JOHNSTOWN – He wanted to be an architect. She wanted to be a restauranteur and/or travel agent. Instead, they ended up making furniture – and opening a bar/restaurant. They’re Dennis and Denise Blankemeyer, owners of Crow Works and Ghostwriter Public House.
“We want to create, build and serve,” Dennis explained. “Crow Works and Ghostwriter Public House gives us this opportunity.”
The two grew up in Kalida, Ohio, a small town in the northwest part of the state. They graduated from Kalida High School in 1987. Dennis then graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a Bachelor of Architectural Engineering. “I thought I would grow up to be an architect,” he said, “not design and manufacture furniture.”
“I liked to play with wood blocks and Legos growing up,” he added, “so I’m sure those activities highly influenced my decision to become an architect. However, my father owned a manufacturing company, so I guess it’s ‘in the blood.’”
Denise meanwhile went on to graduate from Associated School of Travel in North Miami Beach, Florida. Her intention was to become a travel agent, sort of.
“At a young age, I knew I enjoyed cooking, serving and being around people,” she said. “My first real job at the age of 15 was at a carryout that had a café inside. I’ve always been interested in a career that revolves around service and creating great experiences for people. I’ve always dreamed about owning a restaurant but never thought about owning a furniture manufacturing business.”
That started in a somewhat roundabout way when the two lived in the Columbus neighborhood of Clintonville – and they were looking for some furniture. “Both of us had a love of design and we were looking for very specific furniture,” Denise clarified. From there, in 1995 they opened their own retail store. And before long they started selling “vintage industrial” furniture, which “instantly became top sellers.”
“People from around the country were driving and flying into Columbus to purchase the vintage industrial style,” Denise said. “That evolved into Crow Works. So we went from retail to residential to commercial.”
Most of their goods are made in Holmes County. In 2019 they moved their offices to Johnstown. Then they realized they needed a showroom, so they opened Ghostwriter Public House, a full-service bar and restaurant.
“It’s our showroom,” Denise stated. “Everything from the footrails to the bar stools to the aprons the servers wear to the walnut plates are all made by Crow Works.”
“So we’re feeding two passions,” she continued. “It’s a marketing space and showroom for Crow Works and it also fills the dream of becoming a restaurant owner.”
“We wanted to give back to the community,” Dennis noted. “We absolutely love what we do, and we love serving people.”
“I wouldn’t change my life’s path for the world,” Denise summed. “I feel so lucky I get to wake up to something I’m extremely passionate about, and the best part is I get to do it every day alongside my husband.”
For more information about Crow Works and/or Ghostwriter Public House, log on www.crowworks.com and/or www.ghostwriterph.com.
Aces of Trades is a weekly series focusing on people and their jobs – whether they’re unusual jobs, fun jobs or people who take ordinary jobs and make them extraordinary. If you have a suggestion for a future profile, let us know at [email protected] or 740-328-8821.
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