Roundup: Five diners to dig
With the grand opening of Stav's Diner in Bexley last week, the reopening of Jack's Diner in Lynn Alley this week, and the eventual opening of a new Jack & Benny's Downtown, we've got diners on the brain. Nearly every Columbus neighborhood boasts at least one greasy spoon, where loyal customers have filled booths and sipped hot coffee for decades. If you're looking to become a regular yourself, dig into one of these five. (And note the common theme here: they're all named after someone.)
Tommy's Diner, Franklinton
I consider it a personal goal to get my photo on the wall of Tommy's. The wall near the door is covered with photos of its namesake owner and famous visitors. Regardless of your level of fame, you're always welcome in this neon-lit diner to feast on omelets, Philly cheese steaks and gyros.
Nancy's Home Cooking, Clintonville
Nancy's served Clintonville for nearly four decades, then closed in 2009 when the restaurant needed major renovations and owner Cindy King needed to retire. But the community contributed time, talent and money to get it reopened before Cindy died in 2012. Her niece, Sheila Davis-Hahn, took over the restaurant for a couple years, but sadly Sheila died, too, and now her husband Rick keeps things running. Things may have changed over the years, but the garbage omelets and chicken and noodles continue to flow. This place is community at its best.
Fitzy's Old Fashioned Diner, Worthington
Fitzy's, the rare 24/7 diner, is your alternative to Waffle House or Tee Jaye's. Years ago, owner Mike Lott introduced all-day hours to capture nearby bar customers, partying college students and third-shifters. The weekend nights have gotten rowdy enough that he often hires a rent-a-cop to stand guard. The portions are huge at Fitzy's, whether you're ordering corned beef hash, a fried bologna sandwich or liver and onions.
George's Beechwold Diner, Clintonville/Beechwold
George's was born years ago out of the old Rube's Diner, a Beechwold mainstay known more for the grease than the food. Although George's is cleaner and more comfortable than Rube's, the spirit is still there. All the diner classics are shuttled to your table by servers who call you "hon" while they keep your coffee refilled.
Gena's Restaurant, Westerville
Gena's is hidden away in a Westerville strip mall. The menu covers all your breakfast and lunch basics: omelets, burgers, biscuits and gravy, sandwiches and more. The diner's claims to fame are the "Greatest American Pecan Roll," a grilled cinnamon bun topped with diced pecans, and its pancake challenge. You too can join the happy few who have beaten the challenge: you just have to eat three gigantic pancakes weighing about three pounds total in 45 minutes or less.
Nicholas Dekker writes about breakfast, beer, coffee and Columbus at breakfastwithnick.com. He leads breakfast and brunch tours for Columbus Food Adventures.