A look back: Five women who helped shape Columbus' food scene

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly
Teresa Marzetti

Central Ohio has long been a hospitable home to women in the business of fine dining. Here, a tribute to five ladies who helped shape today's food scene.

From Liz Lessner to Alana Shock, Columbus has had no shortage of female restaurateurs in recent years. Yet too often we overlook the pioneers of the past. You may have heard of Teresa Marzetti, but what about Mary Love? Or Mary Pegg? And what about Betty Parker Brown?

In fact, Central Ohio has long been a hospitable home to women in the business of fine dining. We recently spoke with Doug Motz and Christine Hayes-co-authors of forthcoming book "Lost Restaurants of Columbus, Ohio"-about several ladies who contributed to the culinary course Columbus would take.

Says Motz: "It's almost like all of the roots in Columbus becoming this great foodie city exist in the kernels of Mary Love, Teresa Marzetti, Betty Parker Brown."


Accidents-both happy and otherwise-characterize the life and work of Teresa Marzetti (nee Piacentini), who was born in Florence, Italy, in 1878. Tragedy struck in 1891, when her father-who had come to Columbus without his immediate family-ill-advisedly jumped from a moving streetcar and was run over.

"By the time they get him to the medical care he needs, he's gone," Motz says. "So, his wife and family are in Italy, and Teresa is one of the children that then comes over to the United States."

Eventually, Teresa meets, and is hired by, Joseph Marzetti, proprietor of Marzetti's Restaurant. Marriage follows in 1899. "It's definitely a May-December romance," Motz says, and in 1911, her husband dies. It falls to Teresa to hold down the fort. "So, Teresa has to run the restaurant," Motz says, adding she was aided by employee Carl Schaufele, who would become her second husband.

In time, the Italian restaurant fanned out to locations on Gay and Broad streets, but its original incarnation, at 1548 N. High St., was situated a stone's throw from Ohio State University, and students stampeded the establishment. An ad in an October 1917 edition of The Sun Dial boasted: "Marzetti's restaurant has for years taken care of the problem of feeding the students in the right way and serving them with nothing but the best at the lowest price possible."

"Apparently, it was really, really well-known for some of the minestrone soup," Motz says. "It's just really delicious food that's served well." An ad in the 1919 installment of OSU's yearbook, The Makio, makes mention of not only spaghetti and Italian pot roast, but steaks, chops, fish and "game, etc."

Fate also smiled on Teresa in the form of Katherine Hill, born in Georgia as the granddaughter of a slave. "She moved up here to find better work, a better life," Motz says, and she found her opportunity in a church. Divine intervention or otherwise, it was there Hill encountered someone who worked at Marzetti's who offered her a job washing dishes. "They needed somebody to come and help clean and help take care of kind of the behind-the-scenes stuff at the restaurant," Motz says.

Schaufele suggested Hill take a crack at baking pies. After initially expressing doubt about her abilities, Hill rose to the challenge. "She says, 'I prayed on it, and the Lord taught me how to bake a pie,' " Motz says. "She goes back to the restaurant and ends up baking these amazing pies."

A request for salad dressing followed. "And she goes, 'I don't know how to make salad dressing,' " Motz says. "Well, she starts making a salad dressing, and it becomes so popular that they have to start bottling it. People are wanting to come into the restaurant, and when they leave, they want samples of it, so they start selling her salad dressing."

By then owned by Lancaster Colony Corp., Marzetti's Restaurant met its end in 1972-also the year of Teresa's death. But the dressings Hill devised live on. By 1992, according to an article in The Columbus Dispatch that year, 8,000 gallons of dressing were made each day.

Hill died in 2006, after attaining the title of senior food technologist.


It is not insignificant that Mary Love-the founder of the Maramor Restaurant-began her career in Columbus managing a tearoom.

Love moved from Kansas to oversee the tearoom at Lazarus in 1915, and it was a moment when such establishments played an important role in women's lives.

