Hamburgers with toppers and signature coleslaw brought back fond memories for former employees of Clancy’s of Bellefontaine during a 50-plus-year reunion event Saturday at the Grange Building of the Logan County Fairgrounds.
The restaurant opened at 936 S. Main St., Bellefontaine, in 1967, by Carl Fogelsong. His vision was “simple quality food at reasonable prices. That meant 100 percent pure beef, grade A potatoes, aged cheddar and seasame seed buns.”
His employees remembered that Fogelsong needed just the right symbol to embody the character of the new restaurant. He found that in “Clancy the Cop.”
Within 15 years, he opened 31 Clancy Hamburger Restaurants in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.
“You would often find Carl working the grill with his Clancy team,” former employees recalled.
Also noteworthy for the establishment, Clancy’s was the first double drive-thru in the Midwest, with dining seating for 35.
Former employees Tony Ganson, Cindy Eulrich, Cindy White and Phil Forsythe helped to plan and organize the local reunion festivities, alongside Ganson’s wife, Sharon, to celebrate the Bellefontaine restaurant. The location closed in 1982, when it was purchased by Taylor’s Rental and now is the site of Grand Rental Station.
The reunion committee members tracked down former employees living in several other states, including South Carolina and Virginia.
A restaurant reunion was not complete without the nostalgic and tasty all-American fare, and Clancy’s of Sidney catered the burgers for toppers and the original recipe coleslaw. Former employees took a covered dish to share.
“It was like a big family reunion,” said Mr. Ganson, who worked at the Bellefontaine restaurant while he was in high school from 1969 to 1973, and used money he earned to buy his first car and pay for car insurance.
“The first few minutes, we had to break the ice, and then everyone was standing up and sharing Clancy’s stories for the rest of the time. Everyone enjoyed catching up with friends, laughing and great food.”
In preparation for the big event, Mr. Forsythe, a longtime Bellefontaine City Schools teacher, also recalled his formative years spent working at Clancy’s.
“I worked my way through high school and college, and helped to pay for my education,” he said. “We worked hard and also had a lot of good times together, as kids from different parts of the county. It’s been fun to reconnect with folks that I haven’t seen in years.”
Blake Fogelson, grandson of Carl and owner/director of operations in Indiana, supported the event with memorabilia. The company now has several restaurants in Indiana, which includes The Fountain Room, Michelangelo’s Italian Bistro, Clancy Hamburgers, Grindstone Public House, Grindstone Charley’s and Grindstone on the Monon.
Nine deceased employees also were remembered with a candlelight ceremony. Each name was mentioned, along with the date of their birth and the date of their passing.
Mr. and Mrs. Ganson and Mr. Forsythe delivered the plaques, candles and flowers to the family members.
The reunion committee members also extended their appreciation to the 30 Bellefontaine businesses who donated door prizes for the event.