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Campus classics survive High Street revitalization

A donut and coffee from Buckeye Donuts on High Street in Columbus, OH. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Managing Editor for Design

While chain restaurants continue to pop up along High Street, two classics remain: Buckeye Donuts and Apollo’s Greek Kitchen.

When Jimmy Barouxis was 13 years old, he spent every weekend cleaning his grandpa’s restaurant. Each time, he earned $5 for his work. Now, he’s the third-generation owner of Buckeye Donuts.

For Apollo’s Greek Kitchen Owner Ilias Makkas, he came to the United States to study business at Ohio State. After the death of his father, he worked to support himself and his family. Saving up money, he opened his restaurant in 1975 and Apollo’s Greek Kitchen has been open ever since.

Campus Partners, Ohio State’s urban development division, is performing construction that has brought and will continue to bring a number of restaurants to the east side of High Street’s campus section by the early 2020s, according to Campus Partners’ website.

Apollo’s Greek Kitchen and Buckeye Donuts are two of the few remaining family-owned restaurants around campus. Both businesses were established over 40 years ago.

“All of us work here. That’s my wife and my son there,” Makkas said as he pointed at the two employees. “I worked all the time and we had no babysitter. I sometimes would sleep on the pool table we used to have.”

Apollo’s Greek Kitchen opened on Ohio State’s campus in 1975. The restaurant moved from the corner of 11th Avenue and High Street to a new location across from the Ohio Union in 2000, due to a request from Campus Partners, according to Makkas.

Campus Partners assisted Makkas in his restaurant’s relocation.

“Campus Partners helped me out to move. They were making new buildings down there,” Makkas said. “I think they were very nice to me. When I opened up this [new location], I would say they covered about 80 percent of the cost and then I put another 20 percent on top.”

Makkas views the additions being made by Campus Partners positively.

“The more [restaurants] come, the better it is for everyone,” he said. “One day they eat a gyro, the next day they’re going to go to Bibibop. If they come here with Bibibop, I don’t say anything. People want variety.”

Apollo’s Greek Kitchen is less than 2 blocks from the heart of Campus Partners’ 15th and High development plan to create a “University Square.”

Buckeye Donuts is located between Woodruff Avenue and 18th Avenues. Like Apollo’s, the restaurant is right in the center of campus revitalization.

“It seems like there has been construction for the past 10 years. It’s like the weather. We just expect it. It’s just been nonstop,” Barouxis said. “We’re still busy, but we would have been even more. Maybe once it’s done we’ll get some more customers, but right now it’s just tiring.”

Buckeye Donuts first opened in 1969 and has remained in its original location since. Barouxis is determined to maintain his business in a transforming environment.

“I’ve been here since I was a kid. There was always a lot of mom-and-pop businesses here,” Barouxis said. “I’m not talking 30 or 40 years ago, I’m talking 15 years ago. Now, it’s probably 90 percent chains. It’s frustrating, but you’ve got to be tough to have a family-owned business for 50 years. No one is going to touch us.”

 

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