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RIP: 10 Restaurants That Closed This Decade (2010-2019) That We Still Miss

Walker Evans Walker Evans RIP: 10 Restaurants That Closed This Decade (2010-2019) That We Still Miss
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These 10 restaurants had the biggest impact in Columbus during their tenures and their closures during the past decade hit hardest as fans mourned the losses. Some of these restaurants were known for high-end cuisine, while others were known more for their cultural impact on the city of Columbus and its dining preferences.

Click here to jump back and read the full Top 50 list, or read on for just the Top 10 restaurants that closed and made an impact on Columbus:

10. Sage American Bistro

It had a short, five-year run from 2008 to 2013, but Sage American Bistro certainly played an important role as a testing ground both for Owner/Operator Chef Bill Glover, as well as the customers who were willing to go along on the culinary journey.

Glover may not have been the first local chef to push the culinary boundaries in Columbus, but he has quickly become one of the most awarded, recognized and influential (at his current position with the Downtown Hilton Hotel, he’s fed visitors ranging from Arnold to Obama, and has represented Columbus at the prestigeous James Beard House in NYC).

While Sage catered to a wide range of tastes (Pacu Fish Ribs, anyone?), it allowed Glover to hone his skills and make the jump to the Hilton in 2012. Glover oversaw the launch of the highly regarded Gallerie Bar & Bistro, before deciding to streamline and close up shop at Sage in 2013.

Where are they now?

The spot at 2653 N. High St. was replaced with Angry Bear Kitchen from 2014 to 2016, and is now home to Sushi Time.

Glover will oversee the the new restaurant program inside the 28-story Hilton Hotel expansion that will include a unique “open fire” concept when it opens in 2022.

9. Betty’s Fine Food & Spirits

In 2001, the pinup-themed Betty’s Fine Food & Spirits launched at 680 N. High St., bringing a new era of comfort food and kitschy decor to the Short North. Known for its staples like meatloaf sandwiches, green goddess salads and loaded potato chip appetizers, Betty’s also doubled as a not-quite-dive bar where friends could gather over cheap PBRs.

The vibe at Betty’s proved popular enough for proprietor Elizabeth Lessner to co-found additional concepts like the Surly Girl Saloon, Tip Top Kitchen & Cocktails and Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace — collectively branded under the Columbus Food League umbrella. While Lessner focused on launching new restaurants (and prematurely announcing a few concepts that never opened), the Short North grew up around Betty’s, and 13 years later the cost of doing business no longer made sense for the comfort food hangout.

restaurants we miss from short north
Betty’s Fine Food and Spirits — Photo by Mollie Lyman.

In January 2014, Lessner announced the Betty’s would close within a month and relocate to a new space on Gay Street near CCAD. That plan never materialized and while Betty’s was able to stay put in the Short North for a few additional months, the final meals were served there in July 2014.

Where are they now?

Lessner left Columbus in 2015 to pursue other restaurant industry opportunities out of state. The space at 680 N. High St. became the first Brassica location, which opened in September 2015.

8. Surly Girl Saloon

The second restaurant concept from Elizabeth Lessner (along with Co-Owners Carmen Owens and Marcy Mays) was The Surly Girl Saloon — another comfort food spot located a little further north at 1126 N. High St. In 2005, this area of the Short North was not quite a place where too many people wanted to spend a lot of time after dark, and Surly Girl served as a respite from some of the neighborhood’s rougher edges.

While Surly Girl had plenty in common with Betty’s, the decor was a bit more “cowgirl” and the menu had a bit of a tex-mex flair. Frito Pie, Taco Salads and Cajun Meatloaf added a little spice while still appealing to a broad spectrum of customers. Additionally, Surly Girl boasted a back room that hosted private parties, open mic comedy nights and other events.

top restaurants that we miss

In 2015, the business celebrated 10 years, but the three owners were ready to move on to other projects and proclaimed that the time had come to hang up the spurs.

Where are they now?

Marcy Mays launched Ace of Cups in 2011, and Carmen Owens is hosting the SheCreature Cocktails pop-up tiki bar at AoC. The space at 1126 N. High St. was briefly home to The Parlor Room, which was later replaced by The 1126 sushi bar.

7. Blue Nile

While African restaurants are not hard to come by today in Columbus, the options were much more limited back in 1995. When the Blue Nile opened (first on Main Street, but with a quick relocation to the Old North neighborhood in 1996), plenty of local diners had no idea what to expect from Ethiopian Cuisine. The restaurant was warmly embraced by open-minded customers that loved the family-style services with a side of injera.

In March 2013, the Blue Nile closed unexpectedly at 2361 N. High St. after an 18-year run.

Where are they now?

The spot at 2361 N. High St. was home to Cafe International for several years, and is currently home to New Taj Mahal.

6. The Clarmont

The Clarmont was a Columbus institution. In fact, we have an entire article by award-winning writer/historian Doug Motz devoted to the memory of this restaurant, so we won’t spend too much time recapping. The tl;dr version is that this steakhouse was a place for business and civic leaders to see and be seen, and where customers could always expect “Vivian at the Organ” for live musical entertainment.

top steakhouse in columbus
Rendering of the Clarmont redevelopment project.

In 2007, current owner Thom Coffman proposed a plan to have the building at 684 S. High St. demolished and replaced with a multi-story mixed-use condo project that would include a new and improved Clarmont restaurant on the ground floor. The National Recession hit just a few years later and the project never got off the ground, while the economic decline hit upscale restaurants particularly hard. The Clarmont closed up shop in January 2012.

Where are they now?

