25 years in German Village: Barcelona hosting anniversary events – The Columbus Dispatch
Barcelona Restaurant and Bar is showing off a well-deserved silvery glow.
The German Village restaurant, perpetually hip with a cool attitude, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, even after a 10-week shutdown last year during the height of COVID-19.
“We never contemplating closing permanently,” owner Scott Heimlich said. “My team came together and said we have to make it through in some capacity.”
Located at 263 E. Whittier St., the restaurant was founded by local entrepreneur Kyle Katz in 1996. Heimlich bought the restaurant in 2002, seeing the value and potential.
“It was a good restaurant,” Heimlich said, “very Mediterranean in food and modern in appearance.”
It was chef Paul Yow who suggested that Barcelona, given its name, reorient the menu toward Spanish cuisine with some global influences.
“We called it Spanish fusion,” Heimlich said, a term that is, even if subtly, still used today. “At the time it was difficult to get Spanish ingredients.”
There was also a gamble in alienating those still who preferred reliably Midwest dishes and ingredients.
Heimlich and Yow took a couple of fact-finding missions to Spain.
“It was purely research – eating and drinking as much as you can, experiencing the culture,” Heimlich said.
Tapas was all the rage in the early 2000s, with some restaurants fully devoting their menus to small plates.
It had its prominence at Barcelona, too, but the restaurant was making a name for itself with paella, seafood dishes and other plates designed and “shareables,” or meant to be spread out across the table.
The restaurant was getting high marks for its fried, cornmeal-dusted calamari, which for a long time was served with a spicy chipotle mayo.
“I think as we evolved into more of the true Spanish, we incorporated a little more tapas, which is shareable, too,” said Yow, now chef at Forbidden Root in Easton Town Center.
“We were growing as a restaurant, redefining what we should be,” Heimlich said.
The space is deceptively larger than appears from outside. It is 4,000 square feet, with a plush patio that is well regarded by many patrons.
“We’ve had some remodels,” Heimlich said. “We’ve had to refresh as you go along, as you age.”
He describes the space as warm, with earth tones, decorative tiles, oversized mirrors and the occasional Spanish flourish.
“We wanted to be careful that we didn’t come across as stuffy or fine dining,” Heimlich said.
He said hitting the 25-year mark brings up mixed emotions.
“It’s hard to believe,” he said. “Some days it feels like just walking in here and taking the keys,” he said. “Other times, it feels like a lifetime.”
Lunch – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays
Dinner – 4 to 9 p.m. Sundays and Tuesdays through Thursdays and 4 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
The restaurant is closed Mondays. For more information, call 614-443-3699.
To show his gratitude toward staff, guests and the community, Heimlich will hold several events through Nov. 22. Barcelona is teaming up with the Mid-Ohio Food Collective to benefit South Side Roots Café Market & Kitchen, 280 Reeb Ave.
The schedule is Barcelona anniversary wine dinner, Oct. 18; Barcelona’s Woodford dinner, Oct. 25; Los Amigos Supper Club, Oct. 28; flamenco show and dinner, Nov. 1; tapas challenge, Nov. 8; Celebrity Chef dinner, Nov. 15; and Barcelona team member reunion, Nov. 22.
For more information or to make reservations, call 614-443-3699.