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RIP: 50 Restaurants That Closed This Decade (2010-2019) That We Still Miss

Walker Evans Walker Evans RIP: 50 Restaurants That Closed This Decade (2010-2019) That We Still Miss
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As the decade comes to a close, it offers a unique time for reflection. One of the ways we’re doing that is by reminiscing with some of our favorite local restaurant businesses that said their goodbyes over the past 10 years.

The reasons for their closures varied greatly. Some business owners sought retirement while others moved on to new ventures. Either way, the disappointing effect of a fan favorite spot disappearing remains the same.

In order, here are the Top 50 restaurants, bars, bistros and eateries that closed between 2010 and 2019 in Columbus and Central Ohio that we’ll miss in some way shape or form.

50. deNOVO

deNOVO launched in 2012 directly across from the newly completed Columbus Commons greenspace that replaced the old City Center Mall. Perhaps a few years ahead of its time, deNOVO brought upscale dining to an area of Downtown that had not yet seen an influx of new apartment residents that would be arriving in the coming years. And yet, deNOVO would certainly feel the effects of construction hassles and sidewalk closures during that process.

deNOVO closed their downtown restaurant
deNOVO at 150 S. High St.

After four years at 201 S. High St., deNOVO jumped across the street to 150 S. High St. into a brand new spot adjacent to the park. It lasted another 18 months in that spot before owner Yavonne Sarber decided to call it quits, declaring fine dining as “on its way out and fast.”

While other fine dining restaurants have continued to thrive Downtown, it’s worth noting that Sarber had perhaps struggled with overextended ambitions as she launched additional restaurants concepts that opened and closed during that six year span (Manifesto, Chez du Bon, Oliver’s, Fin and Meat Bar), some lasting less than two months from open to close.

Where are they now?

In early 2018, Sarber launched Agave & Rye — a Condado-esque taco restaurant — in Covington, KY with two additional locations that have opened in Lexington, KY and at the Liberty Center lifestyle shopping center just outside Cincinnati.

The original deNOVO location at 201 S. High St. has been home to Tio’s Tacos and Tequila since May 2018 while 150 S. High St. remains empty as of the time of publishing this article.

49. Cotter’s Restaurant

Cotter’s was a go-to stop for upscale dining in the Arena District from 2004-2011. This restaurant had the luxury of being attached to Nationwide Arena itself at 200 W. Nationwide Blvd., which meant busy times during hockey games and concerts and some slower times during an era when the Arena District wasn’t fully built out with offices, condos and apartments as it is today.

After some tax delinquency issues and temporary closures in 2010, Cotter’s never fully recovered and made the closure permanent in the summer of 2011. The restaurant was likely hit with additional pressure from the Great Recession from 2007-2009 when many upscale restaurants saw a decline in steady business and struggled to adapt.

Where are they now?

A Tim Horton’s replaced Cotter’s at 200 W. Nationwide Blvd. just a few months after they closed and has operated there ever since.

48. Jobu Ramen

A wave of ramen noodle establishments swept through Columbus a couple of years ago, and Jobu Ramen was one of the short-lived-yet-delicious restaurants to come and go during that time period. Launched in May 2014 at 1439 Grandview Ave., Jobu was born out of pop-up Mashita Noodles from John Franke, along with business partner Mike Kopfman.

The restaurant opened without a liquor license and the owners of Jobu attempted an unsuccessful crowdfunding campaign to raise $15,000 to purchase a license and boost dinnertime business. Less than eight months later, the duo called it quits in January 2015.

Where are they now?

Mashita Noodles continued to host pop-up events until Franke and Kopfman moved on to other restaurant industry jobs. The space at 1439 Grandview Ave. is now home to Alchemy.

47. Salt & Pine

Another Downtown upscale restaurant concept that came and went during the past decade was Salt & Pine. The concept was the third from restaurateur Chris Crader of Harvest Pizzeria and The Sycamore.

The idea behind Salt & Pine — located inside the brand new 250 South High building — was that it would be a little bit of everything for everyone: grab-and-go breakfast for office workers and apartment dwellers in the building, a lunch spot for Downtown, a happy hour destination with a separate bar area, a sushi counter for those who craved it, a brunch destination on weekends…

salt & pine closed their downtown restaurant
Salt & Pine

Ultimately, it proved to be too vague to take hold with any one audience and struggled to find a voice before closing 15 months after it opened.

Where are they now?

The restaurant space at 250 S. High St. was converted into a production kitchen and is not open to the public. Crader has gone on to open and close several additional Harvest Pizzeria locations with another slated to open soon in the Brewery District, as well as launching Cosecha Cocina in 2017.

