end there.
Speck Italian Eatery, one of Columbus Monthly’s Best New Restaurants of 2019, is expected to begin construction this winter on the ground floor of The Nicholas, the Edwards-owned apartment building at 12 W. Gay St. The restaurant will be located across High Street from the forthcoming bistro, with a possible fall 2021 opening.
Last year, Dalton opened Speck on Winter Street in downtown Delaware, quickly growing a fan base with simple yet well-executed rustic Italian fare. Measuring at around 3,000 square feet, the new Speck will feature a second-floor “pasta room” wrapped in glass so that diners can ogle fresh pastas being made. Dalton says he’s undecided whether Speck’s original location on Winter Street will remain open or whether the space will be converted into an incubator for another new concept.
The third venture in the works is Accent by Veritas, a new wine shop driven by Dalton and Veritas sommelier Gregory Stokes. “We had an idea of doing one a long time ago in the old Brioso space,” Dalton says, explaining that the shop's location has now shifted across the street to The Citizens, which is home to Veritas, The Citizens Trust cocktail bar and the Brioso’s new café. Accent is eyeing an opening this winter.
Whatever Dalton can dream up, it appears that Edwards has the real estate for it. Though the chef declined to name additional projects that are in the works, Dalton often workshops a restaurant concept before opening. One clue: Veritas will soon launch a pop-up on Wednesdays and Thursdays showcasing “all-things chicken”—chicken and dumplings, coffee-rubbed wings, brick chicken, you name it.
Though the pandemic and the summer’s protests have greatly impacted Downtown businesses like Veritas, both Dalton and Edwards are ready to keep betting on the urban center.
“Edwards Companies has been great to me, so if I was going to get into bed with anybody, I’m happy to be with them. I think he really believes in Downtown,” Dalton says. “If he believes in it, then I’m going to jump on board.”