How the German Village restaurant became a local institution

Geoffrey Schmidt loves reading the comment cards that diners fill out after a meal at Schmidt's Sausage Haus. It's a good reminder of how entwined the restaurant that his father, George F. Schmidt, started is with the residents of Columbus.

George F. Schmidt opened the restaurant around the corner from his family's meat-packing business in 1967. The restaurant opened while local preservationists were working to revitalize the neighborhood.

It quickly became a local institution.

"I'm always amazed that people have this special relationship with Schmidt's," Schmidt said.

It's not uncommon for parents to bring their children to the restaurant for special occasions because it is where their own parents took them for birthdays and family celebrations, he said.

-Melissa Kossler Dutton

What makes Schmidt's such a family-friendly place?

It's because we cater to the family. It's run by our family. We're five generations. Kids are an important part of our program.

How did Schmidt's become the place to take visitors to?

In the last few years, (the TV show) Man vs. Food has had a lot to do with it. Even before that, German Village is the No. 1 destination in Columbus.

What keeps locals coming back?

It's how we treat people when they come in. It is a family business. We don't do a lot of frou-frou food. We're not into change. We put out consistently good food.

Are diners likely to see a member of the Schmidt family while at the restaurant?

Yes. We're in our fifth generation. We have nieces and nephews and cousins that work here. We have a program where we ask people to a post their picture with a Schmidt. If there's not one around, we have cutout of me. That's a fun thing.

Speaking of photos, how popular are the figures in front of the restaurant that people can pose with?

Very popular. You can't walk over to the restaurant from the office without someone stopping you to ask if you can take their picture. They were painted by Dad. They are like everything hanging up in the restaurant - it all has something to do with my family.