Remember These Restaurants, Columbus?

October 26, 2023

Last updated 12/12/23

It’s an unfortunate fact that the restaurant scene is notoriously difficult. Columbus is home to many great restaurants, although sadly many have also closed up shop over the years. Here’s a walk down memory lane of some restaurants that have closed over the past 20 years. (This list will be updated regularly as I document more bygone eateries!)

Jack’s Sandwich Shop

Where was it? 52 E. Lynn St., Downtown

Jack’s started as a diner downtown in 1942, originally sitting on High Street before moving in 1968 to its Lynn alley location – coinciding with the opening of the Rhodes Tower. Owner Chris Kowalski ran it for many years, suffering from long-time construction around it and the ebb and flow of the downtown lunch crowd before shuttering it just prior to the pandemic. The space was briefly home to Nancy’s Home Cooking before it closed for good.

Read more: Jack’s Sandwich Shop in 2010 and Jack’s Sandwich Shop in 2017

Nancy’s Home Cooking

Where was it? 2133 N. High St., Clintonville

Nancy’s was a Clintonville institution since 1968, briefly owned by the actual Nancy before selling it to Cindy King, who operated it until 2009, when she closed the diner due to health reasons. Before Cindy passed away, her niece Sheila Hahn and her husband Rick managed to garner community support to update the space and reopen in 2010. Regulars donated their time to clean, paint, re-do flooring, install new equipment. Sadly, Sheila passed in 2012, and Rick kept it going, eventually moving it at the start of the pandemic downtown to the old Jack’s space before shuttering for good.

Read more: Nancy’s Home Cooking in 2019, Nancy’s reopening in 2010, and Nancy’s Home Cooking in 2009.

Banana Bean Cafe

Where was it? 410 E. Whittier St. and 340 Greenlawn Ave.

Banana Bean Cafe first started on Whittier Street where Skillet now sits. It was run by fellow members of the same family, and featured a Key West/Caribbean-inspired menu: shrimp and grits, eggs del mar, bananas foster French toast. After a couple years it moved over to Greenlawn Avenue (and Skillet opened), before shuttering around 2011. (The same owner also briefly ran Coyote Jane’s on South High Street, later home to Explorers Club, Geordie’s Restaurant, and now Lupita’s.)

Read more: Banana Bean Cafe in 2008, Banana Bean Cafe in 2009 with a revisit later than year, and a look at their chicken and waffles in 2010.

Baba’s

Where was it? 2515 Summit St.

Baba’s was run by Dan and Caroline Krauss, who were known for That Food Truck, one of the originals to park at Seventh Son Brewing when it first opened. They put in a lot of work to the corner space at Summit and Hudson, and they were near and dear to my heart – partly because I lived nearby and partly because they were fixtures on my Columbus Food Adventures breakfast tour. They made everything from scratch, from their bacon to sausage to brisket to their griddle muffins. Their breakfast sandwiches were amazing and their soups were some of the best I’ve ever had. Sadly, they were shuttered by the pandemic in 2020.

Read more: Baba’s in 2019 and Baba’s in 2016

Warehouse Cafe

Where was it? 243 N. Fifth St., Downtown

Warehouse Cafe was a beloved hidden gem in downtown Columbus, a one-room cafe serving breakfast and lunch. Its building was once part of a factory, and old equipment could still be seen hanging from the ceiling. Unfortunately, major flooding in the building that damaged the cafe, combined with the challenges of the pandemic, finally did it in. But the same family also owns Cafe Illyria on State Street downtown.

Read more: Warehouse Cafe in 2018 and Warehouse Cafe in 2008

Bierberg Bakery

Where was it? 729 S. Fifth St., German Village

Bierberg was a seasonal bakery in the heart of German Village, only open in the months leading up to the Christmas holidays. A dedicated team of bakers crafted traditional German cookies in the back, which were sold up front by the pound, presented in little tins. It first opened in 1913, and moved to its South Fifth Street location in 1971. They operated yearly through 2012.

Read more: Bierberg Bakery

Surly Girl Saloon (and Betty’s)

Where was it? 1126 N. High St.

