Since October 20, 1900
A family of Greek immigrants decided on a new way of life in the United States. The Zaharako family gave up a successful general store and tailor shop in Sparta, Greece to relocate to New York City. They arrived at Ellis Island in 1898. The family’s stay in New York was brief. A daughter, Ellen, married and moved to Richmond, where her husband operated a confectionery.
She described the midwest to her family in New York and at the dawn of a new century they moved to Indiana. They didn’t stop in Richmond. Ellen’s three brothers, James, Lewis and Pete, went on to Columbus where they quickly followed the lead of their sister’s husband and opened their own confectionery on Washington Street. Ironically, the Greek word for confectionery is “zaharaoplastion.”
In the first few years the family lived in rooms above the store until 1914, but as children grew older, each set up their own homes. Lewis left the business in 1908 to move to Greencastle, where he established his own confectionery. Pete stayed with the business until selling his share in 1930. He died in 1931. His wife and children eventually moved to Lawrenceburg. It was left to James to provide the next generation of Zaharakos to manage the family business on Washington Street — Lewie, Manuel, Gus, Pete and George. All five of the brothers worked at the family shop in the 1930s. Gus eventually left to start a similar business in Lebanon, Indiana, and George moved to California. Lewie died in 1980, Manuel two years later.
Eventually the operation of the business fell upon Lewie’s window, May and sons, Lew, an attorney in Columbus, and Ted, a dentist and Manuel’s children, Jim, a commercial art designer, and Ann. Business downturns and the declining health of Lew Zaharako led to some difficult decisions, the most serious of which was the sale of the famed Welte organ to a California collector in 2006. Several months later Zaharakos was forced to close because of Lew’s poor health. He died in 2006.There seemed to be no future for the fabled confectionery, but a group of Columbus residents banded together under the Columbus Capital Foundation and studied the possibility of purchasing and restoring it. Out of that came a decision by Columbus businessman Tony Moravec to take on the project himself. For the first time in more than 100 years, the confectionery is owned by someone other than a Zaharako.
Outside the front door at Zaharakos is this plaque that states: This Structure has been recorded by the Historic American Buildings Survey of the United States Department of the Interior for its archives at the Library of Congress.
By 1914 the Zaharako family no longer lives above the restaurant.
1930-1970 fondly known as “The Greeks”
1945 Brothers Gus, George, Pete, Lewie, and Manual take over.
1959 Zaharakos underwent a storefront facelift after a car smashed into the entrance.
2006 Restaurant closed and Welte sold to California collector.
2007 Businessman Tony Moravec buys restaurant and begins restoration. He purchases the contents of Jahns ice cream parlor in New York to accommodate expanded areas with period relics.
2007 The orchestrion is repurchased by Moravec. Sent to Baltimore, Maryland to be restored by Mr. Durward Center.
2009 (June 6) grand re-opening of restored and expanded restaurant includes a Museum Room which holds mechanical music instruments and the largest collection on public display of pre-1900 soda fountains; a country store with a rare collection of mercantile related antiquities; and the Whitman Room with a private soda fountain and the original front doors.
2010 Green River Room banquet hall above the country store is completed.
2013 Crystal Parlor Suite of Victorian rooms, a Soda Fountain Library, and a Mechanical Music Library above the original soda fountain is completed.
2013 (June 26) Replica of a 1914 Banjo Orchestra arrives at Zaharakos. Instrument makers Dan Ramey and Dustin Hott from the D.C. Ramey Piano Co. near Columbus, Ohio.
The major distinctions of the shop opened in 1900 were added in the first 11 years.
October 20, 1900 Confectionery opened at 329 Washington St. by Louis, James, and Pete Zaharako.
1904 The Liquid Carbonic Company display at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair inspired the Zaharako brothers to purchase two Mexican onyx soda fountains, installing one in 1905 and adding the second in 1911.
1905 Tiffany-style lamp/carbonated water dispenser with pink tulip lights added.
1908 Purchased full-concert German-made Welte orchestrion mechanical pipe organ for $5,000 from Freiburg, Germany. The only one known to be on public display in its original commercial location.
1911 To complement the twin soda fountains, the 50-foot dark-grained mahogany backbar with stained glass and mirrors and a 40-foot counter of Mexican onyx and Italian marble with onyx pillars were designed and installed by the Liquid Carbonic Company.
An original Edison lightbulb was found during renovation—complete with sticker and filament intact. It was the inspiration to use Edison reproduction bulbs today. It is on display in the Museum Room under a glass dome.
Photo of a Greek priest was found inside a wall. Unable to identfy, a copy was made, and the orginal placed back in the wall — assuming it was a blessing.
Zaharakos makes premium, ice cream on site.
Two-story skylights are original to the building.
First year’s rent receipt $50
Wood paneling is quartered sawn oak.
Tin ceiling was completely restored—except for one tile—by Mr. Charles Baker (1949-2020).
Original maple floor found under linoleum and was fully restored.
Original scrollwork archway, mirrored dining room and paneling.
Child-sized round table and chairs in use since the early 1900s.
11 matching late 1800s gas-lit chandeliers from Jahns Ice Cream Parlor (New York) were restored and wired for electricity and added to the dining room.
During WWII Zaharakos became self-serve due to staff shortages.
James & Anna Zaharako's photo in the Crystal Parlor — James was the “father of Zaharakos” and served as an Imperial guard for the King of Greece before coming to the U.S.
Original Zaharakos roll top desk on display in the upstairs office.
Zaharakos helped Columbus make the most of holidays and special occasions, including Mother’s day, by decorating the store and offering sweet treats. Decorating for the holidays is a tradition carried on to this day.
Rumored as the birthplace of the historic GOM cheese-brr-grr— a sloppy Joe grilled with cheese— is still served today.
Serves the Green River soda — developed during prohibition. And, the Classic orangeade — a frothy, blended frozen drink of orange juice, simple syrup, Sprite and ice.