Jack & Benny’s brings its ‘Gut Buster,’ more to Downtown

By Gary Seman Jr.

Columbus Dispatch  •  Monday August 15, 2016 11:13 AM

Jack & Benny’s Downtown Diner has brought its signature “Gut Buster” Downtown.

A stack consisting of hash browns, a potato pancake, bacon, ham, eggs, a sausage patty and cheese, sausage gravy and comes with toast for good measure.

“These were all inspired by Ohio State students – hangover food, basically,” said Geno Garcia, a partner in the latest Jack & Benny’s, located at 12 E. Broad St., at the northeast corner of Broad and High streets.

Garcia and his wife, Hilda, christened their third restaurant earlier this month. It joins Jack & Benny’s at 2563 N. High St. in the OSU area and Jack & Benny’s Barnstormer Diner at OSU’s airport, 2160 W. Case Rd., in offering the “Gut Buster,” among other breakfast-and-lunch-oriented fare.

It was a long time coming — 17 months from the time they looked at the space to the opening date, he said. They took possession in September and planned to open in November. But installing a new hood system, and the inspections that followed, led to one delay after another.

Garcia likes the finished product, though: a cozy, no-nonsense diner with modest pricing, classic drip coffee, fresh-squeezed orange juice, nearly 30 omelets and several lunch options, including salads, sandwiches and wraps.

Breakfast, by the way, is served all day. And there are plenty of options lighter than the Gut Buster.

Only a few plates exceed $10.

And there’s a lot of history in the name, with the original Jack & Benny’s opening Downtown, in nearly the same spot, 60 years ago by Jack Sher and Benny Klein, who also owned a steakhouse in the area.

A young Geno Garcia Sr. arrived in Columbus in 1970, working for the two entrepreneurs in almost every capacity in the restaurant business. In 1994, the elder Garcia opened the campus-area Jack & Benny’s as a tribute to the two men.

The younger Garcia, meanwhile, had plans beyond the restaurant industry. He got his degree in aviation management from Ohio State University and was a commercial pilot for a few years, but he detested the schedule. The restaurant life begged his return.

“It was just the way we grew up,” he said. “I didn’t expect to do it the rest of my life.”

His father and mother, Rosa, retired and the younger Garcia and his wife took over Jack & Benny’s and opened the OSU Airport location in 2013.

For now, Jack & Benny’s is closed between 2 and 10 p.m. daily. The plan is to have a 24-hour diner but that won’t happen until September, Garcia said.

As far as supporting a 24-hour diner, “Columbus is at that point,” he said. “It’s a good time, a ‘build it and they will come’ kind of thing.”

For more information, call 614-745-2313.


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