Along with Betty’s just down the street (which I sadly don’t have any photos of!), Surly Girl was a fixture of an earlier, more scrappy Short North. Betty’s opened in 2001 and Surly Girl a couple years after. The two were the flagship restaurants of what became Columbus Food League, which grew to include Tip Top Kitchen & Cocktails (still going), the Jury Room (open as an event space), the Torpedo Room in the Gateway Film Center, and Dirty Frank’s Hot Dogs (still going, although there was a short-lived West Broad location, too). Surly Girl and Betty’s were known for late-night hours, inexpensive drinks, and hearty, creative food. Betty’s and CFL’s version of the Jury Room closed in 2014, and Surly Girl in 2015. (Fun side note: I do love that at Columbus Crew games you can stop by the Dirty Frank’s booth and get a Cowgirl Carmen hot dog with coney sauce, cheddar, and crushed Frito’s – a nod to a Surly Girl signature dishes named for owner Carmen Owens.)

Read more: Surly Girl Saloon

Linden Cafe

Where was it? 1393 Cleveland Ave., Linden

The Linden Cafe was the centerpiece for a newer development at Cleveland and 11th avenues in Linden. The space has cycled through a number of restaurants since, but the Linden Cafe was a much-loved spot for breakfast and lunch. I loved their big slabs of hash browns. And the cafe was the first place that this writer had chicken and waffles!

Read more: Linden Cafe

The Chintz Room

Where was it? 121 S. High St., Downtown

The latest version of the Chintz Room opened in early 2015 and lived on the bottom floor of the renovated Lazarus building. The original Chintz Room was inside the department store and closed in 1998. This one brought back some of their favorite recipes, including their famed celery dressing, as well as some original decorations, but the nostalgia wasn’t enough to sustain it, and it closed in summer 2016.

Read more: The Chintz Room

Hungry Soul Cafe

Where was it? 30 S. Young St., Downtown

The Hungry Soul Cafe was the very definition of a hidden gem. It sat on the ground floor of a downtown parking garage on Young Street, just south of Broad. The space is long and narrow, with lots of knotty pine, and a raised seating area along the windows. It had been a couple different restaurants previously (including an El Vaquero, I once heard?). Owners George and Anita Keller opened Hungry Soul in 2013, offering a delightful mix of Hungarian and soul food (get the name?), plus plenty of classic American favorites plus a full bar. I got to know and love them and their restaurant when we stopped regularly during my Columbus Food Adventures brunch tours. The cafe closed in February of 2016.

Read more: The Hungry Soul Cafe

Philco Diner + Bar

Where was it? 747 N. High St., Short North

Philco was a modern replacement for the long-time Philips Coney Island in the Short North. The hip diner came from the same restaurant group behind Club 185, Little Palace, The Rossi. They offered breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a full bar – it was one of our favorite spots for dinner during Gallery Hop. It closed quietly in 2020. In 2018 plans were announced to move/open a second location in German Village, but they fell through.

Read more: Philco Diner + Bar

Blunch

Where was it? 2973 N. High St., Clintonville

Taking an alternative name for breakfast + lunch, Blunch sat in the Clintonville strip that now includes Condado Tacos, Combustion Brewery, and an old change place. Blunch offered a creative spin on brunch dishes and cocktails. It opened in late 2017 but fell victim to the pandemic and ended its run in August of 2020. The space is now home to Preston’s Burgers.

Read more: Blunch

Rockmill Tavern

Where was it? 503 S. Front St., Brewery District

Rockmill Tavern was the restaurant extension of Rockmill Brewery in Lancaster. It first opened in late 2016 with Columbus chef Andrew Smith at the helm, and it quickly earned recognition for its combination of great food (including coffee, breakfast, and weekend brunch) paired with Rockmill’s Belgian-style brews. The tavern was briefly replaced by a new concept called Bandit Pizza & Pairings By Rockmill in late 2021, but it closed after a couple months.

