Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana

Post
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle
Double Chili Cheeseburger
2006/12/24 19:23:08
We received this note about an old, departed Roadfood favorite in Indiana, from Terry Snyder of Columbus, Indiana:

"The future of Zaharako's is up for grabs. They sold the organ at the beginning of 2006 due to having trouble finding parts and repairs. They had plans to buy another organ, but before they did the lone Zaharako running it passed on (around mid-2006 or a little later). He had been going down for some time and so did the place as some other people have mentioned (particularly in the past couple of years). At one time his mom, brother, and others in the family all worked there. Death, health and family commitments took their toll until Lew was the only one left. He had trouble keeping help and was not really able to keep up like even he wanted to. It was sad to see it waste away before my eyes. Yes, sometimes the chips were stale and the sandwiches were not as good as they once were. They had to quit selling candy because they couldn't keep up with it all. The drinks were not always available as they once had been.

Some years back the Chees Br-Grs, Coney Burgers (hotdog with the meat sauce from the chees Br-Grs with melted cheese on top), and drinks, including orangeades (which were freshly squeezed oranges, pretty finely crushed ice and sugar) were really great. I hope something is done with it, but Lew had said it was not for sale before he got more sick. Am not sure what the family intends to do with it now. Will update here if things change, but don't come now because it is closed down.
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle
Double Chili Cheeseburger
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2007/01/29 16:40:35
A further update from Terry:

"The future of Zaharko's looks a bit better. It has been purhased from the remaining family members by a non profit group in town who wants to return it to its former glory. They plan on having it restored and operational by the Christmas season of 2007. The organ will probably not be back as it had already been sold to a private collector before Lew passed away. However, it appears that they plan on updating things that need to be, cleaning it up some more, giving it a facelift, but try to keep as faithful to the old Zaharako's as it can be. They said they do not want to see another Christmas go by without Zaharako's. In the past, the decorating was done on Thanksgiving night and it was always hopping after that until after Christmas. The purpose of the non profit organization is to save Columbus landmarks and to keep them as much like they were as possible, so I think this is a good thing. I don't forsee any major changes (or changes for the worse.)"
MacTAC
Cheeseburger
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2007/01/30 01:26:21
That's great news...
UncleVic
Sirloin
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2007/01/30 01:30:08
Thanks... Nice update!
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2007/01/30 07:37:57
That really is great news about Zaharako's. It has been several years since I have last been there, so I only remember them from their heyday. And I have very fond memories of the place. Here is hoping that the non-profit organization doing the work is successful in reopening Zaharako's, but it probably won't be the same without the old organ. Nonetheless, I am looking forward to my next Cheese-br-gr and a cinnamon coke.
Louis
Double Cheeseburger
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2007/01/30 19:12:28
I went to Zaharako's for the first time in 2004. It was kind of run-down inside, but that didn't matter. The several items I ate and drank there that afternoon made the trip worth the drive. In particular--although I forget the item's name--they had one old-time soft-drink flavor that tasted exactly like an Atomic Fire Ball without the fire. It was pleasant to drink. In fact, I drank three glasses of it, along with several other old-time flavors that you can't find anywhere else.

If the soft-drink companies ever want to discover a new flavor for market-testing, they should check out this place when they re-open and then duplicate what they serve. Zaharako's offers some 19th-century soft drink flavors that you just can't find anywhere else.

I went there in October 2006 and learned that they had closed because of the owner's death. So I'm glad to hear that the city of Columbus, Indiana is going to save it from extinction.
MacTAC
Cheeseburger
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2007/01/31 00:10:43
buffetbuster said "I am looking forward to my next Cheese-br-gr and a cinnamon coke."

and Louis said "-although I forget the item's name--they had one old-time soft-drink flavor that tasted exactly like an Atomic Fire Ball without the fire. It was pleasant to drink. In fact, I drank three glasses of it, along with several other old-time flavors that you can't find anywhere else."

