Katelyn Kelly, an Upper Arlington resident who grew up in Clintonville, lined up Feb. 7 for one last taste of Nancy’s Home Cooking in its original neighborhood.
“This is an iconic location,” Kelly said. “It just suits the neighborhood and adds to the character.”
“Plus,” she said, “the food is really good.”
She wasn’t the only one bummed out by the recent announcement that the diner, 3133 N. High St., would close March 8 and move to 52 E. Lynn St., the former home of Jack’s Diner in downtown Columbus.
John Schmidt, an Ohio University student making his first visit to Nancy’s with friends Feb. 7, said he’d make the best of the situation, though, adding he’ll continue to visit from Athens after the move.
“We have to drive up here anyw’t I’m excited for the new location because it’s bigger and seats twice as many people as High Street,” he wrote in a post accompanying the video. “It was the only option for us at this time.”
He said unspecified problems with the space he leases in the High Street building, erected in 1920, forced the decision.
“It’s old, it’s aged, and there’s just a lot of things we can’t do to it,” he said. “It’s affecting our ability to operate.”
Hahn said he spent 2019 looking for a new Clintonville location, but all options “fell short,” in part because of costs.
“We’re just a small little diner on a beer budget,” he said.
He said he also had no luck in Worthington and Upper Arlington.
“It’s upsetting because I have quite the sentimental attachment to that restaurant because of my late wife and her aunt,” he said.
Cindy King, the aunt of Hahn’s wife, Sheila, opened Nancy’s in 1968. She closed the restaurant in 2009, but after community volunteers rallied to help renovate it, Sheila Hahn reopened Nancy’s nine months later. After Sheila’s death in 2012, Rick Hahn carried on.
Nancy’s briefly expanded to Powell in 2017, but the new iteration lasted less than a year.
In last week’s Facebook post, Hahn described how much Clintonville has meant to the restaurant. He said he did not want to move downtown but felt he had no choice, and he hopes eventually to return to Clintonville.
“I’ve thought on this and sat on this for a while, and it’s come to this point in the road where, in order for Nancy’s to be around, to stay, we have to move,” he said.
“While we’re downtown, we will continue to look to get back to Clintonville to get to a new spot ... I promise you we will be looking to try to get back to Clintonville in some fashion.”
Hahn said he expects the diner’s menu – heavy with breakfast-all-day offerings – to remain the same downtown. In honor of the previous tenant, Hahn said he will add some menu items from Jack’s Diner.
The former Jack’s space seats 60 – twice as many as Nancy’s, he said.
Nancy’s will drop weekend hours at its downtown site and instead will be open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays. Hahn said Nancy’s eight employees will make the transition downtown and that he might add one or two.
Hahn stressed that Nancy’s civic activities, including its Pay It Forward program, will remain unchanged.
But he made it clear that things won’t be the same at Nancy’s.
“It’s a new page we have to turn to, and we have to stay going,” he said. “It’s really heartbreaking because I want to stay here, but it’s just really not in the cards.”
ThisWeek staff writer Olivia Minnier contributed to this story.