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Rigsby's Kitchen Closes After 29 Years In Short North

Dine Originals

An iconic Short North restaurant has served its last meal. Kent Rigsby announced during the weekend he was closing Rigsby's Kitchen after 29 years of continuous operation.

Many people credit Rigsby's for launching development in what was...30 years ago...a rundown part of the city.

We talk with Shelley Mann of Columbus Dine Originals to get a sense of what closing Rigsby's means to the neighborhood and to the independent dining group.

Below is an automated transcription of the above interview, please excuse all errors.

Shelley Mann: It's a devastating closure I think for this city for the neighborhood of the Short North and definitely for our organization. Rigby's is one of the oldest restaurants that was part of Dine Originals. It's been around for twenty nine years so that's a really long time in the restaurant world. Kent and Tasi, you know he also owns Tasi Cafe, a member of Dine Originals.

So I think it'll be, definitely a hole in our membership roster. What does that say about the independent restaurant scene in Columbus? But he has said that he's looking to open something else. So we'll look forward to what that is, continue evolving along with the restaurant scene here in Columbus.

Marilyn Smith: Last Spring Matt LitzingerL'Antibes Sent out a notice that he was going to shut that fine dining facility down. And then reopen it is kind of a comfort food place. Now we have Rigby's which was another fine dining spot, closing its doors. Is there a movement here among people who are providing upscale food?

SM: There is definitely a movement nationwide. From, kind of the, white tablecloth fine dining scene towards something that's a little more approachable, I think we saw with the small plate movement that we have seen here in Columbus. Price points coming down and people don't necessarily want to put on a suit and tie to go out and eat anymore. So it's definitely a trend and I think that, I think that's definitely why L'Antibes decided to shift concept and I can't say if that's the reason, what happened with Rigby's, but I know that Rigsby's actually have done a remarkable job of adapting the restaurant over the years. If you're open for three decades, you have to I'm anticipating that will probably see next from Kent is probably something that's a little more casual, less fine dining.

MS: Kent Rigsby apparently put a message up on his Facebook page and, from what I heard, and this may be only a rumor, he went around to the tables of diners Saturday night and said this is going to be our last night, informing them at least, that the restaurant was closing. Is it unusual for a restaurant to close so abruptly.

SM: No. This happens a lot in the restaurant industry. And it's happened several times in recent memory for dine originals restaurants as well. There's a lot of reasons behind why a restaurant might decide to close and there's a lot of reasons why they wouldn't necessarily give advanced warning, your staff might leave on mass, or you know you might get a lot of people coming in to try to experience one last meal and you don't have enough food to serve them, or things like that.

So it was actually a Gallery Hop Saturday. So I think you know I'm sure it was a very busy evening in the restaurants. Maybe he, again I have not spoken with Kent Rigsby either, but I would imagine you know, he wanted to go out on a high note. And so. Probably that's why he chose that day.

MS: I know somebody who went up there Sunday morning and said the restaurant, although closed, was all set up as though it was going to be open for business again that day, the tables were done. Do you know what plans there are for that space, or is it too soon?

SM: No. I have not heard anything about what's next for the space or what's next for Kent from him directly. I think that the story of Kent Rigsby and Rigby's is a beautiful story for the Columbus dining scene. It's been you know. Just a landmark restaurant in our city and that people know and you know have gone to over the years and continue to frequent for many decades and that's something really special.

The reason that the Short North is what it is today is because Kent established a restaurant there, and other business owners like him did something like that. And I'm just excited to see what's next for Kent, what's next for the Short North and what neighborhood might kind of turn into the new Short North, and kind of be home for restaurants like that that kind of define our city and our dining scene.

MS: Shelley Mann of Columbus Dine Originals. Thank you so much.

SM: Thank you.