Could that be the drink?
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2007/01/31 06:07:43
MacTAC-
I was thinking the same thing. It sure sounds like a cinnamon coke. I know Zaharako's offered quite a few different coke flavors you rarely see anymore.
Louis
Double Cheeseburger
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2007/02/01 09:16:32
Maybe it was a cinnamon coke. All that I remember about the soft-drink was that it consisted of a bright red liquid, the same color of an Atomic Fire Ball. I was introduced to it this way: it had another name on the menu, and the girl who waited on me said that it tasted like an Atomic Fire Ball. And it did. After that, I just kept pushing the glass forward and asking for a refill.
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2007/02/01 13:17:17
Louis-
No, the cinnamon cokes I had were not bright red, so what you had was something different. I sure hope when they reopen, they put what you had back on the menu, because I was would like to try one.
Louis
Double Cheeseburger
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2007/02/01 20:23:45
If you like the flavor of an Atomic Fireball without the fire, you'll like it. I sure hope they have them when they reopen. Columbus, Indiana is about a 3-4 hour drive for me, if I don't stop along the way.
ftldave
Junior Burger
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2007/06/06 15:08:08
The red cinnamon drink was undoubtedly a Cinnamon Phosphate. I always got one with extra syrup, along with a GOM (or two), which was kind of a coney-sauce-sloppy joe on white bread. Some attribute the GOM name from old-time slang for "gummy" or "all gummed up".
Louis
Double Cheeseburger
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2007/06/06 19:04:18
I hope that's the name of it. I sure hope Zaharako's opens soon. I only got two cinnamon phosphates to go last time. Next time I'll get a half-dozen. I can't say enough about that drink.
columbusite
Junior Burger
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2007/07/04 22:07:41
Hi, I have another update. After the non profit bought it, they discovered that it would take much more money to fix it than they had at their disposal and take longer than thought. One of the members bought it himself and is going to do some things differently, but try to keep it close to what it was while improving it somewhat. It will likely be some time in 2008 before it is ready to open. He tried to buy back the organ, but the offer was rejected. He is going to try to find a similar one (it won't be the same model, but hopefully close.)
Louis
Double Cheeseburger
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2007/07/04 22:56:42
So long as they leave the recipes alone, I'll accept any changes they make.
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2007/11/09 10:53:58
Anybody have news about Zaharako's? How is the fixing up going and when are they planning on reopening?

It looks like I will be driving through there in a couple weeks and I would be thrilled if they happened to be reopened already so I could stop in.
ayersian
Double Cheeseburger
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2007/11/09 11:13:25
One of my first and most memorable RF trips! Sure hope they've reopened -- I can almost taste their Cheese-br-gr and cinnamon Coke...
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2008/03/15 18:24:23
I heard some good Roadfood scuttlebutt today. I was talking to the nice lady at the visitor's center in Columbus, Indiana. The renovation at Zaharako's is coming along well and they are due to open some time in 2009. The new owner is sinking lots of time and effort into it and it will apparently be as good as new when it reopens. But the really good news is, that they did get the organ back. Anyone who has eaten here before knows exactly what I am talking about and Zaharako's wouldn't be the same without it. I can't wait to see it next year!
Louis
Double Cheeseburger
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2008/03/15 20:16:06
This IS good news! Someone let me know when it opens. I can taste those cinnamon phosphates now.
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/01/07 15:53:49
I found that Zaharako's has a website, with lots of good photos of the renovation:

http://www.zaharakos.com/

It looks like the reopening will be in the Fall of 2009.  I can't wait!
carolina bob
Filet Mignon
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/01/08 22:32:09
Thanks for posting that website, BB. The pictures look great. I was there back in the mid ' 80s - had a cheese-brr-ger and I-don't-remember-what to drink, and enjoyed the beautiful surroundings, especially the pipe organ. I really looking forward to going back.
ChiTownDiner
Filet Mignon
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/01/08 22:43:57
BB -

I find it amazing you are on top of this...I got on there email list.  Thanks!  This looks like a roadtrip for the grand opening!
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/01/09 07:56:35
CTD-
Since the sign said reopening in 2009, I put it on my calendar to call as soon as the new year started.  The Columbus visitor's center is who told me about the website.  And yes, the nice lady did admit that she occcasionally tried to peek through the brown paper covering the windows, trying to see what was going on.

