Ohio State culture has always been heavily influenced by the businesses that call the surrounding streets home.
While many students would likely cite various bars and taverns when asked about campus-defining establishments, it is the places they go after their favorite watering holes close that really encapsulate the community. Establishments like Apollo’s, PJ’s, Catfish Biff’s and, of course, Buckeye Donuts are often the final stop on an eventful night out.
Louie Makkas, the owner of Apollo’s Greek Kitchen on High Street, said his restaurant is centrally located to a lot of campus bars, and is particularly close to Midway, which has shifted from various places before it became the bar it is today.
“We are right in the middle of everybody,” he said.
Makkas has owned and operated the popular restaurant for over 43 years. Before setting off on this culinary venture of his own, he worked as a server at Buckeye Donuts.
There are few who have been on the front lines of the late-night campus scene for as long as the 70-year-old Makkas. Until last year, he and his wife still prepared gyros and ran the register themselves until 3 a.m. every weekend.
Makkas said it can be difficult to deal with “drunk people,” but “that’s what we choose to do.”
Not every late-night worker on campus shares Makkas’ wariness for the bustling redeye weekend shifts, however.
On south campus, Kristopher Toller, a night-shift manager at Catfish Biff’s for the past three years, said he thoroughly enjoys the time he spends at the iconic campus pizza joint because it all comes down to the tight-knit relationships between the staff.
“I love the people I work with,” Toller said, noting that after closing, a lot of the employees will go down High Street and find some food together to “kind of keep that business camaraderie among everybody.”
Buckeye Donuts is probably the first place an average student thinks of when asked about where to grab a late-night meal. Situated on High Street, it is one of the few 24-hour restaurants in the campus area. As a long-standing Ohio State landmark that sports a 1950s-style diner motif, Buckeye Donuts feels almost eternal.
James Entler, a night manager at Buckeye Donuts for more than four years, echoed Toller’s point about camaraderie amongst coworkers, and also said that the restaurant’s generational appeal is one of its keys to longevity.
“People’s parents’ parents’ have been here, eating and enjoying this place,” Entler said. “You see a lot of storefronts changing; a lot of things going down; a lot of things coming up. This will be one of the last places that ever happens to, if it ever happens.”
Given its location, hours and acclaim, Buckeye Donuts is often a scene of “controlled chaos” on weekend nights, as Entler puts it. After the dinner rush, which ends around 10 p.m., there is often a lull until the bar rush, which takes place around 2-4 a.m.
Even Toller, of Catfish Biff’s, concedes that Buckeye Donuts has been through it all and then some.
Toller said nothing compares to what happens on High Street, and that it can often make working late nights plenty more interesting.
“We went to Buckeye Donuts and some dude was about to throw a scooter through the window,” Toller said.