Read more: Dinner at Rockmill Tavern in 2016, brunch at Rockmill in 2017

Taj Mahal / Mughal Darbar

Where was it? 2321 N. High St., Old North

Taj Mahal was a long-time, family-run Indian restaurant in an old house in Old North (now home to Cazeula’s). It was one of the first Indian restaurants in the city, and over the course of nearly 30 years, it introduced Columbus to North Indian cuisine. It closed up in the fall of 2013 and was sold to relatives, but owner Ajay Kumar briefly ran AJ’s Cafe downtown. The family legacy lived on for a while as Mughal Darbar through 2016 and fortunately continues today in New India Restaurant on Bethel Road.

Read more: Mughal Darbar in 2013

Kitchen Little / North Market Poultry & Game

Where was it? 59 Spruce St., North Market

Kitchen Little grew as the the prepared food arm of North Market Poultry & Game, a long-time mainstay of the market. Their counter at the northwest corner of the market was a spot for hearty and delicious meals. I remember especially the cassoulet that chef Dan Bandman used to put together. But their breakfasts were always thoughtfully constructed and filling.

Read more: North Market Poultry & Game in 2007 and Kitchen Little in 2011

Salt & Pine

Where was it? 250 S. High St., Downtown

Salt & Pine was a sadly short-lived eatery in the new (at the time) 250 S. High St. build downtown. It was operated by Chris Crader (of Harvest Pizzeria and the bygone Cosecha Cocina), and functioned almost as a modern diner. The long, narrow space was beautifully appointed, and featured a long counter, big windows, and a full bar. It closed in 2017 after less than two years in business.

Read more: Salt & Pine

Geordie’s Restaurant

Where was it? 1586 S. High St., Merion Village

Geordie’s was an English pub – and one of the only places in town to get an English breakfast – in Merion Village. Owner Glen Hall-Jones had a long career catering in the music industry, so the walls were lined with signed memorabilia from different rockers. The name comes from the term for a person from the Tyneside region in NE England, where Hall-Jones hailed from. The restaurant closed in May of 2021.

Read more: Geordie’s Restaurant in 2019

Worthington Inn

Where was it? 659 High St., Worthington

Speaking as a Worthington resident, the closure of the Worthington Inn in 2018 still stings. It was once competed with the Jury Room for the title of longest-running restaurants in central Ohio. It was built first as a private residence in the 1830s before becoming an actual hotel in the 1850s. It persisted over the years to become a beloved local spot, known for their great dinners, cozy bar, and big Sunday brunch buffet. The space has undergone renovations in recent years, converting the upstairs spaces to offices, and while proposals have been made to re-open the restaurant, none have solidified yet.

Read more: The Sunday brunch buffet at the Worthington Inn

Leone’s Pizza

Where was it? 5413 Sinclair Rd., Salem Village

Leone’s Pizza was a small but mighty family-run pizza shop with a storefront on Sinclair Avenue. They consistently won awards for their pies at local pizza competitions, and rightfully so. I was especially partial to their aromatic mushroom pizza. They operated from 2016-2018, and after closing briefly ran the kitchen at Camelot Cellars in Olde Towne East.

Cray Eatery & Drinkery

Where was it? 697 N. Fourth St., Italian Village

Cray was the first restaurant in the renovated former Wonder Bread factory in Italian Village. They had a fun bar program, open space with windows facing downtown, and a unique weekend brunch. It opened in 2014 and was featured on Restaurant Impossible in 2016, where it underwent changes and became Factory on 4th before going up for sale later that year. The space is now City Tavern.

Read more: Cray Eatery & Drinkery

Laughlin’s Bakery

Where was it? 15 E. Second Ave., Short North

Laughlin’s Bakery was a little hidden gem in the Short North on Second Avenue. Owner Jonas Laughlin had a background as an opera singer, and had begun baking after recovering from surgery. His bakery featured beautiful European-style breads, cookies, and pastries. It closed up in early 2020 and briefly became Icarus Sandwich Shop, from the Fox in the Snow owners.