"Ladies didn't really have that many options prior to the tearoom movement," Motz says. "It wasn't accepted to go a lot of other places outside of a church setting or maybe a charity involvement. But these tearooms offered a place where women could socialize, they could share ideas."

In 1918, Love unveiled the Maramor at 112 E. Broad St., and she kept the democratic principles of the tearoom intact.

"She had only ladies on the staff," Motz says. "She would pick only the freshest ingredients."

Her approach paid dividends. Though the establishment (which eventually relocated to 137 E. Broad St.) specialized in comfort food, the preparation was par excellence. "Duncan Hines writes about the liver and onions and about her hash," Motz says. And, in their book "A Historical Guidebook to Old Columbus," Bob Hunter and Lucy Wolfe quote thespian Helen Hayes in describing the restaurant's vichyssoise as "a soup to a queen's taste."

And the presentation was equally regal.

"Before we think about things being plated," Motz says, "Mary Love was plating food back in the '20s and '30s. It was one lady's job just to make certain that everything went out and looked gorgeous and tasted delicious, as well."

Christine Hayes-daughter of Columbus Citizen-Journal columnist Ben Hayes-went to the Maramor as a child: "You would go through this very long gift store to get into it, and it was just like a sparkling place with all these incredible candies and gifts and cards." The restaurant itself was airy and elegant, she says. "It had kind of a cream and gold feel to it-an actual feminine feel to it."

After marrying Malcolm McGuckin, Love picked up stakes for life in California, but in 1927 she headed home to Columbus, operating the restaurant until its sale in 1946 to Maurice Sher. Late in the following decade, Danny Deeds became the manager, introducing live entertainment. Although the restaurant ceased operations in 1971-and Love died in 1981-Maramor Chocolates is still in the candy business.

In 1932, Mary Pegg joined the Maramor, and over the next 27 years, rose to the position of manager. It was Pegg, a Cleveland native, whom Bob Thomas in The Dispatch called "in later years the real heartbeat of the establishment." Says Motz: "She was the guardian of the recipes, and she was the one that was making certain that everything was done to Mary Love's highest standards."

Says Hayes: "I remember her as being tall with kind of the Spanish style hairdo, her hair pulled back in a bun, kind of severely, very tastefully dressed in suits and that kind of thing, and just elegant, and walking around making sure everyone was having a good time."

Pegg's Maramor career was an entree to a different but related career: In 1959, she joined The Dispatch as food editor.

"She liked what she called 'basic American food,' " noted an obituary that ran in the paper upon her death in 1972, "and foods that 'retain their own identity.' "


Burger Boy Food-o-Rama (also known as BBF) didn't need golden arches-it had Betty Parker Brown.

The establishment was formed in 1961, when Milton Lustnauer (of Green Gables Drive-In) and Roy Tuggle (of the Mainliner) pooled resources in an attempt to keep a rival at bay.

"They got together because there was this other business coming into town that they were a little concerned about, this small place called McDonald's," Motz says. "And they didn't want McDonald's taking over their businesses, so they thought, I suppose, to build a firewall."

The food was fine and dandy-"Mom can bring the kids and pick it up and go," Motz says-but BBF achieved fame with its logo, the handiwork of Brown, the company's public relations director.

Atop the restaurants' multi-tiered sign-proudly promoting its hamburgers and roast beef-was a so-called "whirling satellite," which actually revolved. "So, you can think of the space race," Motz says. But the design suggested a multi-pointed star as much as anything else. "(Brown) was the one who came up with the logo and came up with so much of the marketing and so much of the material promoting BBF, which inside the company, stood for bigger, better, faster."

For a while, at least, Brown's logo-and the cuisine to which it lured hungry families-worked, as stores sprung up in Ohio and neighboring states. Borden became its new owner in 1969, and it soon fizzled. "It was certainly a regional answer to that, before McDonald's was really giant nationwide," Motz says. "There were other kinds of regional chains trying to fight that off, and BBF was ours."