I also put my name on the email list and will GLADLY meet you and anyone else for the reopening!

nocarolina-
Sounds like you have really been around.  You would be welcome to join us.
ChiTownDiner
Filet Mignon
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/01/09 09:41:07
BB -

I checked out the website and signed up and got a nice form email indicating I would get updates as they became available.  Thanks again for the tip!
Louis
Double Cheeseburger
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/01/16 08:36:49
I'll be watching this tread.  I'll definitely show up when they open.  It's only a day's drive to cinnamon phosphate heaven.
ayersian
Double Cheeseburger
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/04/03 13:26:53
I just received a press kit from Zaharakos today, and the grand re-opening weekend is June 6-7!  Anybody making plans to visit?  Click here for the site...  Chris
mayor al
Fire Safety Admin
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/04/03 14:22:29
Chris,
  Thanks for posting the schedule. We are a tentative Yes on attending the re-opening...depending on any conflicting events that come along. It is less than a hundred mile trip for us. 
post edited by mayor al - 2009/04/03 14:23:45
Louis
Double Cheeseburger
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/04/03 18:13:30
I'll make it there as soon as I can.  If not on the day of the Grand Opening, then later that month.

buffetbuster
Porterhouse
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/04/08 09:34:28
I am very, very tempted to try and be there for the opening.  It sounds like a great event!
MiamiDon
Filet Mignon
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/04/08 12:13:50
That kind of restoration is very, very expensive.  I don't know how the owner can afford it with a real-world business plan, but I am glad that it is being done.

Take lots of pix, buffetbuster!
carolina bob
Filet Mignon
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/04/09 20:01:41
Unless I fall and break a bunch of bones again, June 6th will find me at Zaharako's. See y'all there.
RickyBerkey
Junior Burger
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/05/10 08:41:19
Zaharakos will reopen on 6 June 2009. It might be difficult to get inside for a while. This opening is highly anticipated by local residents. I would expect at least half the town will be there! The restaurant has been taken back to it's early 1900's look. He has also expanded into the storefront next door and will have a nice display of soda fountain memorabilia he has been collecting. The new owner has gone way beyond what anyone could have expected for this business and it should become a destination. What I especially appreciate is that he has respected the history of the Zaharako family who had owned it since 1900 and also taken into consideration all of the memories that generations of Columbus residents have of this place.   
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/05/18 08:29:05
RickyBerkey-
First of all, welcome to Roadfood!  Thanks so much for the information and the update.  It would be wonderful to be at Zaharako's the first day that they reopen, but it will undoubtedly be jam packed.  I very much want to get there this summer, but I will be waiting until at least a few weeks later.

We would appreciate any updates!
carolina bob
Filet Mignon
RE: Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/06/02 22:58:00
From reading Zaharako's website, I've just learned that during the Grand Reopening Weekend ( June 6th and 7th ), the place will not be open for business. That two-day period will be strictly reopening celebration events and tours of the restored building. Monday the 8th will be the first day that they actually serve food and beverages. This means a change of plans for me, as I'm not about to drive a 500 mile round trip without having a couple of Cheese-br-grs and a classic fountain drink... guess I'll have to wait until Monday.
ardee
Cheeseburger
Re:Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/06/05 13:30:52
I was in Nashville, Indiana, this week.  The Columbus paper on Sunday, May 31, had a 48-page magazine insert about the restoration of Zaharakos.
 
To summarize:
 
The Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor and Museum at 329 Washington Street in downtown Columbus, Indiana, will hold a grand re-opening on Saturday, June 6, 2009.  It has been closed for almost two years while the building and interior was meticulously restored.
 
There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 11:00 a.m., and the doors will reopen for tours at 11:30 a.m.  The festivities will continue through Sunday, and regular business hours will resume on Monday, June 8.
 
More information can be found on their web site, http://www.zaharakos.com/
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/06/05 16:18:58
ardee-
48 pages?  Man that seems like a lot.  I'm just grateful the place is reopening and hoping to get there sometime this Summer.
RickyBerkey
Junior Burger
Re:Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/06/08 11:35:50
They are up and running. Absolutely stunning, kept the heart and soul of the place but with a modern (clean) kitchen in the back and a wealth of soda fountain memorabilia in the space he added next door. Almost eveything from the last Jahn's in New York made it into Tony Moravec's collection. The Welte Orchestrion and it's new little sister are amazing. Nobody in town is old enough to remember it sounding so good!
 
