Browning on business: Local pizza place changing things up

November 21, 2013 10:52:45 AM

William Browning - [email protected]


We begin with two items coming from 18th Avenue North in Columbus. 


You may have noticed that CJ's Pizza in Towne Square has been closed this week. Here's why: the owners of the pizzeria and CJ's Italian Bistro are combining the restaurants. Beginning next week it will be one restaurant: CJ's Pizza & Bistro. 


The pizzeria and bistro have sat side by side for more than a year. Both are owned by the same folks, Blake Trenary and Matthew Molina. 


"It's a goal we've been wanting to reach for a while," Molina, who is also the chef, said earlier this week about combining the ventures. "It's just really to accommodate our customers." 


CJ's Pizza has operated in the Columbus area for more than two decades. The pizzeria has been at its current location roughly four years. The bistro opened a year and a half ago. Now, the menus are combining. 


Renovations began Monday. A 10-foot space came out of the wall separating the businesses' seating areas. Another 10-foot space came out of the wall separating the kitchens. 


Other pieces of the renovation will be worked out this week and doors will open Monday or, Molina said, "maybe Tuesday." 


The restaurant -- which Molina called "the only authentic Italian restaurant in a 45-minute radius" -- will offer the same CJ's Pizza food, which consists of homemade pasta, homemade pizza and fresh made sauces with ingredients imported from Italy. The only difference will be that one side of the restaurant will feature a bar area that offers craft beer on tap and other beverages. But sit anywhere and you are offered the full menu. 


One other change is coming. In the near future, CJ's Pizza & Bistro will begin offering a lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on every day except Saturday. Live music is still played the restaurant on Tuesday and Thursday nights. 


In all, the restaurant can accommodate roughly 130 people. 


Also, a new coffee shop is opening in Columbus early next year. You might have heard of it. It's named after the first mate in "Moby Dick" and its logo features a twin-tailed siren from Greek mythology. 


Mark Castleberry, a local developer and Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau director, said during a CVB board meeting Monday that a Starbucks will be located in the soon-to-open Courtyard By Marriott. The hotel is slated to open in January. It will be located at 18th Avenue North and 6th Street North. 


Everyone has heard of Starbucks. A few facts: It began in Seattle's Pike Place Market in 1971 and by last summer there were more than 17,000 stores worldwide. They are located from Wales to the Czech Republic to Starkville and, soon, Columbus. 


There are other options for coffee fans in Columbus. Beans & Cream is at The Shops at Brickerton off Military Road and downtown there is the Coffee House on 5th.....on 5th Street North. 


Lastly, Jack's formally opened Wednesday on Highway 45 North in the building that once housed Bojangles, which closed earlier this year.  


Jack's is a Birmingham, Ala.-based fast food chain known for its burgers. They open at 5 a.m. with a breakfast menu, though.

William Browning was managing editor for The Dispatch until June 2016.