Jamie Mast-Mason has such a soft spot for her dad's long-closed restaurants that she has now revived two of them.

April 29, 2014

Jamie Mast-Mason has such a soft spot for her dad's long-closed restaurants that she has now revived two of them.

Mast-Mason brought back the mobile hamburger stand Jimmy's Jawbreakers in 1989. Her dad, Jimmy Mast, operated it in Lancaster during the 1950s and closed it in 1962.

"When I told him my plan, he said no one would remember those sandwiches," she said.

He was wrong. She set up shop at the Fairfield County Fair and sold 6,000 burgers in two days - and it's been operating on a seasonal basis ever since.

Now, Mast-Mason has brought back Diamond Jim's Pizza, a pizza parlor her father ran in Lancaster for more than a decade. He closed it in the early 1980s, partly in response to the influx of chain pizzerias that were moving in.

But MastMason thinks Diamond Jim's is ready for a revival.

"People had been asking us to bring Diamond Jim's pizza back," she said.

She and her husband, Rich, quietly revived it on a smaller scale in the convenience store the couple bought several years ago, Rich and Jamie's Place, at 1112 S. Broad St. in Lancaster.

It wasn't enough.

Mast-Mason wanted to give Diamond Jim's the full restaurant treatment.

She looked at a few locations, then the right space opened at the right time. She walked by the former Kool Beans Coffee and Wine Bar (111 N. Columbus St.) and noticed it was closed.

"I wasn't looking downtown per se, but I contacted (the owner of the wine bar) on Feb. 9, and had a deal with the landlord by Feb. 14, and by March 14, we were open."

They're now serving thin-crust pizza made using the same recipe as the original Diamond Jim's. The sauce, crust, salad dressings and croutons, as well as desserts, are made from scratch in-house every day. There's an ever-changing suite of homemade desserts, such as chocolate ravioli and peanut-butter pie, made from scratch by Mast-Mason.

Guests can eat in, carry out or have their food delivered.

"This is not a fast-food pizza place," Mast-Mason said. "Your pizza is not cooked on a conveyor belt. It's for people who want an old-fashioned experience. You actually have to talk to a person to order your pizza."

It's the quintessential "hole-in-the-wall pizza place. It's so cute," she said.

The pizzeria is small at 800 square feet and seats only 33. It has freshly painted white walls and plenty of red-and-white-checkered fabric. The curtains were sewn by one of the residents of the local homeless shelter, where Mast-Mason is a volunteer.

Diamond Jim's also has a retro Wurlitzer jukebox that plays 45s of 1950s and '60s music. She chuckles at the teenagers who dine there because "when they see the vinyl records drop and needles come down, they are totally freaked out. They've never seen anything like it," Mason said.

She's hoping Diamond Jim's will also be a small part of a downtown renaissance.

"When I was little, we came downtown to Kresge's, the theater and Hickle's department store," Mast-Mason said.

Today, most of the town's retail has moved closer to the River Valley Mall. She and some of the businesses around her, including an antiques shop, have decided to stay open later in a bid to lure more people to the area.

Mast-Mason is also pleased to offer Lancaster another family-friendly shop.

"We don't serve alcohol. We want this to be the kind of place where parents can drop teenagers off and not have to worry," she said.

To honor the man who started it all, a portrait of the original "Diamond" Jim - Jimmy Mast loved diamonds and had lots of jewelry, Mason said - hangs on the pizza shop's wall.

"Dad has been gone for 17 years," Mast-Mason said. But, if he could see his old pizza parlor revived, "I think he would be jazzed for sure."

Diamond Jim's is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and is closed Sunday and Monday.

Off the menu

• Daniel Morris has joined Sokol and Associates as a restaurant consultant and broker for the Granville, Newark and Zanesville areas. Morris formerly worked at Rule 3 in Pickerington and at Hubbard Grille and Denmark on High in the Short North.

• Dust off your red-checkered overalls. On Saturday, Frisch's Restaurants are celebrating the birthday of founder David Frisch by awarding a free Big Boy platter to any customer who visits the restaurant fully dressed as the Big Boy mascot. Those who dress partially as Big Boy will receive a free Big Boy sandwich.

• The Hungry Soul Cafe, at 30 S. Young St. in the former Inn Between space, is now serving Sunday brunch from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The restaurant, which bills itself as a Hungarian soul-food restaurant, will serve a menu of breakfast fare including omelets, waffles and Hungarian crepes, as well as cocktails such as Bloody Marys and mimosas. Brunch menu item prices range from $4.25 to $8.75.

Dispatch restaurant columnist Denise Trowbridge can be reached at onrestaurants@dispatch.com.