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Family Ties: Thurn’s Specialty Meats

Mike Thomas

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This article was written in Stock & Barrel Magazine prior to the outbreak of COVID-19. While the landscape of the dining scene in Columbus has been drastically altered, the stories of these long-standing generational establishments still remain.

Officially founded in 1886, the origins of Thurn’s Specialty Meats go back even further. Alois Thurn learned old-world meat processing skills working on his father’s 2-acre farm in the south of Germany. As one of seven sons, he knew that his chances of inheriting the land were slim-to-none. Equipped with little more than his expertise, Thurn set sail for the United States in 1870 with dreams of a better life in the new frontier of the American West.

Photos by Brian Kaiser

“He ran out of money when he got to Columbus. His ultimate goal was to go on to Seattle, but he never made it. He never even got out there in his life,” Albert Thurn—Alois’ great-grandson—explains with a laugh.

Seattle’s loss is most definitely Columbus’ gain, as Thurn’s iconic Greenlawn Avenue storefront and processing facility remains a local institution to this day. One of the best places in town to find authentic, old-world German fare, it’s hard to imagine Alois Thurn could have known that the shop would still be in operation when he started selling products out of his home on Front Street.

“At that time, there were seven or eight breweries in that Front Street area, and they had saloons, which were like their taprooms,” Albert says of his ancestor’s beginnings in the business. “He made sausage items that he took around to these saloons.”

As word spread about Alois Thurn’s delicious German fare, he transitioned to selling his products door-to-door to the immigrant population in German Village. From there, he secured a place in the city’s Central Market, the modern-day site of Columbus’ Greyhound bus station. This move also coincided with a new home on Greenlawn Avenue for Thurn and his growing business, which by this time had outgrown the confines of his Front Street residence.

Thurn’s meats were sold at the Central Market for 67 years, until the market itself closed in the mid- 1960s. Meanwhile, the company passed hands to Alois’ son—also named Alois—and his three sons, Robert, Paul and Leo Thurn.

In its third generation of family ownership, Thurn’s stood the test of time through the city’s industrial boom and past the midway point of the 20th century. Though the city itself was changing, the Thurns remained true to the old-world values at the heart of their family business. Still, the inevitable march of progress would have a lasting effect on the business.

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In 1957, the Thurns learned that the newly-announced I-71 interstate would likely run right through their Greenlawn Avenue property. As a precaution, the family moved their store up the street to a different location on their property, where it still stands today. In addition to securing the future of the business, this move had an additional benefit. Once the freeway was completed, Thurn’s facility was just a stone’s throw from the I-71 exit for Greenlawn Avenue.

“How do you know when you buy property in 1890 that you’re going to be on a freeway exit? It’s worked out very well for us,” Albert Thurn marveled as to the incredible luck of the business’ coincidental placement.

Albert purchased the family business from his father and uncles in 1988, but his work there has been a lifelong pursuit.

“Thinking back, I did it like a European apprenticeship. I went to school during the day, and two-to-three days a week after school I was here, from the time I was about… probably 10, 11 years old,” Thurn remembers of his youth. “I ran a meat slicer down at the market when I was nine years old. You can’t do that today. All they said was, ‘watch your fingers!’”

In his time as keeper of this family tradition that’s lasted for more than a century, Albert remains committed to maintaining the same quality standards established by his forebears, and that his customers have come to expect.

The secret to the business’ enduring success: “Hard work. A lot of hard work, and making tasty products that people appreciate,” Albert says. “If it wasn’t for the people who appreciate what we do here, I probably wouldn’t be doing it. It’s seeing the smile on their face.”

For a taste of what keeps people coming back, Thurn recommends two of the store’s best selling items: bacon and ham. Fitting with the store’s German heritage, brats and smoked sausages are also a hit. Looking for something a little more “out there?”

“Variety meats. Next week, there’s a class from Ohio State coming in here, and I’m teaching them how to make variety meats—that’s headcheese, souse, blood headcheese and different types of liver sausage,” Thurn explains. “We make a very good braunschweiger that we sell quite a bit of.”

When those students learn how to properly combine pork trimmings into the gelatinized (and delicious) creation known as headcheese, they’ll be taking up skills that have been handed down directly from the Columbus of the 19th century. As for the shop itself, Thurn’s will be around as long as Albert has anything to say about it.

“I’m going to keep going as long as I can.”

Thurn’s Specialty Meats is located at 530 Greenlawn Ave. Learn more at thurnsmeats.com.

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Food & Drink

National Brisket Day is Tomorrow!

Julian Foglietti

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Photo by Brian Kaiser

With meat shortages starting to take their toll and National Brisket Day around the corner here's a roundup of some spots you can go to to get your brisket fix.

Legacy Smoke House

With their main location in Hilliard and a food truck moving throughout the city, Legacy Smoke House is a solid choice for brisket on National Brisket Day, just be sure to get there while supplies last. Enjoy!

Pecan Pennys

Just off Main Street, Pecan Pennys is ready to fulfill your brisket needs. If your looking to feed a family though be sure to get your orders in advance as they're requesting 24 hours notice on dinner bundles.

Ray-Ray's Hog Pit

With locations in Franklinton, Westerville, Clintonville and Powell Ray Ray's Hog Pit is open for business with brisket stocked at all locations. #NationalBrisketDay is the best day!

Hoggy’s Restaurant and Catering

Located on Bethel Road, Hoggy’s will be stocking brisket for both dine-in or carryout. Feel free to stop in or stop by!

The Pit

With a new location opened up on Parsons Ave. The Pit BBQ will be offering brisket for the National day. Celebrate with some tasty brisket!

City Barbeque

City Barbeque will be offering brisket for the National day! So get excited and get ready for some yummy BBQ brisket!

