David Trinko: Columbus Grove bar owner finally ready to retire after 41 years


By David Trinko - The Lima News



Terry Callahan retires Sunday from Miller’s Lunch after 41 years as owner of the neighborhood bar at 117 N. High St., Columbus Grove. He bought the bar in 1980 and sold it to Rocky Myers, effective Monday.

Terry Callahan retires Sunday from Miller’s Lunch after 41 years as owner of the neighborhood bar at 117 N. High St., Columbus Grove. He bought the bar in 1980 and sold it to Rocky Myers, effective Monday.


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See past columns by David Trinko at LimaOhio.com/tag/trinko.

Subscribe to the Trinko Thinks So podcast at LimaOhio.com/podcasts.

COLUMBUS GROVE — There are a couple things you need to know before you walk into Miller’s Lunch.

First, they don’t really serve lunch. It hasn’t even been open at lunchtime in recent years. You can’t get dinner there either. They haven’t in decades, and it’s a running joke for regulars whenever a newcomer comes in looking for food.

Second, prepare to be razzed. Terry Callahan may even yell at you, “Hey, stupid!”

“There’s gonna be five people sitting in the bar right now, and I turn and holler ‘stupid,’” said Callahan, the proprietor of Miller’s Lunch. “They’ll all turn and look. They’re not sure who I’m talking to.”

Third, Sunday is Callahan’s last day as the owner of the Columbus Grove fixture at 117 N. High St., a dark bar mostly lit by the neon Bud Light sign behind the bar and the TVs in the corners. Old friends will celebrate Callahan’s years of service all day. Callahan sold the business to longtime employee Rocky Myers.

Callahan bought the bar in November 1980, when he was still working at Ford. He was young and single at the time and always dreamed of owning a bar. He worked daytimes at Ford then came to the bar at night to close it.

“I kid people. I’m the only person I know that worked 30 years at Ford and 40 years here,” Callahan said. “And I’m only 72!”

Aside from a few short vacations, he’s been inside his bar, keeping the patrons happy since then, pulling icy beverages out of his coolers.

“It’s very light going and a family atmosphere, and it’s always had the coldest beer around,” said Dennis Kleman, who has been coming to Miller’s since he was old enough to legally drink. Callahan was even his midget football coach.

Callahan describes the place as a “neighborhood tavern,” with a little bit of the salty language of Dick’s Last Resort thrown in for fun. That’s what attracted Myers to the place too.

“We just started coming up here when we were younger and stuff,” Myers said. “It’s just like ‘Cheers.’ You know, you walk in, and everyone’s happy and knows your name. It’s like a second home to a lot of my friends and family members.”

Callahan met his wife, Barbara, while working at Miller’s. There’s some disagreement between the two of them about who stalked who in the relationship. Terry says Barbara, who grew up in Carey, invented reasons to come to Columbus Grove. Barbara says Terry showed up unannounced with flowers and candy at her realty office in Findlay. Somehow it worked, as they’ve been married nine years now.

That’s half the fun of a place like Miller’s, where the truth isn’t nearly as important as how good of a story it is to tell.

They have plenty of stories to share, too, although they’re reluctant to have them recorded for posterity. There’s a funny picture behind the bar from Callahan’s 60th birthday party, when they hired old-looking dancers and somehow convinced Callahan to put on a Tarzan costume.

Callahan chuckled about other oddities walking into the bar of a farmyard nature, like patrons bringing in chickens, sheep, goats and even one wild turkey.

They’re all good memories, especially when the bar’s packed for Ohio State games and people bring in food to share for game days. They even have an OSU helmet hanging from the ceiling, placing a buckeye sticker on it for each victory in a season.

The retirement’s been a long time coming, as has the often-postponed sale of the bar to Myers. They’ve been discussing it for about 10 years.

“He was interested, and Terry would talk about doing it, and then he’d get cold feet and couldn’t do it,” Barbara said. “This was his baby. But finally one day, he said, ‘I’m doing it,’ and that was it.”

Myers couldn’t quite believe it either, until Callahan signed the papers to complete the deal. He doesn’t have big plans for an overhaul. He’ll keep the Miller’s Lunch name. He’s considering updating the bathrooms and adding draft beer to the bar. He’s even thought about adding some food in the future.

Right now, he’s learning that Callahan made the business look a lot easier than it is, managing his beer inventory and keeping good records.

“The way it looks up here, he just kind of goes with the flow, you think,” Myers said. “But he’s got a lot more detailed records on everything. That’s kind of impressed me. I didn’t expect all that when he handed all the information over to me, what I’m going to need.”

Now it’s on to the next phase of life for Callahan and his bride. He said he’s looking forward to traveling and visiting his daughter in Columbus more. While he said he always had great help, the life of a bar owner kept him from ever being away too long. They’re already planning their annual winter trip to Florida, except this year he won’t come back after a week.

And when he’s in town, he said he’ll still visit Miller’s Lunch, the home away from home he’s shared with his friends in Columbus Grove for the past 41 years. He’ll just be on the other side of the bar.

https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2021/10/web1_NewMugTrinko-Square-7.jpg
Terry Callahan retires Sunday from Miller’s Lunch after 41 years as owner of the neighborhood bar at 117 N. High St., Columbus Grove. He bought the bar in 1980 and sold it to Rocky Myers, effective Monday.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2021/10/web1_Millers-Callahan.jpgTerry Callahan retires Sunday from Miller’s Lunch after 41 years as owner of the neighborhood bar at 117 N. High St., Columbus Grove. He bought the bar in 1980 and sold it to Rocky Myers, effective Monday.

By David Trinko

The Lima News

ONLY ON LIMAOHIO.COM

See past columns by David Trinko at LimaOhio.com/tag/trinko.

Subscribe to the Trinko Thinks So podcast at LimaOhio.com/podcasts.

David Trinko is managing editor of The Lima News. Reach him at 567-242-0467, by email at dtrinko@limanews.com or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.

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David Trinko is managing editor of The Lima News. Reach him at 567-242-0467, by email at dtrinko@limanews.com or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.

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