Columbus, Ohio USA
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Dis 'n' Data
By Margaret Marten, Editor
July/August 2017


New Wine Bar's Specialty is Tasting

In 2005, a boutique winery opened at 958 N. High St. in the Short North. At the time, the winery, Camelot Cellars was Ohio’s first on-premise winery shop, allowing customers to mix up and label their own wine batch. In 2011, Janine Aquino took over the business from founders Chuck and Mary Frobose and eventually moved it to Olde Towne East. Meanwhile, the Short North space on High is once again pouring out the wine with the May opening of Tastings – A Wine Experience, serving wine, craft beer, cocktails and light food menus – as well as brunch on the weekends. It’s a wine bar not a winery, so you won’t be mixing up your own Camelot-style batch. But if you want to imbibe, there is wine aplenty (some 200 labels) sold by the bottle, glass, and by tasting with pre-paid cards that serve 2-, 4- and 6-ounce portions from state-of-the-art dispensers. Tastings boasts one of the largest selections in the world for wines-by-the-taste. After Camelot Cellars moved in 2016, the High Street space was vacant for over a year in anticipation of Tastings arrival. Owner Ross Bailey launched the business in Indianapolis eight years ago at the age of 25. Interestingly, boats and bicycles mapped his circuitous route into the world of wine and wine tasting. After attending Indiana University, plans for law school were abandoned after a summer job driving boats off the mesmerizing California coast of Catalina Island evolved into a longer commitment. Two years later, before finally returning home to Indiana, Bailey took a bicycle trip down the California coast from San Francisco to Tijuana with a group of friends. “It was a fantastic trip and really my first experience seeing California in its entirety and how vastly different it becomes as you move south,” he said. “It was also my first experience seeing vineyards in California and really drinking wine regularly, and in healthy quantities.” He was hooked. The fond memory of wine and California vineyards lingered during subsequent discussions with his father about opening a business together, and with his family’s support, expertise, and direction, he was able to pursue his newly found passion. “I dove right into all facets of the industry,” he said. “The business aspect of it was fun and challenging and the more I learned about wine the more I fell in love with it.” Visit Tastings at or call 614-867-5525 to learn more. Hours are Tuesday through Thursday 3-11, Friday and Saturday 11-1a, Sunday 11-10p.

Two Truths bar

Two Truths bar is doing business at 1205 N. High St. The location is well-known as the former Blazer’s Pub, serving there for 16 years before closing in 2011. In early 2013, the Candy Cane Party House operated at that address, specializing in pole fitness, exotic dance instruction, private parties and events, but left a year later. It wasn’t until June 2016, when Buns & Brews opened, that the space seemed to have a viable tenant to supplant Blazer’s. The Hightower brothers spent months fixing up the place, but they were out by the end of the year claiming they needed more space. (The new location for Buns & Brews is set to open soon at 970 Parsons Avenue just south of Whittier. The lack of kitchen facilities and parking were what drove them away.) In any case, Adam Singh, who is in charge of Two Truths bar, has inherited a fresh, finished interior to launch his concept of conversation, cocktails, music and art. The name Two Truths reflects Egyptian mythology – that and the fact that there are some shelves of books and no televisions in the bar, gives some indication of Singh’s non-conformist approach. On the other hand, he could be a comformist to non-conformism.

After seeing the word “speakeasy” repeatedly crop up in media coverage of Two Truths bar, and after Googling the word, I spotted a trend. Esther Mobley’s article “Please stop calling your legal, open-to-the-public bar a ‘speakeasy’” was the first indication of a national trend. Next, I came across a Columbus Monthly review of The Light of Seven Matchsticks, the bar below Natalie’s Coal-Fired Pizza in Worthington, described as a speakeasy with a “small collection of old books on the shelves,” which made me wonder. No matter. Two Truths’ objective is to attract creative types, to encourage conversation, and (they promise) to come up with an appetizing menu for late-night brunch. Mike Schaaf is the cocktail artist. Derick Smith is their chef in charge of breakfast sandwiches, small plates, snacks, and other inspired cuisine.

