Out of operation since the spring, the locally owned burger joint plans to open in mid-October.

Preston’s: A Burger Joint, which serves some of the best burgers in town, will soon wake from its pandemic-related hibernation. Today, the North Market announced that the smashburger specialist will open in the historic Spruce Street market in mid-October, filling the space left vacant by Little Eater.

“Part of the appeal of the space was that it’s a really good buildout,” Preston's owner Matthew Heaggans says of the Little Eater space, which is located between Firdous Express and American Nut Company. Despite shutting down the business (and its website) for most of the spring and summer, Heaggans says the plan was always to bring the popular business back and even grow it. 

“There was always a loose plan to do so. Just trying to figure out the right place and the right way and the right time. It’s difficult. It’s a real kind of audacious act to open a food business right now,” Heaggans says. “But I think that people are enthusiastic about it, I think people like it a lot … and I think it has a really good opportunity for acceptance here and hopefully some regional growth.”

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Preston’s will open in the North Market under the umbrella of Muse Hospitality, a restaurant group operated by Heaggans, restaurant developer Reed Woogerd and Bake Me Happy’s Letha Pugh. Preston’s co-founder Catie Randazzo is no longer affiliated with Preston’s and Muse, instead focusing on her South High restaurant Ambrose and Eve, Heaggans says.

“This town is no stranger to burger joints, but Preston’s is on another level,” said North Market’s executive director Rick Harrison Wolfe in a press release. “Top notch ingredients and preparation make them best in class by far. We’re proud to be their first permanent location and know they are bound for burger greatness.”

Having started as a pop-up in 2018, Preston’s announced a year ago that it would open its first brick-and-mortar location at 15 W. Cherry St. in Downtown Columbus; then the pandemic threw plans off course. Heaggans says he does not expect that location to come to fruition, though Muse is looking for more locations.

“I’m not really sure what things are going to be like Downtown for a really, really long time,” Heaggans says. “The restaurant biz is going to be an endangered species for the next undetermined amount of time, so we’ve tried to be very deliberate about making choices that give us the best chances.” He believes the North Market provides just that. 

“I feel like the scale is appropriate. I feel like we still have the opportunity for carryout and delivery which is really an important thing for us to focus on, and I think we will get good access to people,” he says.

Visitors to the new Preston’s can expect a scaled-down menu compared with the one it offered at Woodlands Tavern and Woodlands Backyard (Preston’s no longer operates at either). In addition to Preston’s signature smashburgers and fries, those menus featured a lot of prep-heavy shareables for the bargoing crowd, Heaggans says.