East Side ending

Popular First Street eatery calling it quits after 53 years.
Melissa Topey
Feb 8, 2014


A Sandusky mainstay is closing Feb. 15.

Jim and Nancy Sharpe opened the doors of Jim and Nancy’s East Side Cafe 53 years ago.

“That first day I came to work I thought I was hot stuff. I wore a red dress and high heels. That changed real quick,” NancySharpe recalled.

Nancy, who is now 81, can still be found at the East Side Cafe, but she leaves most of the work to others.

Sneakers became her footwear of choice in all the years she and Jim, who died in 1992, ran the eatery.

“It was a lot of work. It was also a lot of fun” Nancy said.

The men from the area factories and foundries would fill the cafe at lunch and for 35 cents have a hamburger and a draft beer. If the workers wanted to splurge, a roast beef dinner was 65 cents.    That is the biggest change the Sharpe family has seen over the years, the closing of the plants that surrounded them.

The blue collar workers are seen a lot less at lunch.

Today they see a lot more tourists on their way to the nearby marinas.

Judges, CEOs and politicians eat at the cafe.

Like the business slogan reads, it’s “where the elite meet to eat”

To the Sharpe family and their employees, every one of the thousands of customers who have walked in the doors has been one of the elites.

“I am going to miss the people. Our regulars, we knew what they drank and where they sat,” said Kim Berning, who has worked at the cafe for 16 years.

The five Sharpe children, Candy (now a Howman), George, Jim, Jack (also known as Del) and Dan will also miss the place where they grew up. They lived in the rooms upstairs from the cafe.

“As kids we were not allowed in here; it was a bar, after all,” Candy said. “It was a treat to come downstairs. We just sat at the table and we ate or had a pop”

That is, until they got older and started to help waiting tables, washing dishes or whatever needed to be done.

“I am sad to see it go. I remember the pool leagues, the New Year’s Eve parties and the OSU games” George said. It is simply time to let the East Side Cafe go as it becomes harder and more costly to meet all the licensing and operating requirements, Nancy said. All good things come to an end. “Thanks for the memories,” George said.


Comrade Boose

So sad the prices have always been reasonable. Why couldn't it have been an over price place like Red Gables. Good luck Sharpe family thanks for the memories.

pigeon farmer

We had a lot of fun on the bus trips to the Browns games. I still laugh when I think think about Fu Boy yelling Russy Russy Russy all the way to Cleveland and back. The bus driver finally giving up and opened the top vents to the bus. :)

pigeon farmer



I had lunch there once, never drank there but everything was fine! I always heard good stuff about the place.

HS Sports Fan

I discovered the East Side in 1980 when I worked at Barr Rubber. I've been going there for 35 yrs now. I will miss this place, Lots of memories. The lunch specials and salad bar I'll never forget and the specials during Lent. This hurts!


What a nice family! Really good people. They'll be missed deeply. Love ya, Sharpe family.


How sad, to lose this place. Always was my favorite burger and fries. Sandusky will be a little more empty without them. Never had a bad meal or poor service in the 35+ years I've been going there. God bless Nancy & Candy, they are great women and extremely hard workers.


Question how much the closing has to do with the closure of First Street this past fall. Enough people complained the City finally put up "open to local business" signs.

The Bizness

Those signs were up since they started construction as far as I know.


Not true. I live on one of First Street side streets. Original signs said "street closed".

Stop It

Excellent place, excellent food and excellent people. They will be missed.

Edit: The first time I went there was right after wisdom tooth surgery back in 1981. I wasn't allowed to eat 24 hours before and was told not to eat for at least 12 hours after. Screw that. Took the pain killers and told my bud who had to drive to take me to the best place to eat some good food that WASN'T a chain store.


FuBoy is the Dan Sharpe of Cabana Jacks, not the East Side.


Frequented the place when I lived in Sandusky and try to visit once or twice a year when I return. I certainly could not be considered a regular, but, I knew a good "go-to" establishment when I saw one. Things change, and I wish Nancy and family all the best. It's places like the East Side that help define a town, but, time marches on. Hopefully the weather holds off and I can make the trip up later this week.


Many great memories there. All the best to the family!


The end of another Sandusky tradition. Too bad. Love the salad bar on the pool table and had many fun nights shooting pool league there. I will miss it.


Been a long time but I remember they had that Taco special on Tuesdays. Was nice to sit down and have a few beers and some Tacos. Geat service and good food.

red white and blue

Maybe del will finally open that pharmacy.