They were serving a limited menu this weekend to accomodate the crowds but should be going full steam right now. All the old favorites are back and delicous ice cream is being made on the premises once again.
post edited by RickyBerkey - 2009/06/09 05:41:51
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/06/08 17:07:52
RickyBerkey-
Thanks so much for the update.  From the conversation I had with the lady at the Columbus visitor's center, it sounded like the new owner was going all out.  Can't wait to see it for myself!
carolina bob
Filet Mignon
Re:Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/06/09 20:24:46
Yesterday, I made the long drive down to Columbus IN to check out the "new" Zaharako's, and , for the most part, I was quite impressed. The renovation crew did an outstanding job; the place is simply gorgeous. The food was good too. I had that long-time Zaharako's favorite the Cheese-br-ger, along with a fountain root beer, and enjoyed them very much. The only downside was how crowded the place was. The staff was so busy making sundaes and other goodies that I had to wait fifteen minutes for my order to be taken. Here's some photos that I was able to get after the crowd thinned out... 
post edited by nocarolina - 2009/06/09 20:25:47
carolina bob
Filet Mignon
Re:Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/06/09 20:28:52
carolina bob
Filet Mignon
Re:Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/06/09 20:32:29
carolina bob
Filet Mignon
Re:Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/06/09 20:37:39
carolina bob
Filet Mignon
Re:Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/06/09 20:43:36
carolina bob
Filet Mignon
Re:Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/06/09 20:47:00
carolina bob
Filet Mignon
Re:Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/06/09 20:50:14
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/06/09 23:39:51
Nicely done nocarolina!  Great photos!
wheregreggeats.com
Filet Mignon
Re:Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/06/10 06:44:26
The place looks awesome.


columbusite
Junior Burger
Re:Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/06/13 10:02:18
I had Zaharako's last night and was really disappointed.  At least as far as the food. The Cheesb*urger (renamed the Gom Cheese brr-grr) was nothing like the old ones. It was in the sloppy Joe format with chesse on toasted bread, but there was no sauce or spices whatsoever. At least not on mine. Also, they used to put something on the bread before with a roller. Then, instead of being around $2.30 it was $5.49 for the sandwich alone. I'll pay a decent amount for a good meal. This wasn't it.

The chips were not good at all like the old Ruffles and I tried their fries which were supposed to be so good and not only were they $3.00, they may well be the worst fries I have had. It's a shame. It looks great from what little I was able to see and the wait for a table was around 45 minutes (I got it to go), but the food is not what it was. At least not what I got. I'd have thought they'd have gotten the recipes when they bought the place. I heard they had something in the Republic asking for the recipe. Too bad I didn't see it, because I have the recipe, but have never tried making them yet.

I understand that he has sunk a lot of money to the place and I am still glad. I understand even charging what he is, he isn't likely to make money for some time if at all. However, I wonder if they won't be priced so high that people don't get them. It is better to sell 100 sandwiches at $3.00 than 10 at $5.00.

I haven't tried the drinks yet, but might go in there when things have settled down and really look at the place and get something to drink, but I don't think I will eat from there again. Now, I am not discouraging anyone else from it. Maybe I got a bad batch and maybe others who haven't had the originals will like them very well. They also have other things and will add more. It looks like the picture of one has sauce, but mine sure didn't.
Louis
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/06/13 15:49:51
A good rule for visiting a new restaurant is this: stay away for the first 30-60 days.  Let the staff get the kinks worked out, let their daily routines gel into habitual behavior--particularly if they have staff that's never worked in a restaurant before.

When Peak Bros. Bar-B-Q in Waverly, KY (western Kentucky) burned to the ground three years ago, it was 20 months before they reopened again in late June 2008.   They essentially had to hire almost all new help.

Result: by wide public consensus, the food was awful, the service was painfully slow with two-hour waits, and nearly everybody wondered why it was not the same old restaurant it had been before.

Had those people waited just 60 days, they would have had a different opinion.  They would have found Peak's food quality and service had resumed to its pre-fire status: excellent.

