Nutcracker Family Restaurant: Quizzical ’50s-style diner near Pataskala makes you smile
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Nutcracker Family Restaurant

Quizzical ’50s-style diner near Pataskala makes you smile


After visiting the impressive Works science museum in Newark, we were famished. Wendy had heard about a ’50s-style diner in nearby Pataskala, so we sought out the Nutcracker Family Restaurant.

It’s easy to see where the place got its name. There are nutcrackers everywhere, on wall ledges, windowsills and even on top of an old gas pump.

The combination of retro signs, neon lights, classic candies at the checkout counter and other ’50s accouterments didn’t seem to jibe with the dozens of nutcrackers, which emit a Christmasy, Germanic vibe. Still, it’s one of those places that elicits a smile when you enter.

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The counter has seating for half a dozen or more, and I suppose the wonder of finding a place like this amid rural Pataskala was worth the effort. The fact that the Nutcracker has been open more than 20 years is impressive enough on its own.

But the food isn’t something to write to Vienna about. My Reuben sandwich used what seemed like a pressed type of corned beef that wasn’t overly flavorful. Wendy said her veggie burger was “good.” The kids had kids meals, and they were decidedly kids-meal like.

However, like 6- and 8-year-olds would say, they can’t wait to go back. “It was so much fun,” Rosie said. She and Max dared each other to pick up one of the nutcrackers that was decked out like a firefighter. Wendy thought they would be glued down, but they weren’t.

They also enjoyed an animatronic-type band that appeared from behind a curtain and played along with the music they chose for a quarter on the jukebox. They also loved that their meal came with a free lunchbox, which they each chose upon departure.

The bottom line is that the Nutcracker Restaurant is a fun place to seek out if you’re on an adventure. As long as you check your “foodie” instincts at the door, you’ll enjoy the visit.

That said, the pies are made fresh daily, and weekly specials include all-you-can-eat perch on Tuesday and Friday, all-you-can-eat pasta on Wednesday and all-you-can-eat fried chicken on Thursday. Veterans eat free on Veterans Day and the day after Memorial Day.

The Nutcracker Family Restaurant is located at 63 E. Broad St., Pataskala. For more information, call 740-964-0056 or visit www.nutcrackerpataskala.com.

The Works: Head to Newark for interesting, inexpensive, interactive science museum
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The Works

Head to Newark for interesting, inexpensive, interactive science museum


The Works is an interactive science museum in Newark that proved to us worthy of a 40-minute drive east of Columbus for a hearty dose of mental fun.

The museum offered the right amount of entertaining activities that challenged our kids’ knowledge of history, art and technology at a fair price. We spent less than $30 for our family of four to play for several hours.

We started our adventure in the Main Gallery, where we explored an exhibit called “Lines of Sight” that illustrates the connection between art and mathematics through hands-on displays. It was neat to see how a drawing on a flat piece of paper can appear three-dimensional.

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We then motored to the main section of the museum on the first floor where there are lots of interactive stations called “labs.”  Each lab focuses on a particular topic like motion, sound, electricity and light and gives children and adults an opportunity to experiment.

We dug our hands into bins full of wheels and colorful plastic parts to create cars that we then raced down a ramp. It was fun to see that some illogical-looking contraptions outperformed others that seemed to make more sense.

Upstairs, visitors will find a boatload of history and see the remnants of this old building that during the 1800s was used to build steam engines. Exhibits highlight history and economic developments in Newark and Licking counties from the Paleo-Indians to modern times. The kids enjoyed typing on manual typewriters and calling each other on rotary phones. It was funny to observe them trying to figure out the rotary dial.

We also saw blobs of molten glass blown and transformed into colorful works of art in the Glass Studio. Visitors can watch demos or pop into the open studio the third Saturday of the month to fuse glass into sun catchers or jewelry.

Cost is $5 for children, $9 for adults and $7 for seniors. Children ages 2 and under get in free.

The Works is located at 55 S. First St., Newark. For more information, call 740-349-9277 or visit www.attheworks.org.

Doll Museum at the Old Rectory: Perfect place for a quick mommy-and-daughter adventure

Doll Museum at the Old Rectory

Perfect place for a quick mommy-and-daughter adventure


Exploring Worthington’s Doll Museum proved to be more of a treat than expected for my daughter, Rosie, and me one Saturday morning. The museum, located in the Old Rectory, provides a fascinating glimpse of hundreds of dolls and, curiously, is linked to a fantastic consignment shop that had us digging around for spare change.

Run by the Worthington Historical Society, the museum is contained in two rooms that are kept locked until you pay the $2 admission fee. Several other rooms contain the consignment shop, where you’ll find quality antiques and collectibles at reasonable prices. Unlike thrift-store merchandise, these items appear to have one day been someone’s favorite things. They included teacups and saucers with pretty rose designs, well cared for dolls with pressed outfits, and lots of doll clothes lovingly crafted.

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We started our adventure in the museum. Visitors are given a two-sided, laminated sheet with information describing the collection. They come from many sources, but most were donated by Mrs. George Brinton Chandler in 1968.

Some dolls on display once served as fashion models, shipped overseas from Paris donning the latest fads of the 1800s in doll-sized proportions. Their well-coiffed hairdos are made from human hair.

Other dolls depict famous royals such as Countess Dagmar of Denmark, who was married to Czar Alexander III, and Empress Eugenie of France, wife of Emperor Napoleon  III.

It was fun learning about the interesting materials used to construct some of the dolls, like paper mache for heads, pewter for hands and feet, and wood, rubber, wax and even a wishbone for the bodies.

I enjoyed the Shirley Temple dolls and a collection of ornamental dolls from Japan that represented an emperor, empress and their court.

Rosie’s favorites were two doll houses that were chockfull of furnishings and tiny, detailed decorations that looked fit to welcome a fairy.

We ended our tour by perusing the gift shop, full of enchanting merchandise that we felt propelled to consider. I bought a dainty glass poodle with pretty eyelashes. Rosie selected miniatures for her own doll house and a homemade lacy dress for her American Girl Doll. The shop accepts only cash or checks.

The Doll Museum is located at 50 W. New England Ave., Worthington. Hours are 1-4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday; and 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturday. Cost is $2 for a self-guided tour.

For more information call 614-885-1247 or visit www.worthingtonhistory.org.