Michael’s Goody Boy Drive-In | Columbus, OH

“Drive in hungry – drive out full.”

[UPDATE: Goody-Boy has been renovated and is under new management.]

Michael’s Goody Boy Drive-In
1144 North High St.

Columbus, OH 43201

(614) 291-8512

Open 7 days a week

Date of Visit: Friday, November 30, 9:00 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: Okay… I’ve had my eye on this place ever since Beth and I first moved to Columbus. I have a penchant for diners and small eateries… they always show off the local color and very rarely are they corporate chains. There’s something universal about them. So I’ve been gunning (in the mildest way possible) to eat here since, oh, late 2002. Beth has successfully resisted, and with good reason. When we first moved to Columbus, this place did look like a rat-hole… dirty, suspicious client√®le, run-down… much like the White Castle across the street.

But in recent years the owners have spruced the place up – as much as you can with a diner. They turned part of their parking lot along High Street into an outdoor patio. They repainted the sign and fixed the burnt-out lights. Now, it survives as a fully armed and operational old school, classic diner. Seriously, it’s a blast from the past (although not mine… someone else’s).

I mean, look at the top picture. And the layout of the building. Once upon a time, people drove up to this restaurant (hence the name “drive-in,” I’m led to believe) and waitresses roller-skated out to customers, serving burgers, fries, and milkshakes. The neighborhood has gone through a roll of changes, good and bad, since then, but Michael’s has survived and kept its Americana charm.

ATMOSPHERE: The inside reflects this, too. I visited with Ryan and Karl, and we marveled at the small, informal feel to the place. There are two small islands of counters and stools. Just like at Jack & Benny’s, my legs barely fit underneath. As we sat and sipped our coffee, a steady crowd of regulars – neighborhood folks, construction workers, a woman with her small son and her mother – slipped in and out of the doors. One regular walked in and helped himself to coffee while John, the cook, whipped up his breakfast without even asking. One guy, on his way out, asked us if we knew if the Packers had won last night. While we ate, we conversed with the woman and her mother. Karl pointed out that, in such a small space, everyone can hear what you say. There are no booths to separate out the conversations. We were all in this together.

As for the decor… well, think diner. A low row of posters over the counter reveal the cook’s preference for the Detroit Redwings. A chalkboard in one corner announces the day’s specials (liver and onions, by the by). Stacks of newspapers sit on the counters. A small sign tells you the rules of the place: #1, John is always right. #2, if John is ever wrong, see rule #1. An old wooden register chimes when the servers ring up your bill. (And they do take credit cards, by the way.)

: Michael’s serves up simple diner food, freshly and lovingly prepared. I didn’t see the cook prepare everything, but I was impressed that the potatoes were not a formerly-frozen heap of hash browns, but thin slices of real potatoes, with skins still on. I saw a server walk into the kitchen carrying a plate of thick, raw bacon – not this thin frozen stuff. This is real food. No bells and whistles, yes, but still the real deal.

Karl and I had Lori’s Special (pictured above): 2 eggs, meat, homefries, toast, and coffee. It’s such a simple thing, but I never thought I would appreciate coffee being included in the meal. It makes things easier, and it’s so cheap! The price of this meal: $5. Awesome.

A note about the coffee: it was the expected diner coffee, served in thick-walled mugs and refilled constantly. But this was good brown. How good was it? I quote Karl in saying that it was the “Aristotelian ideal of brown.”

The rest of Michael’s small menu features breakfast and lunch items, and there’s something for everyone… omelets, steak and eggs, hotcakes, and various specialty combos. The lunch menu includes a range of sandwiches; Karl has had the Good Boy Burger, and declared it awesome.

Here’s a shot of Ryan and Karl’s breakfasts. Look at that pancake. We figured that it was fried in butter, or something like that. It’s the most perfect, golden delicious pancake you’ve ever seen? It tasted like a beautiful golden delicious pancake, too.

