The List: 65+ Central Ohio Bars & Restaurants that Closed in 2020
It’s well-known that 2020 has been a difficult, if not impossible, year for the restaurant industry. As such, this year’s closings list is much lengthier than in years past.
Unfortunately, this could just be the beginning of an equally as bummer list in 2021 as the pandemic stretches on.
So raise a glass and grab a tissue as we run down the bars, restaurants, coffee shops and more that the Central Ohio dining scene lost in 2020. Which will you miss the most?
Downtown & Short North
Downtown and Short North were particularly hard-hit by bar and restaurant closures in 2020. Stay at home orders, and the realization many folks could work from home, left Downtown largely devoid of office workers for much of the year. Mid-summer protests boarded up blocks of Downtown and Short North. Curfews and early close times dampened a bustling Short North nightlife.
Starting Downtown, Gay Street and the surrounding area lost many a lunch option. Plantain Cafe closed after 10 years. A struggling Phenix Bistro said goodbye. In the alley, Belly Burger closed permanently just months after opening. Sandwich shop Si Señor went up for sale. Clintonville favorite Nancy’s Home Cooking (which closed its long-standing location in March) made its anticipated, relocated debut Downtown, only to close after two months. Heading over to High Street, near neighbors Viiza (pizza cone turned sushi joint) and the expansion of Old North favorite Jack + Benny’s both closed.
Elsewhere Downtown, One Line closed its outpost in the Huntington Center. After three years, Winans took away its coffee, wine and chocolates, and Just Love Coffee Cafe had a short-lived run, both opening and closing in the calendar year.
Technically late in 2019, tax troubles closed Tio’s Tacos and Tequila.
Heading to the northern edges of Downtown, sweeping skyline views were no more as rooftop bar and restaurant Juniper closed (along with Dock 580). Over Arena District way, MMELO departed from its first brick-and-mortar, and after nearly two decades, brewery Gordon Biersch called it quits.
Heading to the Short North, the neighborhood lost three bakeries. Laughlin’s Bakery closed after a five-year run. Happy Little Treats closed, although it has plans to reopen a mere few hundred feet down the street. Cookie shop C. Krueger’s had the unique distinction of closing twice – wrapping up shop on Brickel Street to move to High Street, where it once again closed.
Eugene’s Canteen shuttered, making room for Pocket Bar. Wine bar Tastings departed, but soon reopened under new ownership with a similar concept. Following a string of incidents, Monarch shut things down just shy of two years.
Some well-known neighborhood gems also said goodbye to the Short North in 2020. The Table was put up for sale after a nearly seven-year run. Philco also quietly disappeared after roughly seven years, with no announcement but the space listed for lease. Mission Coffee Co. made its temporary closure permanent, and moved things over to its Annex in Italian Village.
Saying Goodbye to Multiple Locations
Local favorites to national chains closed the doors to multiple locations in Central Ohio during 2020.
Fast-casual, health-focused chain Freshii went from three Central Ohio locations to one, closing in Bexley and Dublin. (New Albany remains open.)
Columbus favorite Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams closed two of its local scoop shops – Bexley, which opened in 2008, and Powell, scooping since 2010. Six storefronts and two seasonal shops remain in Central Ohio.
Florida-based Miller’s Ale House vacated the state, closing both of its Central Ohio locations in Grandview, which opened in 2013, and at Easton, which only opened last year.
Local juicer Native Cold Pressed took its locations down to one, the Short North original, shuttering both Bexley and German Village.
And lastly, Pizza Cucinova is no more. The local, build-your-own pizza chain nixed all four of its Central Ohio locations: Dublin, Easton, Grandview and Westerville.
North Market Downtown saw some shakeups with four vendors departing in 2020. Coco Cat Bakery & Chocolates was first to leave in May after a two-and-a-half year run. After just over five years, Little Eater is no more as it announced in June it would not be reopening its original location. Popular German Village bakery Pistacia Vera closed its Market outpost in August after six and a half years. The end of August was the end of The Fish Guys 14-year Market run.
2020 meant the last meals for some long-standing Central Ohio staples. SPAGIO closed in Grandview after nearly 40 years. The restaurant had been sold to Wine|Dine Holdings and cityBRANDS in September 2019. Just shy of a five-decade run, La Scala closed in Dublin, being particularly hard-hit as both a restaurant and event venue. Chef and Owner William Lalli also passed away from COVID-19 in July. On the north side, Bruno’s Pizza & Restaurant ended its 48-year run in December.
Grow Restaurants whittled its portfolio down to one concept. Both The Sycamore and Cosecha Cocina were listed for sale, leaving the focus on Harvest Pizzeria. The Sycamore sold to new owners, with plans to reopen in 2021, with no word yet on what might replace Cosecha.
Voted the best new restaurant of 2019 (since it opened in late 2018), Ambrose & Eve closed its doors in the Brewery District after roughly two years. The restaurant launched a GoFundMe in mid-November to try to stay afloat, but ultimately announced its permanent closure last week.
Just a few doors down, South High Street pioneers Kolache Republic shuttered their location after seven years. However, it was a short-lived departure as the business reopened inside The Daily Growler. (Which was made way for by the departure of Short & Stout Kitchen.)
Clintonville saw a number of spots close up shop. Deli A Common Table disappeared during the pandemic, replaced by Seitan’s Realm. Clintonville’s Bareburger closed, leaving Short North as the sole location of the chain in the state. Breakfast and lunch spot BLunch closed its doors after two and a half years. Flowers & Bread dropped its cafe in favor of a new format more fitting of the times. Growler shop and bar GROWL quietly poured its last beer.
National chain Panera vacated its spot at the Gateway near OSU’s campus.
Technically a late 2019 entry, Uncle Nick’s Greek Fried Chicken closed in Fifth by Northwest, but reopened as The Crispy Coop just up the street. Elsewhere in the neighborhood, Palle by Moretti closed its meatball-centric concept after a three-and-a-half-year go.
It was the end for Pierogi Mountain and Wunderbar in German Village, bringing things to a close after about a year and amid some neighborhood controversy.
An ending lease was the exit for Matt the Miller’s Tavern in Grandview after 10 years, though they hope to reopen nearby. Elsewhere in Grandview, Red Hook Grill quietly closed its doors and made the transition to Nile Vegan. After just under a year in business The Old Spot closed, but was quickly replaced by CLEAVER.
Yellow Brick Pizza was momentarily down to one location (the OG in Olde Towne East), closing their Victorian Village spot before recently opening in Franklinton.
Bakery Mjomi left Polaris to return to a home-based operation. Two food trucks also ended their runs. King-Lincoln District’s Los Potosinos transferred to new ownership while Sophie’s Gourmet Pierogis wound things down after eight years.
Editor’s Note: Some restaurants have temporarily closed due to circumstances surrounding the pandemic and those locations are not included on this list.