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Browning on Business: Longtime Columbus restaurant is closing

 

Janice Nelms, of Columbus, eats at Ranch House with her mother, Nellie Hydrick, on Tuesday. Janice and her mother like to eat at the Southern-themed buffet-style diner at least five days a week. The restaurant will close Sunday

Janice Nelms, of Columbus, eats at Ranch House with her mother, Nellie Hydrick, on Tuesday. Janice and her mother like to eat at the Southern-themed buffet-style diner at least five days a week. The restaurant will close Sunday Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff

 

 

Ranch House, an east Columbus restaurant whose breakfast and lunch buffet has developed a devoted following through the years, is closing. 

 

Joyce Alexander has run the business for eight years. She got emotional this week thinking about Sunday, when she will lock the door at 807 Alabama St. for the last time. 

 

"I'm going to cry," she said. "Monday morning, I'm probably still going to be crying." 

 

Though Ranch House customers swear by its food, it is a place where people do more than eat. They linger. They talk over coffee. They know one another. 

 

Asked why the restaurant inspires that type of devotion, Alexander said, "We're family." Then she put a hand over her chest and said, "I feel it right here." 

 

I asked Alexander to describe the people who frequent the restaurant. 

 

"They're just everyday people," she said. 

 

For eight years, the doors have officially opened at 5:30 a.m., seven days a week. But Alexander gets there at 4 a.m. and has always let a group of regulars in about 4:30 a.m. and they sip coffee until ordering breakfast. 

 

The Ranch hash has always been popular. The blueberry pancakes hold their own. But it is the $9 all-you-can-eat lunch buffet that people seem fanatic about. The mainstays: hamburgers steak, pork chops, meatloaf, catfish, fried chicken. 

 

On Sunday at lunch, the restaurant will celebrate Christmas. There will be, among other things, brisket, dressing, fried chicken and desserts. At 2 p.m., the lights will turn out. 

 

Alexander said she hates shutting down the restaurant, which employs about 18 people. She's 65, though, and has been in the restaurant business for about 50 years. She is ready to begin the next phase of her life. 

 

"But it's been a heck of a ride," she said. "And I'm going to tell you. I have enjoyed all of these eight years. It's been my home away from home." 

 

Let's go across town. 

 

On Wednesday, The Dispatch reported that Hobby Lobby is opening a store at Leigh Mall. Gail Culpepper, the mall's property manager, has since confirmed that the arts and crafts store will occupy an "anchor" space on the mall's south end, where Sears once was. It is expected to open in the fall of 2014. 

 

Let's end downtown. 

 

A few weeks ago, Dutch Oil Company received a permit from the city that will allow the company demolish the empty home at 804 Main Street. Not sure what the plans are. The company, which was founded in Columbus four decades ago, did not respond to messages seeking comment. 

 

Browning on Business is a weekly column that runs each Thursday. We want your input. Send items and tips to news@cdispatch.com or wbrowning@cdispatch.com.

 

 

 

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