Vandalia restaurant to shut its doors after 38 years

Owners of The Original Rib House invite customers to come in this week to reminisce, say goodbye

A Vandalia restaurant that has served tens of thousands of meals under two brand concepts over the last 54 years will shut down after the close of business on Saturday, July 13, its owners said today, July 8.

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“We invite people to come in this week so they can pay tribute and say goodbye,” Renee Brusman, co-owner and manager of The Original Rib House at 275 E. National  Road in Vandalia, told this news outlet. Brusman’s father and mother, Bill and Carolyn Brusman, are also co-owners of the restaurant, which has operated as The Original Rib House for 38 years. Bill Brusman oversaw a Frisch’s restaurant in the same facility for more than 16 years prior to transforming it into the barbecue restaurant.

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“It’s the end of an era,” Bill Brusman said. His father Harold operated the former Vandalia Cafeteria and the former Vandalia Motel and Coffee Shop in other locations in town, meaning that the Brusman family has been serving food to Vandalia residents for nearly a century.

The Original Rib House, which seats more than 200 combined in its main dining room and lounge, has about 20 employees, the Brusmans said. They were informed of the decision Monday.

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“There were some tears,” Renee Brusman said. “This restaurant staff is very much like a family.”

Business has slowed, in part due to an aging clientele, competition from restaurants in and around the nearby Miller Lane development, and the loss of big events such as the Amateur Trapshooting Association’s Grand American Trapshooting Championships, Bill Brusman said. The difficulty in hiring and retaining staff members also contributed to the decision to shut down, Renee and Bill Brusman said.

It was not an easy decision, he said.

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“I’ve grown up with this restaurant. I had to share my dad with this restaurant,” Renee Brusman said. “But we had a lot of family dinners here. All the customers knew each other. Over time, this became almost a community center that served food and alcohol.”

The family didn’t consider trying to sell the business.

“You don’t want to see someone else take over  your dream,” Renee Brusman said.

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The restaurant will be open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. today, Tuesday and Wednesday, from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, from 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday, and from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 13, the restaurant’s final day.

“Come in and get some broasted chicken, look at old pictures, and enjoy the memories,” Renee said.

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