We’ve lived in Columbus just over 13 years. That’s not the same as being a lifelong resident, but it’s long enough to have seen significant changes to the city’s culinary landscape (remember the Coffee Table in Short North?!).
Over the years I’ve heard tell of famous restaurants that are now gone – the Kahiki, the Maramor, the Jai Lai. I experienced a few of the city’s notable eateries before they closed, like The Clarmont, Handke’s, and Betty’s. But now I’m able to catch up with the history I never knew through a new book from local authors Doug Motz and Christine Hayes: Lost Restaurants of Columbus, Ohio.
I’m excited for this book to come along as we anticipate a new Jack & Benny’s diner opening downtown, next door to the original Jack & Benny’s (read about Benny Klein and his story on pages 23-26). The book details nearly 50 restaurants that are now gone, with straightforward re-countings of memories, reviews, newspaper descriptions, and other stories. Almost every listing includes photos of the restaurant, menus, advertisements, or famous patrons. The book allows you to learn about the history and – just as important – the personalities behind these restaurants. Read, for instance, about the couple who ran the Queen Bee for decades (where Dirty Frank’s is now). Or learn about the regulars who graced The Clarmont (pages 93-100).
Motz and Hayes presume some knowledge on the reader’s part of these restaurants, but they aptly fill in the cracks for anyone who isn’t a Columbus native. The book is organized into six sections, each one focusing on a different class of restaurants: diners, neighborhood haunts, downtown favorites, lavish dining, themed restaurants, and even chains. Motz and Hayes – who supply most of the photos for the book – include a full bibliography and even some recipes from bygone eateries.
My favorite detail is how they end each restaurant description with an update about where it once stood, what happened to the building, or what’s there now. That helps me understand where these restaurants were placed around the city. For instance, when detailing the QCB downtown, they finish by saying it stood where Pizza Rustica on South High is today.)
I think this book will make for fun reading for anyone who loves Columbus, history, restaurants, and a good story. The book will released on Monday, November 30. You can find it at area bookstores like The Book Loft and Acorn Books, and many other spots.
Lost Restaurants of Columbus, Ohio, $21.99, The History Press. Available at local retailers, online bookstores, or through Arcadia Publishing and The History Press at www. arcadiapublishing.com or (888) 313-2665.
A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. Opinions are my own.