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The Top Steakhouse (Columbus), The Rat Pack, and Millennials

Updated: Apr 26, 2019

Over the past few days I spent some time in Columbus with some business associates. What an amazing city…built on the backs of other mid-sized Ohio cities. That is another story. We had dinner Wednesday night at The Top Steakhouse located in Bexley. It is a magnificent anachronism in every sense of the word. It was there when I was going to Ohio State…wait for it…50 years ago. It had been there awhile then. You step back in time as you enter an actually fairly small space with a bar to the left…and a piano bar to the right…with a guy playing the piano.

As you sit in the leather booths with the dark ambiance listening to the piano man playing The Piano Man, you can almost expect Frank Sinatra to walk through the front door. It is 1960’s Rat Pack chic with some pretty darn good pricey food. All pricey food should be pretty darn good!! Notwithstanding anything else...the food is outstanding.

One of the folks I was with lives in Dallas. You could see the look of surprise on his face when he walked in and looked around. He said that he was told this was an old-style steakhouse. He just didn’t expect this.

Our topic of conversation was technology trends for the future and its demographic effects. The Top lent itself to that sort of discussion. The place was packed on a Wednesday night, but it wasn’t with young people. It was the 50 and over set. My friend opined that young people today have no style. He said that mostly millennials just want to get to where they are going with as little effort as possible. Communication skills are lacking. I describe it as there is nothing special in their lives. They have isolated themselves from one of the great joys of life. Getting dressed up and enjoying a special something with someone you care about.

When I was young, going out to eat was an event. Now, food is delivered by GrubHub. You got dressed to go out…like you mean I can’t wear jeans? We went to places that were romantic, or at least we thought were romantic. In Columbus there was the Top of the Something or Other where they tossed the Caesar salad in front of you and flambeed the Cherries Jubilee without burning the building down. Polynesian was popular back then with fruity drinks served in fake coconut mugs with oranges and cherries on top and flaming torches by the front door. Romantic meant heavy duty old Spanish-style décor…lots of reds and blacks and browns with knight stuff around.

We would go to bars that had actual entertainment…not “clubs” as they are known today. We built memories. We looked back fondly at those events when we hear the songs that became the soundtrack of our lives. How does that work out with Hip Hop or music with club beat or the female vocalist du jour using the microphone stand as a sex toy?

This morning we went out for breakfast with another of our associates. We went to a place a few blocks east of the Short North district. It was a converted garage of sorts, turned into a coffee shop / bakery / sandwiches kind of place. Style was industrial chic with the now obligatory common table in the center of the space. It puts the “trend” in trendy. People dutifully lined up to purchase what were actually some good-looking baked goods and a good cup of coffee, then looked for a place to sit down in a space that was a garage and now looks like…a garage. I don’t do trendy well. But it is obviously working for its owners. Good baked goods know no style!

I am glad I got to visit The Top Steakhouse one more time. Why do I have the feeling that when it faces its demise as a business…I will be also!!! And to my friend Jimmy I...thanks for picking up the tab!!

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