No More Nancy’s
Posted by cmh gourmand on May 31, 2009
There is no longer a Nancy’s. To be honest, there has not been a Nancy at Nancy’s since the Nixon Administration. Cindy King bought the Clintonville diner in 1970. (The place reopened in early 2010 under new ownership).
In early April, Cindy announced that Nancy’s would be closed effective June 1st. Within a day local newspapers and television reported efforts to save the community icon. Cindy reported her restaurant retirement was due to debts incurred from health problems as well as the need for mandatory renovations and upgrades to the diner required by the City of Columbus. The estimate to bring the diner up to code exceeded $40,000.
The Clintonville Chamber of Commerce held a fund raiser at the restaurant on April 24th, raising over $3,200. People poured in to offer help, make donations or whatever was needed. Some traveled far to have their last meal at Nancy’s. Offers of free materials and labor to get things up to spec came from a home improvement store, firefighters, pipefitters and neighborhood handymen.
A Facebook page was started which quickly amassed 4,000+ members and hundreds of messages of support in a matter of weeks.
A Kegs and Eggs Event was held on May 23rd at local watering hole Patrick J's as a fund raiser.
I wrote about Nancy’s several times for different publishers. I ate there for the first time when I was 5 or 6. I recall a relative remark how impressed they were that I cleaned my plate (a trend that never ended). I did not return until after college when my most of my friends migrated to Clintonville. We would meet up at Nancy’s on the weekends when other friends came back to town. As lives changed, I often ate there solo when I needed a quick comfort meal on the go or if I just needed a reminder that there is community in Columbus or needed a reconnection to Clintonville.
What Nancy’s was about: my friend who had (“coke no ice” was his Nancy’s name) Cindy and company cater his wedding; pouring your own drink or making your own change when needed; not getting flustered if you had to wait and eating fast so others would not have to wait; and paying one price when I wore my OSU sweatshirt with jeans in student mode but forking out another price when I was dressed for work.
There were rules at Nancy’s: No Menu, No Michigan fans, No Credit cards…. If you “got them” you were in.
If you did not get the culture of Nancy’s you never went back. If you did not get it, you probably missed the litmus tests for other life lessons. The food was good. Over the last couple years, it sometimes was just OK. But Nancy’s was not about the food – it was about mojo and spirit and the melting pot of people that would never rub elbows together elsewhere.
“The thing is”, whether or Nancy’s was saved or lost, it was already gone. Nancy’s was always Cindy’s. So if there is no Cindy ladling chicken noodles (and for old timers Ed making garbage omelets and real home fries with sausage gravy) there is no more Nancy’s. In Clintonville, there will be mourning Monday morning (June 1st) but the time has come to say goodbye. It is the end of an era.
What counts is that in a “It’s a Wonderful Life” style, the community rallied and tried the save a memory. That is the best way to say thanks. At the end, over $10,000 was raised for the cause. The money will be donated to a Clintonville area charity. Since Cindy is declaring bankruptcy, she can not use the money for the restaurant.
Chicken and Noodles really is good for the soul..it made a difference to so many people, so many times.
I do wonder what will happen to George, a customer who has probably eaten at Nancy’s almost every day in this decade and mostly likely many decades before. The “eat it and beat it” sign, belongs in a museum or another spot that places people over profit. The signs of demise were on the wall based on what was off the wall in May – years of autographed photos from OSU athletes and local celebrities were missing.