46. Bernie’s

We considered placing Bernie’s in a much higher spot on this list, although most people remember it as a live music venue and bar rather than a restaurant. Still, the impact of its announced closure was tremendous even though the writing had been on the wall for some time. Large swaths of land in the University District were being prepped for development and it was expected that Bernie’s would be a casualty if it couldn’t relocate. The business closed on December 31, 2015.

Where are they now?

The building located at 1896 N. High St. was razed and replaced with The Wellington — a mixed-use apartment building that contains a Target store approximately where Bernie’s had previously existed.

45. Urban Spirit Cafe

From 2008 to 2012, the Urban Spirit Cafe worked to build community in the rapidly evolving King-Lincoln District on the city’s Near East Side and to serve as a new gathering spot on East Long Street. Owner Charity Martin-King cited the national recession as having an economic impact on her business, as well as the construction related to the Spring Street bridge reconstruction project that temporarily severed traffic to the neighborhood. Additional coffee shop competition launched shortly after Urban Spirit opened their doors, including Zanzibar Brews (now the Lincoln Cafe) on Long Street and Upper Cup Coffee on Parsons Avenue.

Where are they now?

The space at 893 E. Long St. served as a string of cafe businesses that followed Urban Spirit before being converted to an office space for a HER Realtors location. Charity Martin-King left the cafe business behind, but remains active the the community in other ways.

44. The Chintz Room

The original incarnation of The Chintz Room was a popular restaurant inside the original Lazarus Department store that closed in 1998 after a 45-year run. Restaurateurs Elizabeth Lessner and Michael Hermick decided to bring back a version of it in 2014, located inside a different space within the same Lazarus building, with an address of 121 S. High St.

The restaurant failed to find a new following and closed in 2016 — not quite being a replication of the original for elderly fans, and not quite being a hip contemporary to Lessner’s other Columbus Food League establishments like Tip Top Kitchen & Cocktails or the Surly Girl Saloon.

The Chintz Room restaurant closed in 2016.
The Chintz Room

Where are they now?

121 S. High St. has been home to Burgerim since 2018. Both Lessner and Hermick have moved on to other opportunities within the restaurant and hospitality industry.

43. L’Antibes

When L’Antibes closed in 2015, it had completed a 22-year run under two different owners. Early on, this classic french restaurant was a Short North staple during an era when fine dining was in short supply for the neighborhood. Chef and Owner Matthew Litzinger decided to revamp and rebrand with a focus on more accessible food at a lower price point with Homefare, which operated from 2015 to 2017 until it quietly closed its doors without making a statement on the reason.

Where are they now?

The restaurant space at 772 N. High St., Suite 106, was taken over by The Lox Bagel Shop in late 2018.

42. Cafe Bella

Another 20-year run was achieved by Cafe Bella, a Old North restaurant at 2593 N. High St. that shuttered in 2016. This low-key Italian spot was known for being low frills and having no menu, rewarding customers with a rare type of BYOB / garden-to-table / specialities-only service.

Where are they now?

The former restaurant space was taken over by Old North Arcade during an expansion of the business in 2016.

41. La Bamba

Before Chipotle turned burritos into a weekly food staple, La Bamba served as an introduction to this dish for OSU students who stumbled in searching for “burritos as big as your head.” While the closure of the location at 1956 N. High St. in 2012 was seen by many as one more nail in the coffin of the rapidly transforming University District, La Bamba was (and still is) a chain based in Illinois. A trip to Indianapolis or Louisville locations can still serve as your nearest fix if you get a craving these days.

Where are they now?

La Bamba was replaced by Qdoba. From one chain to another.

40. Tyfoon

Circa 2004 to 2006, the Brewery District began to cool off as a nightlife and dining hotspot, and the Park Street area began heating up. Tyfoon — located at 106 Vine St. — was one of the newer restaurants in 2005 to ride the line between sophisticated dining and nightlife bar environment. Tyfoon operated for six years under restaurateur Dae Oh (Shoku, Black Olive, Two Fish, China Bar) before closing in 2011.

Where are they now?

The former Tyfoon spot was quickly replaced with BBR in 2011. Oh gradually closed all of his restaurant concepts in Columbus over the span of a few years.

39. Barrio

In 2009, Barrio launched at 185 N. High St. in a building that had formerly housed a pretty unique two-story Wendy’s. This Spanish-and-Latin-styled restaurant was a new concept from Due Amici owner Jeff Mathes, bringing a new type of accessible fine dining to Downtown Columbus. The restaurant lasted just three short years during a time when the rebirth of Downtown stumbled out of the recession and new residents and office workers had not yet arrived.

barrio was a restaurant that closed in 2012
Barrio

Where are they now?

