Business Profile – Zeno's

By Mary Martineau

Zeno’s has occupied a corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and West Third Avenue for the past 26 years. The familiar red and white striped awning beckons patrons to this longtime neighborhood establishment. Zeno’s is a family affair for Dick and Sandy Allen, who have had various business partners over the years but now independently own and run the tavern with the help of their sons. The Allens’ oldest son, Tucker, was once employed at the tavern and still helps out with projects on occasion (installing the flat screen televisions being the most recent one) when he is not at his job at nearby distributor, Superior Beverage Group. Middle son, Mitch, is the manager who handles day-to-day operation of the bar. Meanwhile, their youngest son, Quinn, recently graduated from the Columbus State Culinary Institute and is having fun influencing the menu of the joint.

Zeno’s garnered its moniker from one of the former partners, Steve Zeno. Dick Allen liked the ring of the name, “Zeno’s,” and the rest is two-plus decades of history. According to Sandy, prior to becoming Zeno’s the iconic corner building was the J & J Grill, owned and presided over by Everett Clemmons. Before that, it was the N.E. Shoppe Bakery, which made, among other things, White Castle hamburger buns. But for the past two and a half decades it has welcomed in folks from all walks of life and invited them to take a load off, have a pint, throw some darts, shoot some pool or shake it on the dance floor according to their inclination.

The regulars—who tend to collect for happy hour earlier in the evening when the place is full of Harrison West residents—like Zeno’s for its “Cheers”-like atmosphere. “We have had some of the same customers coming in for 26 years,” says Sandy Allen. As the night wears on and the older folks clear out, the atmosphere is charged by the college kids, who, inspired by the DJ who cranks out tunes on weekend nights to get the kids to bust a move, get their groove on on the dance floor.

Dick and Sandy are very fond of the Harrison West neighborhood. When they purchased the property at 384 West Third Avenue—against the advice of their attorney—they knew that they were making an investment in an emerging community. They endured their share of broken car windows and other developing-neighborhood trials and tribulations over several decades of business. But they’ve hung in there and have been rewarded by their contributions to the neighborhood, which have shaped the vibrant and dynamic place that Harrison West is today. And they are proud to share this neighborhood tradition with their sons.

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