CMH Gourmand

Eat, Drink, Repeat: Culinary Discovery & Misadventure in Central Ohio

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Requiem for Cindy King: It Is Time for Nancy’s To Become Cindy’s

Posted by cmh gourmand on April 22, 2012

The painting above hangs at the Columbus Metropolitan Library near Whetstone Park. It represents a building, that houses a diner that is the legacy of a community icon.

Cindy King moved on to a diner somewhere above on March 3rd this year. She left behind quite a legacy and luckily she had several relatives to fill her shoes and apron. There is a need for diner like she left behind in Clintonville and Columbus and many more places on our planet. There is a true democracy to diners that can’t be replicated elsewhere, created in a corporate boardroom, summarized in a business plan or taught in culinary school. The food is secondary to the community a dinner supports and connects. Cindy King was the Queen of the connectors: she watched out for young and old, knew when to chat and when to stick to a nod and a smile. She knew people and gave them what they wanted…..needed…craved: comfort, consistency, compassion and a simple meal for five bucks. Cindy is gone but her niece Sheila has taken the hand off of the ladle with an assist from her husband Rick and her sister, the girl we watched grow up in the diner, Shelli.

I had my first meal at Nancy’s when I was six. I was not back for seconds until well after college, my friends from Cleveland had discovered a place I had forgotten right in my backyard. I remedied my oversight during the 1990’s and the early aughts of the 21st century. I wrote about the place frequently starting in 2006.

There is nothing to add about the place that has not been written by countless others. Cindy King could never be replaced but the institution she created remains. She would never want a tribute, but I think it is time to show our thanks to her for all she did for our community. My guess is she may fight this from the grave but I’ll take this risk.

Nancy’s was truly Nancy’s for just a few years. Nancy’s was Cindy’s for nearly four decades….but the name never changed. For forty years, people asked for Nancy but Cindy answered. It is now time for strangers, newcomers and greenhorns to ask for Cindy….so that Sheila, Shellie or someone on either side of the counter can tell the story of Cindy King. Then that person can eat it and beat it for the next guy.

What I am proposing is a collection to get a new sign for the diner that says Cindy’s. Our community rallied to collect over $15,000 to save the diner back in 2009….let’s collect a little less to get a new sign and honor her by adding her name to the place. Nancy’s was never Nancys, especially now. Lets change it Clintonvillians…..

I’ll donate $100.00 if someone will start a tip jar for a new sign at the restaurant.

4 Responses to “Requiem for Cindy King: It Is Time for Nancy’s To Become Cindy’s”

  1. SLK said

    I ate at Nancy’s last Sunday. I have been going there for years. I found my meal to be awful. Everything tasted like dirty grill. Needless to say I was devastated. Anyone else? Maybe I was just unlucky?

    CMH G Comment: I had the homefries with sausage gravy there today. Good but not as good as the original. Service was slow but friendly (Cindy would have some comments on the speed). So still a decent diner but it lacks the character and characters of before. The only thing I could find issue with was the tag line “good enough to slap yo Mama”….really?

  2. nsc said

    A beautiful piece. And mostly I could not agree more. One thing, however, your comment “The food is secondary to the community a dinner supports and connects”. Sorry, just cannot agree. While the impact and importance of Nancy’s is, I agree, important to the community in ways beyond food, the food itself is never secondary in a restaurant. It can never be.

  3. SLK said

    I have now been back twice and everything was awesome, down to the sassy waitress! I am so happy that my fav local breakfast spot is back!

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