Ritzy’s, the iconic bygone burger chain, whose growing pains led to its near-extinction in the late ’80s, has reclaimed Columbus territory and resumed flipping patties just like the old days; only this time, the second generation has been handed the spatula.
Bryan and Corey Webb and long-time friend Drew DeVilbiss are the hamburger heirs of the OG Ritzers, Graydon Webb and Doug DeVilbiss.
“Growing up, anytime I met someone that knew my dad, they would always ask, ‘What happened to Ritzy’s? They had the best *insert menu item here*’” explained Corey. Rather than continuing to explain the circumstances, Corey alongside his brother and best friend decided to squash the question for good by bringing it back. “When we brought the idea up to my dad his eyes lit up!”
Two years and a lot of french fry and elbow grease later, Ritzy’s is once again alive and well in Clintonville.
While it was important for the newcomers to make some subtle changes this time around to appeal to the younger demographic like adding a customizable ordering process and modernizing the aesthetic, they knew enough to not beef with what wasn’t broken. Just as you remember, Ritzy’s burgers are juicy, bursting with savory flavor, with just the right amount of crisp on the edges. The bread is baked in-house and the toppings—lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, cheese, bacon, chili—are fresher than ever. Oh, and be sure to surround your burger with a perfectly golden halo of shoestring fries that are, you guessed it, just like you remember.
“The response has been tremendous. We’ve had a line out the door since we opened,” said Doug said.
He added that people have even been thanking them for bringing Ritzy’s back. Sure, a milkshake is great, but have you ever reveled in nostalgia?
“Everybody has a story,” said Doug. “‘This was my first job,’ or ‘I met my wife here,’ or ‘We would come here everyday after school.’”
On one of the opening days, the Ritzy’s staff was even graced by First Lady of Ohio, Karen Waldbillig Kasich. Turns out, before she became a prominent businesswoman, wife and mother, Karen was ringing up hungry people at one of the first Ritzy’s back in the ’80s.
It’s quite clear that the reincarnated concept has won back the hearts of yesteryear’s Ritzy’s lovers despite its several-decade hiatus. Distance makes the carnivorous heart grow stronger, I suppose.
But even for half-wit millennials like myself who didn’t know a Ritzy’s from a Rally’s until a few weeks ago, what’s also clear is that the former has something special to offer.
Ritzy’s is a true comeback story that exemplifies Columbus’s loyalty to quality, modest mom-and-pop shops.
And slap my tush and call me vegan if those snappin’ hot dogs aren’t the best things ever.