Johnstown's Ghostwriter Public House restaurant reopens after fire

Kent Mallett
Newark Advocate
Spouses Dennis and Denise Blankemeyer, owners of Crow Works and Ghostwriter Public House, behind the bar of the Johnstown pub. The furniture designed and made by Crow Works is heavily featured in the Johnstown eatery.

JOHNSTOWN — Obstacles just keep coming for Ghostwriter Public House but like a hurdler running down the track, the popular Johnstown restaurant keeps jumping over barriers and moving forward.

The latest challenges were a power outage causing a loss of food and a temporary closure last month, followed by a Sunday night fire that forced another closure.

Ghostwriter reopened last week after taking a few weeks break to regroup from the power outage, then closed after the fire and reopened again on Wednesday.

Denise Blankemeyer, who owns the restaurant with husband Dennis, said the fire occurred about 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Sunday, when the restaurant was open serving customers.

“We had to call 911 and evacuate the dining room," Blankemeyer said. "It was a smoldering smoke, not flames, thank God.”

Blankemeyer said the fire was apparently in the walls, causing smoke to fill the restaurant.

“We were fortunate," she said. "It wasn’t ideal, that’s for sure. But if we weren’t there doing service, if it was the middle of the night, we’d probably lost the building. It looked a lot worse than it was.”

The outdoor dinning are of Ghostwriter Public House in Johnstown.

Five fire departments responded, shutting down Main Street and causing quite a stir in town. The restaurant got some assistance from Snapshots Lounge in Granville and worked until 3 a.m. following the fire.

The restaurant opened in November 2019, then closed during the COVID shutdown a few months later. It has also dealt with a worker shortage, inflation, and a supply shortage like most businesses.

Blankemeyer said difficult times strengthen the bonds among employees. After storms knocked out power last month, forcing the restaurant to throw out food, Blankemeyer said the dedicated employees needed time off.

“It’s just been a lot since COVID,” Blankemeyer said in June. “We are extremely busy, but the team is just tired and needs a break. Everybody just needs a mental health break once in a while. The power outage was the perfect opportunity to take a pause. We’re going to regroup and come back stronger than ever. This is just a temporary close.”

She said the staff stuck together through the crises, but they recently replaced the executive chef and sous chef. The new executive chef is Joe Shonce and the new sous chef is Ramzy Chaya.


Twitter: @kmallett1958