Zaharako's will very likely follow the same pattern.  My suggestion: come back at the end of July.  I think you'll notice a big difference.

MiamiDon
Filet Mignon
Re:Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/06/13 15:58:47
nocarolina: Great pix of a great-looking place!  Would you be so kind as to give more details about the Cheese-br-ger?
 
Thanks.
carolina bob
Filet Mignon
Re:Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/06/13 17:02:47
Don, it's a pretty simple thing. Basically just an extra spicy sloppy joe with melted American cheese between two slices of grilled bread. Not much to it but still tasty, just like the one that I had at Zaharako's about twenty years ago. 
MiamiDon
Filet Mignon
Re:Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/06/13 17:14:39
nocarolina

Don, it's a pretty simple thing. Basically just an extra spicy sloppy joe with melted American cheese between two slices of grilled bread. Not much to it but still tasty, just like the one that I had at Zaharako's about twenty years ago. 


Sounds good to me!  Sloppy Joe = Saucy to me, and extra-spicy = spice to me, in contrast to another diner up-thread.  Well, everyone has their own tastes.
 
Thanks.  I may never get there, but architecturally that place really appeals to me, and I hope the owner(s) do well.
post edited by MiamiDon - 2009/06/13 17:36:57
RickyBerkey
Junior Burger
Re:Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/06/16 14:48:54
Prices are just a little too high for many. Won't hurt them now but maybe later, I just cant see anyone taking a big family there, it would hurt the pocketbook. The recipes are not quite the same, but maybe they just wanted to upgrade it a bit. The old GOM sandwiches and Cheese Brrrgrrrs were pretty weird but beloved! They used to fix all their grilled sandwiches on this one little old machine, don't think they ever cleaned it ;) There are still Zaharakho family members  around the area so I'm sure they have the recipes and advice if they need it. 

Columbus is just glad it's back and we are probably already taking it for granted! It's worth a trip from just about anywhere!
Davydd
Sirloin
Re:Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/06/16 17:25:43
MiamiDon
Thanks.  I may never get there, but architecturally that place really appeals to me, and I hope the owner(s) do well.

Don, If you are still planning on going to Cincinnati for a visit, Columbus is an easy drive to get to and is an architectural wonderland for such a small city thanks to Cummins Engines bankrolling architect fees of famous architects worldwide over the years to design many of the city's buildings public and private. It is also a good place for that breaded pork tenderloin sandwich.

MiamiDon
Filet Mignon
Re:Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/06/17 07:15:36
Davydd

MiamiDon
Thanks.  I may never get there, but architecturally that place really appeals to me, and I hope the owner(s) do well.

Don, If you are still planning on going to Cincinnati for a visit, Columbus is an easy drive to get to and is an architectural wonderland for such a small city thanks to Cummins Engines bankrolling architect fees of famous architects worldwide over the years to design many of the city's buildings public and private. It is also a good place for that breaded pork tenderloin sandwich.


Thanks, Davydd - good idea.  Yes, I'm still going to Cincinnati, just probably not this year.
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/06/17 08:53:23
Photos I took of some of the buildings in Columbus can be found, starting on page 2 of this trip report.

http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/Weekend-in-Indy-m382317-p2.aspx
MiamiDon
Filet Mignon
Re:Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/06/17 09:19:35
Thanks, buffetbuster.  Those sure are some interesting churches.  I see that Columbus is only 26 miles from Greensburg, where I'm sorta/kinda/maybe thinking of going to stop at Storie's for a BPT.
Jam
Junior Burger
Re:Zaharako's, Columbus,Indiana 2009/07/19 13:45:33

We visited Zaharako's just 3 days after they had re-opened and never having seen the original I have nothing to compare it to but I truly think it is incomparable.  What a fabulous place.  Such care given to the renovation.  No expense spared and it shows.  It is like a hands on living museum where you get to eat delicious ice cream and drink real sodas and visit with Tony who is so rightfully proud and eager to show if all off.  We didn't get a chance to eat the famous "burr grr" but hope to have subsequent visits and remedy that.  I am telling everyone don't wait until you are maybe going to be in the neighborhood, go for no other reason that this is a destination place which must be seen to be appreciated and should be named a national treasure.