Cafe Overlook is a Hidden Gem that Empowers Service Industry Workers

September 28, 2023

Located on the 16th floor of the Franklin County Courthouse, Cafe Overlook serves multiple purposes:

  1. It’s a public restaurant serving breakfast and lunch Monday-Friday
  2. It’s essentially the in-house cafeteria for the courthouse complex
  3. It’s a training ground for service industry workers, operated by Service Relief Kitchen
  4. It also offers some of the best views of the city you can enjoy over lunch!

Quick note: I sit on the board of directors for Service Relief Kitchen. The organization was started by Sangeeta Lakhani, Letha Pugh, Matt Heaggans, and Shelley Mann at the start of the pandemic to provide meals and emergency grants to out-of-work service industry folks.

Service continues offering emergency grants, but has shifted its focus to providing training and resources to the industry, and Cafe Overlook is an extension of that mission!

In 2022 they were asked by the Franklin County Commissioners to take over the courthouse’s food service, and they use the cafe to train service industry workers, provide them health coverage, and offer resources like housing assistance and more. It’s amazing!

Cafe Overlook is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Friday, serving breakfast from 8-11 and lunch from 11-3.

In addition to a hot menu, there’s a full salad bar.

And a full-service coffee counter.

There you’ll find local roasters like Luck Bros, Royal Flamingo, and Black Kahawa, plus teas, Sammy’s Bagels, and other snacks.

And you’ll spy local snacks like Bake Me Happy goodies. (One of the Bake Me Happy owners, Letha Pugh, is on the Service board and runs Overlook.)

The bonus is that the food is great! It offers all the recognizable favorites at a quality that’s well above standard cafeteria fare.

You’ll see breakfast sandwiches and burritos, biscuits, scrambles, and pancakes, plus burgers, sandwiches, salads, bowls at lunch. There are daily specials, too.

I’ve made a couple stops there for lunch, trying a cheeseburger (that echos of Preston’s, given owner Matt Heaggans’ leadership role at Service/Overlook) and fries.

And a great fried chicken sandwich.

Plus a big taco bowl!

And the real clincher is the 16th floor views you get to enjoy while you eat!

The dining room is expansive, too, so there’s plenty of room for groups.

The views extend around three sides of the building, so you get a good look at downtown, the Brewery District, German Village.

It might feel intimidating to get to Overlook, but it’s very easy. I’ll walk you through it:

First, head to the north entrance of the building, at 365 S. High St., on the southwest corner of South High and Mound.

You’ll have to pass through security, which is pretty quick and easy. Then you’ll proceed down the long corridor toward the elevator banks. At the end of the corridor and after the short flight of stairs, you’ll see them on the right. Just find the bank that takes you to the upper floors; you’ll need the 16th.

All along you’ll see signs leading you to Cafe Overlook, so just keep following those! After you get off the elevators on the 16th floor, you’ll see Overlook immediately to your left.

Know that, in addition to a great meal with excellent views, you’re supporting an important organization that works toward equity and sustainability in the hospitality industry.

You should definitely learn more about Service Relief Kitchen: servicerelief.org

Cafe Overlook
373 S. High St.
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 525-5421

Web: cafeoverlook.org
FB: Cafe Overlook
IG: @cafeoverlook

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FOOD + TRAVEL WRITER

I go by Dr. Breakfast, but in addition to restaurants and recipes, I write about family travel, breweries and distilleries, the arts, outdoor fun, and so much more.

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