UPDATE: Worthington Ground Round closes its doors
"Due to the owner's health it's just not possible for us to remain open."
WORTHINGTON — The Worthington Ground Round is closing for good, effective at the end of the business day Friday.
"Due to the owner's health it's just not possible for us to remain open," a letter addressed to the restaurant's valued customers reads. "We have had an amazing 18 years and it is our hope a new owner will soon appear here and reopen a restaurant. We are doing everything we can to help make that happen."
The letter, signed with "The Ground Round Worthington Staff," is dated May 24, 2022.
Autumn Schmeling, a bartender at the restaurant, said she’s been with the Ground Round since it opened in December 2003.
“It’s a lot to get through this week. It’s really emotional for me,” she said. “It’s a lot of people I’m going to miss, and so many regulars and so many people I look forward to talking to.”
She isn’t sure what she’s going to do next, but she knows she’s going to miss the Ground Round.
“I think it was important. I think it was a place for people to go to get together and meet,” Schmeling said. “We often had people celebrating birthdays and anniversaries and after-graduation and games, and (it’s) just a great place for people to get together and feel comfortable when they came in.”
The restaurant had been letting people know about the closure on-site since Tuesday, she added.
“Everybody’s heartbroken. They’re sad,” Schmeling said. “Those happy hour times after work, those get-togethers, they’re going to miss. They’re gonna miss us, and seeing us and talking to us.”
She said she hopes someone purchases the business and opens it back up.
“It’s been a struggle for a while, it seems like, after COVID — as is the problem everywhere — with the staffing, but we made it work. We get there early, stay late, do what we need to do just to stay open,” said Schmeling, who also penned a touching tribute to the restaurant on her Facebook page.
“I am heartbroken. Eighteen years,” she wrote. “I have seen people at their best, I have seen people at their worst. I have been there for you to celebrate your child’s sixth birthday, then when they got their license, then their 21st. I have been there to help cope with your parent’s death and when your children went away to college, when your dog died. I have been there to help you celebrate weddings, graduations, new grandchildren. I have helped plan surprises and helped get you home safely when you had too much to drink. I have laughed with you, I have cried with you.
“To all the people I have had the joy of meeting and seeing, getting to know the last 18 years, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for making this not 'just a job' but a JOY, an everyday JOY that I have loved doing for the last 18 years.”
Since the public found out the Ground Round is closing, the restaurant has been busier than ever.
"The wonderful support we've had from our great customers and from the entire Worthington community has made it a joy to do our jobs. We've had a lot of fun serving you," the letter continues. "From each and every member of our team, thank you for coming in and thank you for your friendship. We will miss you!!!"
The owners have declined to comment further at this time, said manager Louise Rients.