SERVICE: Our server (aka the only server there) was nice and sweet. She refilled our coffee regularly, took orders quickly, and generally made us feel welcome. All that, and she didn’t seem rushed. Many of the regulars seemed to know her. When I caught the cook’s eye, he gave me a friendly good morning. He, too, chatted with the regulars. As we left the restaurant, we saw two more guys in the back room, apparently prepping food (4 people to run a small place like that – I wonder why?). The guys wished us a good day and a God bless.

OVERALL: Karl, Ryan, and I were excited to find this inexpensive, charming eatery. I can’t believe I waited this long to go here. The food’s straight-up delicious, and it’s a look back in history at the way almost all restaurants used to be.

-> Here are some other photos of the place, taken before they repainted the sign. Before the repaint, the sign was really old school.
-> Here is Michael’s featured in a list of drive-in eateries from Roadside Peek.
-> Plus another couple of pictures (with some interesting captions) of the sign before painting.

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  1. says

    Nick:I have to say I love your blog. I was a student at OSU many years ago and have just returned to Columbus after being gone for 15 years. The one thing I noticed after living in some smaler locales is that it seems liked Columbus had driven out all the local eateries in favor of chain restaurants, but your blog has proved me wrong. There are places to find as long as you take the time to look.I’ve been by Michael’s on many occasions, but never stopped in. Your review makes it sound like a must-see/must-eat at place. Please keep up the reviews as I need “agents” on the ground to help me find interesting and fun places to eat.Thanks,Random

  2. says

    Today, I went to Needle in a Haystack on Lane Avenue to service my vintage “The Fisher” console stereo. My boys (almost 14 and 15) and I were hungry after making the trip from the northwest side of Dayton.We were hungry and drove through the OSU area with the three of us grumbling all the way through. I hate Columbus for the most part. It is the most boring, flat drive of one plus hours I know. All three of us hate OSU. I know – haters! Not only that, we are Cajuns and LSU fans. Yes, in southwest Ohio. Don’t ask -it takes too long. Any place that looked interesting to eat had no parking. As I loathe chains, we drove east on Lane Avenue and south on High Street until I spied Michael’s Goody Boy.It was awesome. I had the best gyro I’ve ever eaten, real fountain Coke and the boys had Goody Boy’s specialty double cheeseburgers, all with fries. I think the owners must be Greek, judging from our server/cook/cashier’s accent. I was completely delighted and thrilled at the whole experience. As I said, the best gyro I’ve ever had. The ambience was extraordinary. Thanks for the terrific review – which just justified my findings!

  3. says

    I ate at Goody Boys at least 3 days per week from 1979 to 1989,and then less often because I moved away. Try the Goody Boy platter, with gravy on the fries. That's the most calories & fat for your money. There was always the Greek chef, George, and the same 2 guys in the back doing dishes and the same 3 waitresses. I loved them all and it was a very family atmosphere. I came back for a visit in 1996 I think, to find hookers & crack dealers in the parking lot. But still the same great food. Looks like it is really fixed up now, which matches the gentrified nature of High Street down there. Glad it survived…Kurt

  4. says

    Ah, the Goody Boy. I moved to the Greystone building in the Short North in about 1980 and then to NYC in ’82. I worked for Biashara Antiques directly across High Street from the Goody Boy, in a building that burned down in the 90s. I must’ve eaten hundreds of “Goody Boy Baskets”, a burger deluxe which was priced at $1.55 then, and for years afterward. The owner was George, and the main two waitresses were Shag and Aggie. They were darlings, all of them. If they’re still there, please tell them Reno says Hello!I’m so glad the place is still there and still affordable and delicious and friendly. Word has it around NYC (kidding) that the Goody Boy is being sold, but that the new owners are keeping everything the same. I hope to come back there some day and hang out all afternoon. Hopefully they’ll have a veggie burger for me when I do. I’ve changed, even if the Goody Boy hasn’t.Please post more pics of the interior and the staff!

  5. Owen says

    Went to Michael’s Drive In today for breakfast. It was real good. I had the Greek omelet and my buddy had the Traditional breakfast. Coffee was good and offered frequently. Service was great. I only had to ask for water. The place has a huge outdoor patio on front. We had a good time people watching. I’ll be back.


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