Read more: Laughlin’s Bakery

CBC Restaurant

Where was it? 525 Short St., Brewery District

The former CBC Restaurant had a storied history. It started out as a Cameron Mitchell brewpub and the original space for the reinvigorated Columbus Brewing Company, but eventually the restaurant and brewery portions became separate businesses. After a time, CMR sold the restaurant, but the two remained separate. CBC made a move to a production facility and eventual taproom on the west side, and while the restaurant remained, the brewery was taken over briefly by Commonhouse Ales. Eventually the restaurant was sold and became Matt & Tony’s Wood Fired Kitchen, which closed in late 2023.

Read more: CBC Restaurant

Michael’s Goody Boy Diner

Where was it? 1144 N. High St., Short North

Long-timers from Columbus will remember the original iterations of Michael’s Goody Boy Diner. When I moved to Columbus in 2002, it was a rough-around-the-edges greasy spoon with an iconic sign on High Street. It was first opened in 1947 by Michael Pappas, the namesake for the diner. In recent years it has changed hands a few times and become a couple different, well, less-than-inspiring concepts. It closed in early 2023 but the next owner is working on a new concept in the space.

Read more: Michael’s Goody Boy Diner in 2007

Natalie’s Worthington

Where was it? 5601 N. High St., Worthington

We’re fortunate the Natalie’s legacy lives on in Natalie’s Music Hall & Kitchen in Grandview, but we’re still saddened by the closing of the original location in Worthington. Natalie’s was one of the first spots in central Ohio to use a coal-fired oven to crisp up their pies, which were a perfect combo with a great bar program and loads of live music.

Read more: Brunch at Natalie’s in Worthington in 2014

Lineage Brewing

Where was it? 2971 N. High St., Clintonville

Lineage Brewing was amongst the early wave of microbreweries in Columbus, and they successfully served as Clintonville’s neighborhood brewery from 2015-2022. In addition to their full roster of beers and community events, their kitchen produced some killer food, including giant, stuffed empanadas. The space is now home to Combustion Brewery’s second location.

Read more: Lineage Brewing in 2015 and Sunday brunch at Lineage in 2016

The Table

Where was it? 21 E. Fifth Ave., Short North

The Table was a mainstay of the Short North for about seven years before it closed up early in the pandemic, never to fully reopen. I loved the place because they were the opening stop on my Columbus Food Adventures brunch tour, and owners Jen Marlatt and Sang Lakhani were always so warm and welcoming. (Sang also made one of my favorite breakfasts, a spicy Indian scrambled eggs dish called akoori.) Their beautiful space started life as a Bell Telephone switchboard in the 1920s before it sat empty for decades. At The Table they incorporated as many local ingredients as possible, and featured a menu that was inspired globally. The space is now home to ‘Plas Food & Drink.

Read more: The Table

Tupelo Doughnuts

Where was it? A truck at Beechwold Bicycles and a shop at 2680 Billingsley Rd., Dublin

Tupelo Doughnuts began in 2016 selling as a pop-up in German Village before opening a pair of trucks (named Tup and Tilly) that appeared at events and parked regularly outside Beechwold Bicycles. They offered a unique selection like a creme bruleed donut, a brown butter old fashioned, and orange cardamom donut holes. They added a carryout spot on Billingsley Road off Sawmill and were planning a Clintonville storefront (even putting up signage) that fell through. Tupelo Doughnuts went on hiatus in December 2021 and didn’t return.

Read more: Tupelo Doughnuts’ truck in 2017 and their storefront in 2020

Izzy & Mo’s Luncheonette

Where was it? 249 King Ave., Victorian Village

Izzy & Mo’s space in Victorian Village had a rich history as a variety of restaurants. It was known for a long time as Dragonfly Neo-V, an upscale vegetarian spot from owners Magdiale Womack and Cristin Austin. They closed it in 2011 to re-open it as Til Dynamic Fare, adding on a a deli called Izzy & Mo’s Luncheonette (named for Womack’s parents, I believe) in 2015. It all closed in 2016, and then was briefly home to The Angry Baker‘s second location before becoming Alqueria.

Read more: Izzy & Mo’s Luncheonette

Stay tuned! I’ll keep updating this post with more bygone restaurants from the past 20+ years that are worth documenting.

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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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