"Johnny Flesch's Meadowbrook Inn: Enjoy the friendly atmosphere of one of the nation's outstanding restaurants," claims a two-column advertisement in a 1950 Whitehall publication.
Built at a 45-degree angle at the southeast corner of East Broad Street and South Hamilton Road, the Meadowbrook Inn was a one-story brick building with a hip roof and striped awnings over its windows. Its unusual positioning at 4785 E. Broad St. gave it a prominence that likely attracted the attention of mid-century, post-war patrons, including notable Columbus powerbrokers, as well as members of its next-door neighbor, the Columbus Country Club.
Chicago native Johnny Flesch's Ohio-born wife, Charity, purchased the parcel in January 1946 and subdivided it to establish the restaurant's portion in September 1947, the year the inn opened.
Whitehall incorporated as a village then and still maintained its mostly rural character, making the Meadowbrook a destination point that was surrounded by farms.
The vast Woodcliff Farm still operated across the street, with its 7,000-square-foot mansion and multiple outbuildings.
Linda Vollmer is the granddaughter of Charity and remembers playing in the basement of the restaurant as a child.
"I think the meat refrigerator was down there, and I remember (my siblings) pushing each other on a dolly," she said. "On the first floor, there was an area where the restrooms were located before you got to the kitchen. There was one of those old-fashioned telephone booths in the area."
Vollmer recalls numerous family members, including her mother, had worked there in various capacities, from bartender to hat-check girl to busboy.
Vollmer's copy of the inn's menu shows strip sirloin steaks available for $4.50, broiled lobster tails for $3.50 and a 25-cent egg sandwich.
Johnny Flesch's nephew, the late Augustine Cosentino, recalled that competition and a recession spelled the eventual end of the Meadowbrook Inn in 1960, as told by Christine Hayes, co-author of "Lost Restaurants of Central Ohio and Columbus."
In its heyday, it was essentially the only fine-dining establishment east of James Road, Hayes said.
However, high-end supper clubs that opened nearby in later years, including the Desert Inn and the Kahiki, with their themed names, architecture and exotic atmospheres, likely would have outshone the features of the Meadowbrook.
Interestingly, the Lustron Corp., maker of prefab houses, began operating nearby on East Fifth Avenue in 1947, the year the Meadowbrook opened. Its founder, Carl Strandlund, liked to live large, and likely would have made the short trip to the Meadowbrook Inn for an evening of fine dining.
In 1949, Lustron introduced its second model, the Meadowbrook, perhaps as a tribute to the restaurant whose owner shared Strandlund's Chicago roots.
The Meadowbrook building survived later as the Ohio National Bank.
The bank moved to a new structure nearby when the building was razed in 1973 to make way for a Mobil gas station. The latter eventually gave way to a Sisters Chicken and Biscuits outlet, which in turn was remodeled into the current Flowerama store.
Vollmer recalled a detailed image of the inn, using the marquetry art of inlaid wood patterns, likely went to Flesch's family after its closure.
Aside from that, the only vestiges of the Meadowbrook Inn are light fixtures, which went to the basement recreation room of Vollmer's parents, and her copy of the menu.
Memories of its "friendly atmosphere" rest now with the dwindling few who had the pleasure of experiencing it.
Steve McLoughlin is past president of the Whitehall Historical Society.