Mathes turned his attention back to Due Amici which has continued strong on Gay Street since opening in 2003. Barrio was replaced by a string of short-lived concepts until Haveli Bistro took over the spot in 2018.

38. Dirty Frank’s (Westgate)

When Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace expanded to the Westgate neighborhood in 2014, it signaled the start of a commercial rebirth of a stretch of West Broad in desperate need of some hip new businesses to appease area residents. The restaurant concept from Elizabeth Lessner and Harold LaRue carried over the same quirky decor and oddball menu from the original store Downtown, but in a larger space at 2836 W. Broad St. that was more conducive to larger groups.

Both Dirty Frank’s locations were purchased by Nick Ailabouni in 2016, and some bad luck with building deterioration at the Westgate location forced him to close in late 2017. Residents in the area still await the arrival of more commercial businesses on West Broad Street.

Where are they now?

The original Dirty Frank’s is still going strong at 248 S. Fourth St. The building at 2836 W. Broad St. is currently being used as a production kitchen for CoverMyMeds office needs.

37. MoJoe Lounge / Cup O Joe (Short North)

The Short North Cup O Joe at 600 N. High St. served as a community gathering spot for a decade after opening on the brand new I-670 cap in 2004. The MoJoe Lounge part of the business provided bar and restaurant crowds with a more substantial food menu than the coffee shop typically did on its own. That era came to an end in 2014 when the business closed after completing a 10-year lease agreement.

Stauf’s (the parent company of Cup O Joe) President Mark Swanson cited multiple challenges contributing to the closure, including enduring the economic recession, and a lack of easy parking options that their customers had grown used to.

Where are they now?

The North Market Stauf’s location became the default spiritual successor to the Short North Cup O Joe while additional Stauf’s locations have opened in Franklinton, Downtown and in the University District since 2014. 600 N. High St. was home to Stack City Burger Bar from 2015 to 2018, and has now been home to Local Cantina since February 2019.

36. Mama’s Pasta & Brew

When it was announced in August 2018 that Mama’s Pasta & Brew would be closing in November, some reacted as if they didn’t even realize the establishment was still open and operating. Master planning efforts in the University District had predetermined that wrecking balls were slated for the little building at 23 Campus Place since early 2015. But Mama’s held on for a little longer to close out after a 41-year run.

Similar to Bernie’s, Mama’s was known as more of a bar than a restaurant, pushing it a bit further down on our list, but the impact of its closure was a big one for OSU alum with fond memories of the joint.

Where are they now?

The building that housed Mama’s has been razed along with others in the vicinity to make way for the next phase of the 15th & High redevelopment project.

35. Harvey & Ed’s

From June 2018 to October 2019, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants owned and operated Harvey & Ed’s at 698 N. High St. The concept was inspired by New York-style Jewish delis, but with a hybrid twist of sit-down dining and take-out counter service.

harvey and ed's deli closed in the short north in 2019
Harvey & Ed’s

While reviews of the food were positive, the concept never really took hold in the same way that other Cameron Mitchell restaurants have in the Short North, and the concept was quickly scrapped. The news came as a surprise, as Cameron Mitchell has closed very few restaurant concepts in a 20+ year timespan, leaving locals feeling as if they had been more a part of a test run than patrons of a new establishment designed to have long-term roots in the community.

Where are they now?

Cameron Mitchell Restaurants is already working on a yet-to-be-named concept for 698 N. High St. and is busy working on opening The Pearl at Bridge Park and the Budd Dairy Food Hall, both coming in 2020.

34. Commonwealth Sandwich Bar

The microscopic restaurant space at 1437 N. High St. saw the birth of the Commonwealth Sandwich Bar in 2011, which had a short, two-year run until its closure in 2013. While the gourmet sandwiches were a hit with customers who went out of their way to discover them, the proximity to OSU was likely not a great fit for the target audience. Additionally, while operating Commonwealth, Erik Till had turned his attention to a few other restaurant projects that never completely materialized during the process.

Where are they now?

1437 N. High St. became home to DareDevil Dogs from 2014 to 2017, and was replaced in 2017 by vegetarian joint Eden Burger.

33. Shoku

Pan-Asian restaurant Shoku called Grandview Avenue its long-time home before shuttering in 2015. This Dae Oh establishment was known for its patio as much as its sushi, and was generally one of the more well-regarded concepts from the restaurateur who had a flair for fusion projects that didn’t always mesh in a way that customers responded to.

Where are they now?

The spot at 1312 Grandview Ave. was replaced with Balboa in 2016, a SoCal Tex-Mex spot that has turned the patio into an even hotter hotspot.

32. El Arepazo (Downtown)

If you worked in the middle of Downtown Columbus over the past decade, then you knew about El Arepazo. This tiny lunch destination was known for its delicious Colombian and Venezuelan dishes and its spicy cilantro sauce. It was a big deal when the restaurant closed in late 2018 after a 13-year run, but the impact was lessened by the fact that owners Carlos and Carolina Gutierrez had opened additional locations in Gahanna and the Brewery District, both of which featured longer hours and a full bar — two things that the original Downtown spot was lacking.

Where are they now?

El Arepazo continues to exist in the aforementioned locations while the old spot at 47 N. Pearl St. was quickly replaced with new Latin flavors from popular food truck Barroluco.

31. The Worthington Inn

One of the recent closures to have the most history behind the business is The Worthington Inn, which has operated in some capacity as a restaurant since 1852 (although the ownership and current concept iteration dates back closer to a 30-year run). The closure of the restaurant was announced in December 2018 to make way for some sort of new concept, but the property has been listed for lease/sale for several months without an operator.

Where are they now?

The building at 649 High St. has sat empty for all of 2019 up until the point of publishing of this article. The asking price as of November 2019 was $3.9 million.

30. Graffiti Burger

The award for “had so much potential as a national chain” goes to Graffiti Burger. The first location launched in Dublin in 2009 from Co-Founders Jim Torski and George Tanchevski and quickly gained a cult following for its high-quality ingredients and affordable prices. As the concept expanded to multiple locations in just a few years, some fans complained that the quality suffered with the growth. Co-Founder Jim Torski passed away on October 26, 2013 and the remaining restaurants closed in 2014.

graffiti burger closed in 2014
Graffiti Burger on West Fifth Avenue.

Where are they now?

The original location at 7561 Sawmill Rd. is now a Pokebap, while the popular Fifth by Northwest location at 1505 W. Fifth Ave. is now the Press Pub on Fifth. Co-Founder George Tanchevski continues to operate Local Cantina, which has opened multiple locations throughout Central Ohio, as well as several other restaurant concepts.

29. Milo’s Deli

Milo’s was a bit of a pioneer in modern day Franklinton, having opened at 980 W. Broad St. in 1998. The comfy lunch destination was known for its no-frills menu, fair prices and amazing dessert display case. The owners announced the closure in early 2014 after a 15-year run, deciding to focus their efforts on their catering business and corporate events.

Where are they now?

Milo’s Catering is operating their production kitchen out of 980 W. Broad St.

28. The Angry Baker

In 2011, The Angry Baker helped to kickstart the intersection of Oak & 18th, a hotspot in Olde Towne East for bars and restaurants. Over the next several years, owner Vicki Hink expanded with additional locations in the University District, Short North and Upper Arlington. The University District location shuttered in 2018 and original OTE restaurant closed in the summer of 2019 after an eight year run.

Where are they now?

The two remaining Angry Baker locations were converted to Happy Little Treats by Co-Owner and Bakery Manager Erin Hall, and much of the spirit lives on under the new business. The University District location at 247 King Ave. is now home to Alqueria while 891 Oak St. in OTE is available for lease as of the time of publishing.

27. Acre

Acre launched to much fanfare in 2014 in a former fast food building at 2700 N. High St. The health-centric menu seemed like a no brainer for the Clintonville crowd and featured quite a few vegan and vegetarian options for $12 and under. A second shop opened in Fifth by Northwest at 1717 Northwest Blvd. in 2016, but never found enough traction to keep it running for the long term and closed down in the summer of 2019.

acre closed in 2019
Acre

Where are they now?

Both former Acre locations are still available for lease as of the time of publishing.

26. Clever Crow

Clever Crow began in 2009 as a pop-up pizza experiment inside Circus Bar, a now defunct live music nightlife spot that was located at 1227 N. High St. The pizza quickly gained notoriety among pizza connoisseurs for its unique, cornbread-style crust and high-quality ingredients — and Anthony Bourdain even referred to owner/chef Gary Robinette as “the McGuyver of pizza” when he stopped by Columbus during the “Heartland” episode of his No Reservations show (jump to the 12 minute mark for the Clever Crow segment).

After a year at Circus, Clever Crow expanded into a vendor stall at The North Market in late 2010. Two years later in September 2012, the owners announced plans to expand into a full-size restaurant through a Kickstarter campaign seeking to raise $25,000. The campaign was abruptly cancelled a day after it was launched without any explanation given. Two months later, it was announced that the business would be closing.

Where are they now?

The Circus Bar closed in 2014 and was replaced by the first Condado location shortly afterwards. Robinette became head brewer at the Columbus Brewing company before pursuing other jobs in the restaurant and brewery industry.

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