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Culinary Discovery & Misadventures in the Ice Cream Capital of the World (Columbus)

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Quick Byte: Thurman to Go

Posted by cmh gourmand on December 26, 2012

thurman ad

I was surprised but not shocked when I saw the ad above. I knew that Bakery Gingham had recently closed (ending the chapter on the local cupcake fad) next door and I had wondered what would become of the vacant store front. It was not left idle for long.

Since the Thurmanator became a Columbus icon via the show Man vs. Food and the book Hamburger America the lines at the Thurman Cafe have been long and the belly aching extended: “I was going to go to Thurman’s but the wait was three hours” and “The place is full of tourists”.

Now – you can get a Thurman Burger or a Thurmantor to go. The space is simple – an order counter and some menus, there are no chairs and outside some cool posters, no decor. Thurman To Go exists entirely for the production and distribution of Thurman Burgers. These oversized burgers teetering with toppings on the edge of collapse can be ordered by phone and picked up on the go. This should please some, especially those that are looking to add a notch to their food eating trophy case but don’t have the stamina to wait in line at a place that takes no reservations.

thurman 4

I say hurrah for Thurman’s and for those that can get their fix and add to their weight without adding to their wait. Consider this announcement a gift for those of yourwho have out-of-town guests in for the holidays in dire need of a famous burger or for those of you that have fled our city but are back on break hoping to reconnect with your past. If getting this burger to go fills your fix that is great. But you are missing the point and the real essence of Thurman’s.

The Thurman Cafe has been family owned business since 1938. Little had changed in the space since I became aware of its existence in the early 1990′s. At that time, the place was always crowded on the weekends but if you timed it just right you could pop in with a group of friends with a minimal delay. Back in those days, you had to wait outside on the sidewalk until your table was ready. In the late 1990′s or early aughts they bought the building next door and turned it into a waiting area with bathrooms doubling the size but adding no seating. Now the tavern has taken over a third building but still has not added a single table, chair or booth to add to the dining area – as the square footage increased the number of people served stays the same and the intimacy of the place as well as the pace of the staff remain timeless. I think there is something cool about that – how many times has a restaurant in Columbus over expanded, lost the quality of the product and the consistency of service by getting too big? I would say countless times.

thurman 2

If I have to wait to have the full Thurman experience of being squeezed into crowded two top that used to be a table from Wendy’s hamburgers in the 1980′s – then so be it. The experience I have at Thurman’s today (well last Saturday) was the same I had in 1992. And I like it that way. It is perfectly OK to get stuck in a rut as a restaurant and stick with tradition. I hope they don’t change a thing again if/when that take over another section of the building. In the meantime, when people feel that have had to wait too long, they go to Easy Street Cafe next door and have a perfectly good meal and a memory of not getting into Thurman’s and a desire to go back and try again.

Thurman Cafe
183 Thurman Avenue
German Village
614.443.1570

Thurman to Go
189 Thurman avenue
614.443.1570 x 1

Thurman Café on Urbanspoon

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