Residents haven't set foot in a local Ritzy's since the last restaurant left the central Ohio market in 1991.

But Ritzy's -- which started in Columbus as G.D. Ritzy's in 1980 -- returned to Ohio on Sept. 6 with a restaurant at 4615 N. High St. in the Clintonville neighborhood. It joins six other franchised locations that still exist -- three in Evansville, Indiana; two in Owensboro, Kentucky; and one in Huntington, West Virginia.

Bryan Webb, the son of founder Graydon Webb and a member of the management team, is running the local restaurant with his brother, Corey, and a family friend, Drew DeVilbiss.

While some things have changed, the general philosophy remains the same, they said.

"We wanted to freshen up the concept but not the food," Corey Webb said.

The bread and butter of the operation will be burgers, fries, ice cream, milkshakes, coney dogs and fountain pop served over ground ice, the same as in days of yore.

Though the menu essentially has not changed from the 1980s, Graydon Webb said, he thinks the menu will be more popular now.

"It all comes down to creating something special out of everyday items," he said. "We don't have a lot of strange flavors or strange things. That's our goal -- to take simple foods and do (them) unusually well."

The burgers are made with a proprietary blend of ground beef, buns are baked in-house, shoestring fries are fresh and hand cut, and the 48 ice creams -- 16 available at all times -- are made locally using the family's recipe.

"The ice cream is better because there is more cream in it," Graydon Webb said.

Friends Jim Grunenwald and David Stevens were waiting in line for the opening Sept. 6.

"It was kind of like a hangout after school," said Grunenwald, a 1987 graduate of Watterson High School. "I hope it's as good as I remember."

Stevens, who grew up in Findlay, said a Ritzy's was in his neighborhood, too.

"It was phenomenal," he said.

Storm clouds were gathering and rain began to fall as Greunenwald and Stevens were waiting outside.

Just then, Stevens' grandmother, Eve Davis, got in line.

Asked if she was excited about the opening, she replied: "Obviously we're standing out in the rain. What do you think?"

Graydon Webb said former employees and customers were streaming through through doors all day, wishing him well and reminiscing about bygone days.

"What's neat is the people say this reminds them of the of the old place, but it's not quite the same," he said.

The space is small -- 42 seats inside and 20 seats outside -- and has a small parking lot, but the anticipated dine-in time will be about 20 to 30 minutes, so the turnaround on seats will be quick, the Webbs said.

They also expect a robust carryout business.

Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. For more information, call 614-754-8960.

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A self-described chili fanatic will put his skills to the test when he opens a downtown Columbus restaurant this fall.

Dave Rice is hanging up his camera and picking up a ladle when he opens Buckeye Chili & Smokehouse in the former Hungry Soul Cafe, 30 S. Young St.

A late October opening is planned for the restaurant, which will have a full bar.

"I love chili spaghetti," Rice said. "I've always just made it at home (and) made it for my friends, and they'd get upset that I wouldn't have (them) over often enough and said I should open a restaurant."

He is quick to emphasize that his chili is of the savory, not sweet, variety, which is used on coney dogs, tater tots, spaghetti -- "pretty much everything." And it gets an abundance of freshly shredded cheddar.

"You've got a lot of flavors going on there," Rice said.

The chili also will be available by the bowl in regular, spicy, beanless and vegetarian options.

All meats will be smoked in an Alto-Shaam Combitherm oven, which will be located indoors but will vent the smoke outside.

The menu will include smoked pulled pork, brisket, rib-eye steak, chicken wings and pig "wings," or shanks.

The 3,800-square-foot space was, for a long time, home of the Inn Between. It is a block east of South Fourth Street, somewhat obscured from any pedestrian or vehicular traffic.

Rice said customers who are in a hurry would wait only a short time for their meals.

"The beauty of that is the chili's already made, the smoked meat is already made, so most of the menu is quick service," he said.

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Mofongo, a Puerto Rican dish that is hard to find in central Ohio, will be one of the specialties at Taste Bay Caribbean Food in northwest Columbus.

The independent restaurant, set to open in October, takes over the former Firehouse Subs at 1132 W. Henderson Road.

Owner Miller Montoya said the menu will offer dishes from the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Colombia, Mexico and other countries.

Montoya cautioned that he is not afraid to spice up dishes.

The restaurant will seat about 70 people. Most dishes will cost $8 to $12.

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Breakfast and lunch services have been phased out at the MoJoe Lounge, which is part of the Cup O Joe coffee house, 149 S. High St. in downtown Columbus.

Pastries, bagels and other baked goods still are available at the location.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary