After Elizabeth Lessner announced early this month that she will close Short North restaurant Betty's Fine Food & Spirits at the end of January, with plans to move it to Gay Street this summer, Kathleen Day, the owner of Katalina's, recalls the impact the bar and eatery has had on her life.

After Elizabeth Lessner announced early this month that she will close Short North restaurant Betty's Fine Food & Spirits at the end of January, with plans to move it to Gay Street this summer, Kathleen Day, the owner of Katalina's, recalls the impact the bar and eatery has had on her life.

Almost 10 years ago, a recruiter called me about a job in Columbus, Ohio. At the time, I was living and working in New Orleans, where my career had taken me via Seattle and San Francisco, all three some of the biggest food and restaurant cities in the world. And if you've been to New Orleans, you can understand how underwhelming the allure of Ohio in the winter must have sounded. But if you've lived in New Orleans, you can understand how Ohio must have sounded like Siberia, especially to this cook and food- and wine-lover.

New Orleans is the only city in America that required all its citizens to be foodies before that word even existed. And not just foodies-but to be so overzealous about the eating, drinking, learning, planning and celebrating of that very specific New Orleans food culture that you can really only experience by living there that it's true that you start planning your next meal at the beginning of the last. Living in New Orleans and its food-the food of its natives, not the food most tourists find-is like living in another country, if not another planet. People still take Friday afternoons off for a long, leisurely but formal five cocktail lunch. I'd heard that the job I would be interviewing for would require that I work straight through lunch. And dinner at times, too. I said no way Jose.

The recruiter persisted in the offer. So I said I'd take the interview. What would it hurt to at least check it out? I knew nothing of Columbus. All I pictured were cornfields.

I landed on one of the snowiest days in memory, and a driver picked me up and took me to Reynoldsburg and a nameless motel. No room service, no minibar for a Cabernet with whatever dinner I might manage to scrounge up. Things were looking dismal. I flipped through the Columbus tourism book, desperately looking for signs of restaurant life as I called my boyfriend and told him he needn't worry about missing his jambalaya and Sazeracs-there were less than a dozen restaurants that caught my eye.

Flash forward months later and the start-up I worked for showed warning signs too grim to ignore. The recruiter called to let me know that offer in Columbus had gotten even better, as those things do when you don't need them too much. The company offered to fly me back out for a "look-see" at the city and houses. Luckily, German Village architecture reminded me of New Orleans, and the Short North intrigued me.

I hung my head as I walked through the Short North, noticing a few seemingly like-minded people here and there, creative types and artists, the kind of people who make up New Orleans.

I wandered into a restaurant/bar to grab a drink and something to eat and to call my boyfriend and let him know what I'd decided, sure he wouldn't follow. As I elbowed up to the bar, a friendly bartender with tattoos and a fedora asked me how my day was and what I'd like to drink-so friendly, I felt as if I were back home. I looked up at the walls and saw rows and rows of vintage kitsch and pictures of Betty Paige. I thought back to when I was younger-I always thought of joining the roller derby under the moniker "Betty Rage."

I looked around and there were more people who reminded me of New Orleanians or people from the West Coast. The menu was eclectic and full of a whacky mish-mash of items you'd find in a dive bar in the French Quarter, plus lots of veggie stuff for the bohemians on Magazine Street. Had I really thought that Columbus was just a chain restaurant town next to fields of corn? This was my kind of place. If this place was here, I thought to myself, there had to be others like it, plus a scene to settle into and, most of all, good food and friends to share it with.

You probably recognize that place as Betty's. As I told Liz Lessner six years later when I asked her if I should open a restaurant, I wouldn't have moved to Columbus if it weren't for walking into her restaurant that day. That story's ending is bittersweet. It's sweet that Betty's isn't closing (now really, would Liz Lessner let anything go without a fight? Talk about my kind of peeps!). And Katalina's probably wouldn't exist if it weren't for her counterpart Betty's or my friend Liz.

But the story ends on a bitter note because Betty's Short North didn't have to go. Like its namesake, Bettie Paige, Betty's Short North will probably be even more revered even after her time. Like Bettie Paige and her photos, which were considered so scandalous in her time, the Short North Betty's will be spoken of with reference and affection, even by-perhaps especially by-those who didn't fight her fight. Because everyone loves you even more when you're gone. I'm just lucky Betty's was there to make me stay.

Kathleen Day is the owner of Katalina's and a stylist and brand consultant. In her spare time she reminisces about having spare time.