The high points of Jake Hendershot's four-year run as the owner of Pandolfi's Deli in Columbus Park?
"Looking back at what I created. I just thought I'd open a little sandwich shop in my grandfather's building. It succeeded beyond my wildest expectations," Hendershot says. "Not so much financially, but in terms of building a solid clientele, getting positive reviews, creating a real asset for the community."
That asset is going out with a bang: Hendershot is hosting a closing-night party for Pandolfi's Deli on Friday, June 13, from 5 to 10 p.m. Admission will be free, but the food and beverages will be sold at the event. Many former employees are returning to work that night - as well as Hendershot's family, including his new bride, Aubree.
Hendershot, who turns 35 this year, says he's ready for the next door in his career to open. Since opening Pandolfi's Deli in 2010, Hendershot has gotten divorced and remarried, moved from an apartment above the restaurant - which is located in the former florist shop adjacent to the space once occupied by the Lapetina Funeral Home - to the West Plaza, and tried to offer dinner service in 2012.
Dinners at Pandolfi's Deli
were beautifully done, overseen by former chef Grant Cansler (who has returned to nonculinary corporate employment at Cerner), but only lasted seven months before Hendershot realized that he had bitten off more than he could chew: "It was incredibly difficult running a deli by day and a fine-dining operation at night," he says.
"It was a bittersweet decision," Hendershot says, "but I wanted to close it at the peak. Business has been good - yesterday we were slammed. But I'm ready to move on to something else."
Hendershot isn't ruling out another restaurant. "I'm keeping all of my options open," he says. He hopes to sell the existing business as a turnkey operation before taking on another culinary venture. His grandfather, Robert Pandolfi, still owns the historic Columbus Park building, where several high-profile local mobsters lay in state in the 1940s and '50s..
Hendershot is hoping to lure all of his customers, past and present, to the June 13 closing party. "I'm trying to get permission from the city to close the street off that night," Hendershot says. "We think we're definitely going to go out with a bang."