A Greasy Spoon Looks For A Clean Start, With Some Help From A Columbus Tech Group

Feb 7, 2017

Chris Kowalski has had a rough go of it lately.

The owner and operator of Jack's Downtown Diner lost his wife to cancer in 2015. He closed the diner later that year, and when he reopened in 2016, the normally-quaint Lynn Street was a full-blown construction site.

Kowalski says even though regulars are still dropping in for breakfast and lunch, business isn't the same.

"I'd probably say I'm down about 35 to 40 percent over previous years," Kowalski says.

He, who's owned the diner since 2004, puts much of the blame on the street construction just outside on Lynn Street.

"I think the major problem is the chain-link fences," Kowalski says. "People walk down the alley - it looks like it's all closed."

Now, Kowalski is getting help from an unexpected source: Columbus Women in Digital, an association that boasts about 600 members.

Angela Petrie, a board member, says eight volunteers are working on the restaurant's website, managing its social media accounts and using their network to promote the diner. 

Construction on Lynn Street has hurt Jack's Downtown Diner's walk-in business.
Credit Steve Brown

"One of our pillars is that we want to give back to the community," Petrie says.

They're even hosting a dating mixer in the diner on February 8. Petrie says the association started last year with projects like this in mind.

Kowalski says he's thankful for the help.

"I think what Women in Digital are doing has really opened a lot of eyes," Kowalski says. "Anything can help."