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Community

{UPDATED} Indoor Dining: what’s NOT opening?

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Los Gauchos

PINS Mechanical Co.

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Hey Pinheads. We're so excited to hear that our world is beginning to reopen! Many of you have reached out asking about our opening plans so we wanted to provide a brief update on Pins Mechanical Co. While we fully trust and support the decisions of our local leaders, it’s our responsibility to ensure the health and safety of our team members and guests, while not sacrificing the experience that makes Pins, Pins! With that in mind, none of our locations will be opening in May. There are many unknowns with COVID-19 and we hope that taking this extra time will help our guests and teammates feel better about the measures we’ve put in place to keep all of us safe. For example, on top of our already stringent cleaning procedures, we’re installing UV technology at all locations (ensuring you always have clean balls to play with). We’re looking forward to welcoming back our kick-ass team to train and adjust to this new normal. Once our people feel comfortable + confident, we’ll know it’s time to get rollin’ again! Thank you for your incredible support, online sales, photo shares + kind words over the last two months. Even when you couldn’t show up, you showed up and we’ll never forget it! We’re hopeful that everyone will be safe and smart as we begin to reopen the doors to the small businesses that make our communities so special. See you soon, Pinheads!

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Old North Arcade

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Dear friends, . As you are most likely aware, Governor DeWine has permitted the reopening of bars and restaurants for dine-in seating effective 5/21. We are very grateful that our leadership is now offering businesses the choice to do what they think is right. We offer no judgment for the bars and restaurants that are/have chosen to open. However, for our particular business, and for our staff, we still think it's too early. We are going to remain closed this week and next but do hope to open soon. Your understanding and patience is greatly appreciated and we cannot wait to see you all. It is important to us that we apply an extra layer of safety and precaution on top of the govermental recommendations. Tentatively, we are looking at the end of May to reopen in a very limited capacity but we're following local and national developments very closesly so will be quick to bail if things turn south. Your continued support has been quite humbling. Thank you. Stay healthy, support local, and be more than kind to one another. . Cautiously optimistic, . ONA Staff

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Watershed Kitchen + Bar

101 Beer kitchen

They are delaying opening dine-in service until May 26th.

Matt the Miller's Tavern

Stay tuned on social for patio and dine-in updates!

J. Gumbo's

J. Gumbo's will continue to stay open for online ordering for pick up and delivery - stay tuned for dine-in updates.

Mouton on High

The Whitney House

The Whitney House will be opening Tuesday, June 2, 2020 at 11 am.

The Guild House

Stay tuned for opening dates!

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Stay safe everyone 💕

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Smoked On High

Dirty Frank's Hot Dog Palace

The Woodbury

The Woodbury will be opening its doors for dine-in service on June 1 2020.

Roosters

Roosters are not opening dine-in until May 26th 2020.

The Eagle

The Eagle is temporarily closed - stay tuned on social for updates!

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In light of the government mandated closure of dine-in business for an indeterminable period of time, we’ve made the incredibly hard decision to temporarily close The Eagle Columbus. . Given the truly unprecedented and quickly evolving nature of this health crisis, we’ve been forced to make the best decisions we can, with the information we have. As the true scale of this crisis has been revealed, it’s become impossible to deny the impact this mandate will have on our business and team members. This decision was made as all of our decisions have been: with the health, happiness, well being and best interests of our guests and team members in mind. . The state of Thunderdome Restaurant Group is strong and we look forward to seeing and serving you all on the other side of this. Truth, courage, and be well.

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Lavash Cafe

Tiger + Lily

Tiger + Lily is sticking to carry out for the time being. Follow them on social for updates for dine-in!

Yats Grandview

Red Lobster

Red Lobster is continuing to stick to curbside pickup, delivery, or touchless pick-up.

Harvest Pizza

Bareburger Columbus

Bareburger is opening for dine-in on May 26th, 2020.

Mezze

City Barbeque

Local Cantina - Creekside, Grandview, Dublin, Westerville, Hilliard Locations

Creekside Local Cantina is delaying opening indoor dining until May 26, 2020.

OH Pizza and Brew

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Coronavirus

Don’t be that guy/gal who forces your favorite bar/restaurant to permanently close; here are the rules

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Once the flood of COVID-related documentaries start to infiltrate our Netflix and Hulu feeds, one of the most debated topics will be which smoking gun the auteur chooses. NBA player Rudy Gobert recklessly rubbing his hands over every microphone during a press conference days before testing positive comes to mind first. The spring break bro who wouldn’t let the virus stop him from raging will make its rounds. Even the scene at Standard Hall made some people’s skin crawl.

The Ohio Investigative Unit will be doing its best to monitor situations at restaurants and bars in order to prevent any future anecdotes like the ones listed above. Local law enforcement agencies will be assisting the OIU to make sure that establishments are complying with the Dine Safe Ohio order. With the issues that were brought up following the opening of outside dining on May 15, the OIU has made specific stipulations for patrons to follow:

  • 6-foot social distancing between employees AND members of the public
  • patrons must be seated while eating and/or drinking 
  • no more than 10 people to a table
  • no billiards, video/arcade games, dancing, or card playing
  • patrons must follow specific guidelines put in place by restaurant/bar

For those who have no shame dancing by themselves in public, you’re golden. However, patrons can be written up for not following the OIU’s guidelines. 

Some people may be able to shoulder a citation, but bars and restaurants are the ones who have the most to lose here. In a press conference on May 18, Gov. Mike DeWine mentioned that OIU will issue citations that could result in the permanent loss of liquor licenses.

So once again the ball is in the consumer’s court: follow these very simple rules and avoid the risk of putting your favorite restaurants and bars out of business for good. In 2020, being spring break bro is the worst look.

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