684 S. High St. has been home to a Panera location since February 2014.

5. Haiku

In 1998, restaurateur Paul Liu brought sushi to the Short North with the opening of Haiku. The restaurant embraced the neighborhood by being a strong supporter of the arts, and in turn the neighborhood embraced the restaurant.

Prior to the development of new buildings with rooftop patios, Haiku was one of the few spots in the Short North with a substantially-sized outdoor dining area. The intimate space was well-decorated and lantern-lit for cozy evening ambiance, while a water feature transported guests away from High Street into a different kind of atmosphere.

top restaurants that closed in short north

In addition to fresh sushi, Haiku offered a variety of Pan-Asian dishes ranging from Pad Thai to Udon Noodles to Fried Rice. And of course, the bar offered a variety of cocktails, sake, and sake-tinis.

In 2015, Liu began shopping around ideas to redevelop Haiku’s parking lot with a multi-story, mixed-use building, eventually landing on a plan in 2016 that would demolish the restaurant entirely and replace it with a 10-story building. A month later, Liu announced that Haiku would close by the end of 2016 as he had made arrangements to sell the property for development and retire.

Where are they now?

The original Haiku building is long gone, and has been replaced with the aforementioned 10-story building that is now home to a Moxy Hotel with coworking office space and a Townhall restaurant opening soon.

4. The Blue Danube

The #1 most well read story of 2018 on Columbus Underground was the announcement that The Blue Danube (commonly referred to as “The Dube”) was closing. This Old North Columbus landmark had been a staple for OSU students for 78 years and the news of its departure hit every living alumni like a ton of bricks.

The initial news wasn’t entirely all bad though. The owners wanted to give the community a month’s notice so that anyone interested in stopping by for a final meal could still do so, and the building’s owner, Steve Margetis, stated that he was already working toward a re-opening in some fashion under new management.

favorite restaurants that closed

Unfortunately, that final run was cut short and the business had to close abruptly on May 22. In the year following the closure, little progress appeared to have been made toward a re-opening, and Margetis unfortunately passed away on July 23, 2019.

Where are they now?

The building at 2439 N. High St. remains empty as of the time of publishing this article.

3. Kihachi

There are some pretty significant sushi restaurants on our list, but none regarded quite as highly as Kihachi. Opened in 1993 by Chef Ryuji “Mike” Kimura, Kihachi quickly established a following as one of the top restaurants in Columbus. Tucked away in an unassuming strip mall at 2667 Federated Blvd. (just off Sawmill Road near Dublin), Kihachi was a transformational experience that whisked customers to the other side of the world.

In 2010, Anthony Bourdain filmed part of an episode of his No Reservations show in Columbus (jump to the 7:10 mark), and Kihachi was one of the few stops that he made. The dishes prepared by Chef Kimura blew him away, elevating Kihachi to new local audiences as well as visitors.

top chef in columbus

In 2017, Chef Kimura announced that Kihachi was for sale as he was looking for an exit from the business. In late 2018, he closed the restaurant after a 25-year run.

Where are they now?

To our knowledge, the restaurant space at 2667 Federated Blvd. is still sitting empty as of the time of publishing this article.

2. Rigsby’s Kitchen

When Rigsby’s opened in 1986, the Short North looked nothing like it did today. The connective tissue of neighborhood galleries and businesses stretch all of two blocks and Gallery Hop’s third year included only a handful of art galleries.

Still, Rigsby’s didn’t need to rely on existing foot traffic to be seen as a success. Chef and Owner Kent Rigsby attracted a following across the entire region, drawing newcomers to the neighborhood to experience his creations.

top restaurants in the short north

While primarily known for its upscale Italian cuisine, Rigsby’s was equally seen as a place to grab a cocktail at the bar (especially on Oyster shucking nights), or grab a power lunch during the weekday.

In November 2015, Rigsby announced that he would be abruptly closing his namesake restaurant after 29 years in business. A month later, he filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which outlined the extent of the financial issues that had grown at the business over the years.

Where are they now?

Kent Rigsby has served as the Executive Chef at The New Albany Country Club since November 2015, and the space at 698 N. High St. was converted into Harvey & Ed’s which also recently closed after a short run. An unannounced Cameron Mitchell restaurant concept is slated to open there sometime in 2020.

1. Alana’s Food & Wine

Other restaurants had a longer run, but Alana’s was one of the most influential and highly-praised establishments to exit the scene between 2010 and 2019. Chef Alana Shock launched her namesake space in 1999 alongside husband and sommelier Kevin Bertschi, and it immediately stood out as a destination for foodies. Her menus were constantly changing — based upon fresh ingredients sourced every morning as well as mood. The daily menu was often laced with jokes and snark, balancing the high-end cuisine with a healthy dash of irreverence.

top ten restaurant alana's food and wine
Photo by Rebecca Wagner.

First-time visitors to Alana’s may have thought they were in the wrong place. The converted house at 2333 N. High St. was practically next door to OSU, which is not well known as the city’s culinary mecca, and the dining room spaces felt like you were eating in someone’s living room. The homey style certainly had a specific charm to it, but it felt nothing like similar upscale restaurants of the same era.

In 2015, Shock announced possible relocation plans to downsize the footprint of the restaurant, declaring boldly that “fine dining is dead.” The relocation didn’t pan out and a year later the business was closed and listed for sale.

Where are they now?

Bertschi opened a wine shop in Sandusky while Shock has had a whirlwind of activity that includes a series of events at Jorgensen Farms, cooking classes in Belize, and even a part-time bartending gig at Cedar Point.

The space at 2333 N. High St. was renovated and opened as Trillium from 2017 to 2019 and is currently vacant as of the time of publishing.

Which restaurants do you miss most? Which restaurant didn’t make our list that you think should be remembered? Leave a comment below!

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