Longtime South Side company Ezzo Sausage moving operations to West Side

Mark Ferenchik, The Columbus Dispatch

Ezzo Sausage, a mainstay on Lockbourne Road on the South Side for 37 years, plans to move operations and jobs to the West Side this year.

How much of its operations and how many jobs remains unclear. Company officials did not return calls seeking comment.

But the move, whatever it is, is a blow to some South Side leaders and area residents who not long ago championed Ezzo officials’ plans to expand on the former site of a crime-ridden, blighted apartment complex that the company said it would purchase from the city.

Instead, the company is moving production to a 77,000-square-foot building at 683 Manor Park Dr. to process and package meats. The Columbus Board of Zoning Adjustment in January approved a zoning variance for the company.

“No one from Ezzo reached out to us,” said Curtis Davis, the zoning chairman for the Columbus South Side Area Commission. “Hate to see them leave the South Side.”

South Side leaders were hoping that Ezzo would expand its operations on the site of the former Lockwood Park Apartments, located directly south of Ezzo’s production plant at 1802 Lockbourne Rd.

The city acquired the 3.6-acre site through tax foreclosure in 2011 and spent $700,000 to raze the apartments. The property ended up in the city’s land bank.

In 2014, Ezzo said it was going to spend as much as $4 million on an 8,500-square-foot addition for drying pepperoni, adding 10 jobs. It planned to buy the 3.6-acre former apartment site from the city for $200,000.

But the deal never went through, said John Turner, the city’s land-bank administrator. “We have it posted for sale,” he said.

Ezzo’s owners, weary of the vandalism and crime they attributed to the former apartments, had looked at locations in Lancaster, Canal Winchester and Pataskala, before talking about expanding on to the apartment site.

Ezzo moved its operations to the Lockbourne Road location in 1978. The company’s offices are at 1415 Universal Rd. on the South Side.

Davis said it hurts when businesses rooted in the South Side leave.

“It put a dent in the South Side,” Davis said. “We’ll recover from it and keep moving.”