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Barnstormers Grill | Columbus, OH

[UPDATE: Barnstormers Grill has closed, but has been re-opened under new owners as Jack & Benny's Barnstormer Diner.]

Barnstormers Grill
2160 W. Case Rd. #13 (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43017
(614) 292-5699
Open Mon-Sat, 7a-3p (bfast served all day!)
Accepts cash and credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 9:20 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: Oh, how I had loved the idea of The Barnstormer. Breakfast in an airport? Are you kidding me? Two of my favorite things! But alas, it wasn’t meant to be: I visited once in late 2009, had an okay experience, and then the restaurant quietly closed a couple years later. It was a missed opportunity. Until two days ago, when a reader sent me a message saying that the restaurant was re-opened under new management and serving good food! On top of that, the reader pointed out that you can you can go up in the old control tower, now converted into a simple observation deck. Needless to say, less than twenty-four hours after finding this out, I was eating breakfast and watching airplanes with my boys.

ATMOSPHERE: The restaurant space isn’t radically changed, although there are a few more dashes of OSU colors, and it’s brighter overall. Still a lot of aviation-themed decorations. It’s a three-and-a-half-year-old’s dream. (Oh, heck, I loved it, too.) There are plenty of tables scattered throughout the space; only one other was filled while we ate.

FOOD: The menu is simple and straightforward: four omelets (including a vegetarian option), four combination meals, and a kid’s menu. There’s plenty of a la carte items, too. Breakfast is like that. My son chose the Little Flyer: eggs, toast, bacon, and a drink. He didn’t have much of his bacon, so I tried some. Crispy, just the way I like it.

I was in a sausage gravy and biscuits mood (the dish is a new addition to the menu). It came with a heaping side of two eggs and hash browns. This is just one of the plates. Good crispy hash browns, and the eggs were wet enough, although they tasted slightly of that generic diner flattop cooking oil.

And this is the plate of biscuits and gravy. Two dense biscuits halved, covered in gravy. It was perhaps the thickest, meatiest sausage gravy I’ve had. Very dark, and pretty well seasoned.

At $5.75, it’s a lot of food, and a fairly heavy meal.

Our breakfast companion, Bill, ordered the pancakes and gave me a taste. Overall, very good. It was browned well on the grill, but spongy throughout. Good example of diner pancakes.

SERVICE: We were treated very nicely by our server and by owner Jodi Perez. It certainly helped that there weren’t many people in the restaurant, but they were very attentive and our food came out quickly. Our server left this card with us at the end of the meal. I don’t think I’ve seen a breakfast punchcard before!

OVERALL: I think the new management and little makeover for Barnstormer (now renamed Barnstormers Grill) is just what it needed. The space is brighter, the menu is more focused (I’m told they have good burgers for lunch), and it’s a little better connected with the airport itself. The improved food makes me want to return, whereas the previous version didn’t. And knowing more about the airport grounds makes me want to visit every morning. The restaurant is just a small room connected to one of the hangars. This is the view through the service door that leads into it.

Of course the boys and I went exploring afterward. Just outside the door to the restaurant is this entrance to the airport terminal. At the top of the picture is the old control tower, now the observation deck. It’s reachable by a series of short flights of stairs.

But the view from the top is pretty awesome. You’re right next to the runway and the plane “parking” area. There’s a table and chairs, so you could order your breakfast to-go and then come up here. Just sayin’…

Breakfast and some plane-watching made for an enjoyable morning, especially given the company.

Barnstormer on Urbanspoon

The Barnstormer | Columbus, OH

UPDATE: The Barnstormer and its successor Barnstormers Grill have closed. The restaurant is now Jack & Benny’s Barnstormer Diner. [2/26/14]

The Barnstormer
2160 W. Case Rd. #13 (in the OSU Don Scott Airport)
Columbus, OH 43235
(614) 292-5699
Open Monday-Saturday, 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. (breakfast served all day)
Accepts cash and credit cards

Date of Visit: Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at 7:00 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: A breakfast joint in an airport? That’s right! It’s The Barnstormer (or Barnstormers – all the signs are different), a small diner in Ohio State’s Don Scott Airport that’s about as hole-in-the-wall as you can get. I heard about this a few years ago, but am just venturing out now. I drove in to meet a friend for breakfast at 7:00 a.m.; I arrived at 6:45 to find the doors open, only to be told to wait while they set up the kitchen. Oh well. I was early.

The Barnstormer is located in Hangar #1 of the airport. Follow the signs off W. Case Road – see the tiny one in the grass in the picture above. It took me a moment to find the diner – it’s not terribly obvious from the road or the parking lot – but you should be able to narrow it down. Look for the sandwich board (see below).

: The interior continues the obvious airplane theme, with a dash of Ohio State Buckeyes thrown in. Kind of a no-duh given this is the OSU Airport. The restaurant is only one and a half rooms. I counted a whopping total of 12 tables, plus a couple more seats at the counter. Decor is simple: OSU memorabilia with some photos and descriptions of airport history. I’m sure it’s a great place if you’re into aviation. A side door looks into the hangar itself; one of the servers ducked out there to grab some supplies during our meal. With low ceilings and dim lighting, it’s a pretty quiet hole-in-the-wall breakfast getaway.

: Barnstormer features all the breakfast basics, served all day. You’ve got your egg combos, omelets, pancakes, all of your standard sides, plus juice and coffee. Prices are on the cheap side, too. (FYI: they also serve lunch).

I picked the 2 Eggs, with home fries, bacon, and coffee. All of the food tasted just fine – enough seasoning to keep it from being bland. The eggs were a little overcooked to be over-easy, but they tasted good. Potatoes were browned appropriately, and bacon… well, it’s bacon, so I can’t say anything bad about it. But honestly, I was disappointed with the portions. Maybe it’s my totally American expectation to go out to eat and get a heaping mound of food for $3, but I’ve been to many other breakfast joints that offer so much more food for the same price or cheaper than Barnstormer.

SERVICE: I got shooed out of the restaurant for arriving early, even though the signs were out, the door was open, and the lights were on, but I won’t complain about that. They were setting up some equipment that was accidentally dismantled for some renovations. The whole operation is run by two middle-aged folks, including the host and owner, Jennine Graham. She was a straight-shooter, but very friendly. A few minutes after we arrived, a group of three older gentlemen entered, slid in to their regular table, got their coffee, and began poking fun of Jennine. She gave it right back. At one point she asked one of them, “Do you want toast?” “Sure,” the guy replied. “Turn around and do it yourself,” she shot back, then laughed. These three guys were clearly regulars at the airport. I caught one snippet of their conversation that went, “the ceiling’s 1006, it’s nip and tuck, but it’s legal.” Pilots – translate, please?

OVERALL: At the risk of calling Barnstormer a gimmick, it does seem a little gimmicky to have a diner in the airport. It’s a little difficult to reach, and while airports are always fun places to visit, I have to wonder how the business stays alive in such a secluded spot. That being said, don’t let it deter you from visiting. Jennine told me the place has been around for years, so there’s clearly enough support for it. Give it a try yourself!


Barnstormer on Urbanspoon


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