RL Valley Ranch Smashburger at Ghostwriter Public House in Johnstown (photo by Brian Kaiser)
Food + Drink

Get Comfortable at Ghostwriter Public House

This Licking County spot balances elegance and simplicity in both its restaurant space and menu filled with modern interpretations of American classics.

Along the stretch of brick buildings on Johnstown’s Main Street, Ghostwriter Public House’s sleek, dark-gray exterior is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it spot. Look closer though, and you’ll catch a glimpse of the opulent chandelier that shines like a beacon in the main dining room.

Dennis and Denise Blankemeyer brought their take on a fine-dining experience to the Licking County community of Johnstown in 2019, and they also operate the adjoining Crow Works, a furniture supplier for restaurants that created the tables, chairs and banquettes that give Ghostwriter Public House its elegant atmosphere.

“We want you to come as you are and come comfortable,” says general manager Elizabeth Dietrich. “If you’re off in the fields in Carhartts and want to grab a beer on your way home, please come in … If you want to have a nice, romantic dinner with your wife, please come in.”

Interior of Ghostwriter Public House in Johnstown (photo by Brian Kaiser)

Ghostwriter’s aesthetic is defined by steel barstools and brass-knuckle bar taps as well as cushioned seating and soft lighting. The splendor of Ghostwriter extends beyond the walls of the restaurant too. Three Airbnb spaces a block away on the second floor of Main Street’s businesses can be rented for overnight stays or private events.

Chef Bradley Balch oversees the restaurant’s lineup of locally sourced, seasonally rotating dishes. Some items stick around all year, like the Black Radish Creamery Cheese Curds sourced from Columbus and the RL Valley Ranch Smashburger. The latter is an elevated take on a classic smothered in caramelized onions and pickles and prepared on the kitchen’s flattop. Other dishes are prepared using the wood-grilled stove to give meats and veggies a smoked flavor. On weekends, brunch brings dishes like biscuits and sausage gravy and the breakfast chimichanga.

Black Radish Creamery Cheese Curds at Ghostwriter Public House in Johnstown (photo by Brian Kaiser)

Ghostwriter’s arrival was a departure for the quiet community, but it still honors Johnstown’s roots. Ornate gold frames over both bars depict local historic moments, including the opening of the train depot and the discovery of a mastodon skeleton in 1926.

“We are proud to be in Johnstown,” Dietriech says. “If this was downtown [Columbus], it would be one of [many], and up here, it is its own entity.”

49 1/2 S. Main St., Johnstown 43031, 740/809-1104, ghostwriterph.com