Celebrating Our Spirit: Downtown dining scene shows Lima on ‘offense’

LIMA — For the past two years, John Heaphy has gone on a “buying spree” of vacant, neglected buildings around Lima.

There’s the vacant lot at the corner of Elm and South Main streets, where he plans to move Good Foods Restaurants’ headquarters — a symbol of Heaphy’s confidence in downtown Lima — or the lot at the corner of Spring and South Main streets, the future home to an as-of-yet unannounced project that will lead into the Rotary Club’s amphitheater park.

“For years, our city’s been on defense,” said Heaphy, founder and president of Good Foods Restaurants, the parent company for Old City Prime, Beer Barrell and Happy Daz. “We’ve been playing defense as our city downsized with the industrial exodus out of our town in the 1980s and 1990s.”

But now, Heaphy sees signs of the city playing offense as downtown Lima comes to life.

“We really need to do some pride-building in our town,” he said.

Heaphy was one of the early supporters of downtown Lima’s revitalization when he opened Old City Prime, joining The Met and The Meeting Place on Market.

The steakhouse “filled a void for fine dining,” he said, attracting patrons from as far away as Fort Wayne or Youngstown for its large selection of wines, premium steaks and the Upper Lounge, the restaurant’s upstairs cocktail bar which has become a destination in its own right for live music and comedy.

Downtown Lima’s dining scene has grown considerably in the last decade, aiding revitalization efforts as more restaurateurs and investors take a risk on Lima — even encouraging city officials to adopt an outdoor drinking area so patrons linger, hopefully visiting more restaurants and boutiques before heading home.

The Meeting Place, Old City Prime and The Met were joined by The 318 and The Hollander, which recently hired a New York City chef for its grand reopening.

The recent addition of Zinum 12, a gastropub known for its live music and gourmet bar food, has helped turn Lima into a nightlife destination, a trend which will likely continue with the completion of the amphitheater along Central Avenue.

Heaphy is counting on that momentum as he prepares his latest venture, which is now under construction at the corner of Spring and Main Streets across the street from Old City Prime.

Even the relocation of Good Foods Restaurants’ offices could encourage other business owners to bring their offices downtown, Heaphy said.

“We’re going to show a lot of naysayers in town what we do have,” Heaphy said, though he has not publicly confirmed what his project at Spring and Main will be.

“We have so many things to be proud of as a community,” he said. “We’re always trying to think what we can be instead of appreciating what we are.”


Plenty of foods, items and ideas are created right here in the Lima region. Celebrating Our Spirit looks at those organizations that make the area such a vibrant place to live, work and play.

Read more stories at LimaOhio.com/tag/spirit.