The West Side: What to expect

Brittany Kress, Columbus Alive

If you want to kick back and enjoy a steak and Bordeaux or watch the Reds without leaving the casino, Hollywood's got you covered.

But let's say you choose to venture outside the fortress for a bite to eat, some shopping or just to show off the area to friends in town. What are you likely to find?

Good question. That part of West Broad Street, just 6.5 miles from Downtown, hasn't been top-of-mind for quite some time.

A drive through today shows Hollywood isn't the only flashy new kid on the block: a sign advertising "live nudes coming soon" is almost directly across the street, and a McDonald's (with its own digital billboard) is a few blocks west.

Other businesses appear to have been there much longer: two thrift stores, a TeeJay's, several car dealerships and "is it open?" Westland Mall, which calls Sears and Staples its flagship stores.

Still, the area is a gold mine of ethnic eateries and food trucks, including La Popular and Plaza Tapatia, said guru Bethia Woolf of Columbus Food Adventures, which offers a taco truck tour of the West Side.

And with Penn National projecting 10,000 casino visitors daily, the city and its promoters see nothing but improvements for the neighborhood.

"We fully expect that … from the minute you get off the highway to when you turn into the casino, businesses will open," said Scott Peacock, spokesman at Experience Columbus.

City Council approved putting $750,000 toward the neighborhood in the next year, but specific plans haven't been announced.

Experience Columbus is excited to tout the area, Peacock said – comparing its possible rise to those of Easton and Polaris.

"Who knows what could happen on that side of town?" he said.