Chick-fil-A targeted for site of Tee Jaye's Clintonville

Patrick Cooley
The Columbus Dispatch
The owner of the property occupied by Tee Jaye's at Morse Road and North High Street hopes to demolish the building to make way for a Chick-fil-A.

The iconic Tee Jaye's Country Place restaurant in Clintonville may be replaced with a Chick-fil-A, according to documents filed with the Columbus Department of Building and Zoning last week.

The property's owner submitted plans to demolish the current building at the corner of Morse Road and North High Street in favor of a fast food restaurant with a drive-through.

Tee Jaye's, which has seven other restaurants throughout central Ohio, was recently notified that the lease for its Clintonville store will not be renewed when it expires in May. The restaurant is closing.

It's unclear if the property owner plans to buy a Chick-fil-A franchise or lease the property to a franchisee.

An ownership trust, which recently changed hands after the previous owner died, controls the property and submitted the filings.

The trust's new owner, Richard Bedel of Banning, California, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The documents filed last week represent the owner's intentions, but don't necessarily mean a Chick-fil-A will end up at the corner of Morse Road and North High Street, building department Assistant Director Tony Celebrezze said.

“It just shows initially what they are thinking of doing,” he said.

The documents, which are known as a preliminary site compliance plan, give the city a chance to warn the property owner of any hurdles they might face. The owner then decides if those plans are worth the effort.

“It's one of the ways we try to give folks feedback as quickly as possible, so they know what they need to correct and adjust,” Celebrezze said.

A site compliance review is scheduled for Feb. 24.

“The applicant would take the comments from this initial review and develop a final site plan,” Celebrezze said.

Tee Jaye's President Dayna Sokol Sandsten said the new owner did not offer a reason for letting the lease expire. 

“This isn't something that we wanted, it’s something that just happened,” she said. “That property is very valuable, and we'll just have to move on and see what happens next.”

The company will build or lease another restaurant in the Clintonville or Beechwold neighborhoods if it finds the right property, Sandsten said.

The country-style eatery is one of Clintonville’s most recognizable restaurants. It’s a popular breakfast destination, and as one of the few establishments open after last call, the diner is also popular with people looking for something to eat after heading home from the bars.

Clintonville Area Commission member Jim Garrison said neighborhood residents are concerned about the future of the Tee Jaye’s sign, a massive illuminated roadside marker that displays the Tee Jaye’s logo and advertises various specials.

“That’s one of the things people want to see saved,” he said.

The 70-year-old sign predates Tee Jaye’s by four decades, and became somewhat famous in its own right through the years. The sign even has its own page on Trip Advisor.

“If they end up choosing not to save the sign, that’s going to be a big detriment on their part,” Garrison said.