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Ghostwriter Public House brings “refined rustic” cuisine to Central Ohio

Melinda Green

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Denise and Dennis Blankemeyer have been passionate about hospitality their whole lives. Now, they’ve poured that passion into Johnstown’s newest restaurant: Ghostwriter Public House.

Ghostwriter is a study in juxtapositions—the white and charcoal interior, the interplay of light and shadow, the sheer and heavy textiles, the “refined rustic” menu. One thing that doesn’t need a foil, though, is the warmth of its spirit. Their hospitality shines through.

“The biggest compliment we got, right out of the gate, was that it seemed as if we’d been open for years, just how everybody was working in sync together,” Denise said.

The Blankemeyers have a history of putting their passion into action. They started their Crow Works furniture business in the 1990s, moving from retail into design and manufacturing, and eventually purchasing a manufacturing facility in Killbuck, Ohio, surrounded by a 100-acre farm. The Blankemeyers moved their corporate offices to Johnstown in early 2019 and opened Ghostwriter in November.

“It’s just something we always wanted to do, open a restaurant,” Dennis said. Denise laughed. “I don’t think a single person said ‘Hey, that’s a great idea,’” she added. But they view it as the ultimate creative expression: Designs, flavors, sights, smells and a welcoming atmosphere.

“We thought, if we don’t make money on the restaurant, that’s okay; we can use it as a marketing space,” Denise said. “We could take that leap of faith, knowing that it wasn’t our livelihood.”

Local art and artisanship is big at Ghostwriter. From the art on the walls, to the ornate frames around the televisions, to the brass beer tap handles, to the Crow Works furniture, to Dennis’ custom designed footrail, nearly everything that can be locally sourced has been. Of course, that extends to the food as well, with the majority of the menu procured from Ohio farms.

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So why the name? “A ghostwriter is someone who writes the story but doesn’t take the credit,” Dennis said. “Immigrants picking grapes, beer makers, people you don’t see in the back washing your dishes, there’s a whole team of people who are very passionate, but they don’t get the credit, and it’s a nod to them.”

The space is both lively and relaxed. Ghostwriter has not one, but two full bars—one in the front of the building and one next to the open kitchen. The bars operate on speed wells, and in place of a backdrop of bottles, two large televisions display ambient imagery.

“Oftentimes when we grab a bite to eat, we like to sit at the bar because there’s more energy there,” Denise said. “We knew we were going to do the main bar, but with the open kitchen, we felt like there wouldn’t be enough energy on that side, so we threw in another bar.”

The Blankemeyers took the same approach to hiring that many successful restaurant owners have taken in recent years: find a great chef and a great general manager, and let them build and lead their teams with a minimum of interference.

Chef Brett Fife, formerly of Lindey’s in German Village, built his team almost entirely from kitchen staff he had worked with in the past, ensuring a solid foundation from day one. “It’s like having my own restaurant, without having to put up the capital,” he said. “This is my style, elevated tavern food. The ideas are approachable, but there may be some unique ingredients involved.”

Building the front-of-house staff was a little harder. “Here in a small town, there are fewer applicants, and finding experience has been the biggest challenge,” General Manager Coty Gilchrist said. “I’ve focused on personality and character, something genuine, laid-back, and warm, and I’m happy with the team I have.”

This is a place that balances a modern, urban aesthetic and dining concept with small-Midwest-town friendliness. On the night of the Johnstown Santa parade, the restaurant was sufficiently busy, yet the customer service was warm and welcoming. Servers made a point to learn guests’ names. Strangers struck up conversations. I ordered a smashburger at the bar and talked for over half an hour with the mother of one of the bartenders, there for her fourth visit. “I’m working my way through the menu,” she joked. She’s not alone—Ghostwriter already has a good handful of regulars.

Their cocktail menu is straightforward, with a handful of seasonal specials. They don’t water down their drinks or shortchange you on the booze, either; the cocktails pack a delicious wallop.

The Blankemeyers are risk-takers, and their future plans are bold. “There’s lots of layers here,” Dennis admits. They plan to eventually use hardwood offcuts from their furniture manufacturing to fuel the restaurant’s grill works, for a true zero- waste manufacturing process. They also plan to create a sustainable farm on the land surrounding the manufacturing plant, growing their own vegetables and fruit trees, even livestock, eventually making the restaurant farm-to-table. It’s a perfect plan to grow their passion for hospitality.

Ghostwriter Public House is located at 491⁄2 Main Street in Johnstown. Learn more at ghostwriterph.com.

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Food & Drink

Rémy Cointreau presents: The Sidecar

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**SPONSORED**

We teamed up with Rémy Cointreau and local bartender, Ben Griest, from Giuseppe’s Ritrovo to bring you an icon of cognac cocktails. Ben's previous videos featured the art of margarita-mixology, and now we are moving on to another tasty cocktail. This timeless, opulent drink is well-balanced and fresh.

With National Cognac Day coming up, we figured it would be great to share, Rémy Martin 1738 presents The Sidecar.

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Food & Drink

National Brisket Day is Today!

Julian Foglietti

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Photo by Brian Kaiser

With meat shortages starting to take their toll and National Brisket Day here at last - we've gathered 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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{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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