Penzone Barbershop

The name of Charles Penzone’s new business Royal Rhino Club Barbershop and Lounge is a mouthful, and the shop itself is an eyeful. An imposing metal rhino sculpture wearing a crooked crown of royalty towers over the front awning. The elaborate cavernous interior holds an exhaustive amount of decorative items alluding to masculinity and animals: more rhinos, wild game artwork, a glittering gold elephant head, a retro motorcycle, and many miscellaneous antiques and collectibles from Penzone’s private collection. Penzone, who has been staffing salons for almost half a century, opened the new barbershop, his first, in Italian Village at 993 N. Fourth St. in May. The shop embraces an ongoing trend in men’s haircare: cuts, beard trims, and wet shaves. The shop also contains a lounge room with full bar and billiard table. A yoga salon is scheduled to open in the back to appeal to the women who drop in for an occasional cut. Coincidentally, not too long ago, the Short North had another rhino-related business. Cory Bee’s men’s apparel store Righno (spelling variant) opened across from the post office on E. Fourth St. in October 2015 and remained a few months before moving to High St. next to Out of the Closet where it was based briefly before a permanent move to Cincinnati a year ago. The Royal Rhino Club Barbershop and Lounge, 993 N. Fourth St., is open early every day except Wednesday (open at 2p) and Sunday (closed). Visit The phone number is 614-396-2199.

Freedom a la Cart Café

Columbus Metropolitan Library’s new Northside Branch at 1423 N. High St. has set up a cafe named Annie Maude’s Café which is run by Freedom a la Cart, a foodcart and catering business created in 2011 to help survivors of human trafficking – providing employment to allow those survivors to develop job skills and a healthy lifestyle. This will be their first mini café, and the Short North is honored to have them serving this neighborhood. The group is guided by the life-affirming principles of hope, beauty, trust, compassion, and collaboration. Along with One Line Coffee, expect fresh-baked pastries, yogurt parfaits, and veggie snacks. Annie Maude Battelle (1863-1925), after whom the café is named, was an active suffragist and the first woman to serve on the trustee board of the Columbus Library. She and her son Gordon established and endowed the Battelle Memorial Institute.

Drunch Eatery & Bar

Another locally owned restaurant has launched in the burgeoning Italian Village business district. Dustin Brafford and Danisa Suta are the owners of Drunch Eatery & Bar, now open at 995 N. Fourth St. next to Penzone’s new barbershop and Cosecha Cocina. Their specialty is a broad brunch menu available from 6 a.m. to dinnertime. A soft opening was held on July 6. Visit and Facebook for a look at the menu.

KILN menswear

A new men’s apparel store opened next to Lindsay Gallery at 988 N High St. in May after debuting as a pop-up in Rowe Boutique late last year. Maren Roth, who runs Rowe, and her fiance, Marc Desrosiers, are the proud owners of the new shop Kiln, which features unique American-made clothing lines by independent designers, including Desrosiers’ private label Bold Coast. (See the article about Roth and Desrosiers in this issue on page 16.) The number is 614-867-5610.

Coming Attractions

The new UDF building scheduled to open early next year at 900 N. High St. – mentioned in this column last issue – has another tenant lined up. The restaurant chain Babalu Tapas & Tacos, based in Mississippi, selling upscale Latin-inspired cuisine with specialty tapas-style hors d’oeuvres, will be joining UDF on the ground floor of the Elford four-story development. Serendipity Labs, a coworking space, will also be moving into the building.

Hai Poké, a restaurant serving Hawaiian-style sushi bowls, is set to open soon at 647 N. High St. near the First Commonwealth Bank. Previous tenants there include A Gal Named Cinda Lou and Bakery Gingham. Currently a food truck and pop-up, Hai Poké can be found at the Oddfellows Liquor Bar in the Short North at 1038 N. High, Tuesday through Friday from 4 to 9 p.m. and a couple other locations around town. Visit

Junction Cookhouse and Bar will eventually open in the former Callander Dry Cleaners’ space at 608 N. High St. right off the Cap, serving American Tex-Mex cuisine. The plan to occupy that space was publicized six months ago in Columbus Underground, but no further news has surfaced.

A Cameron Mitchell restaurant is scheduled to open next year in the former Rigsby’s Kitchen space at 698 N. High along with another Mitchell concept that will be stationed across the street at 711 N. High on the ground floor and rooftop of the nine-story highrise being built there by developers Wood Cos. and Schiff Capital Group. With the opening of the new Cap City Fine Diner in Dublin this month, Mitchell currently has 29 locations.

The storefront at 1175 N. High on the north side of the parking lot beside Magnolia Thunderpussy (vacated by Raw Material Salon earlier this year) will be transformed into a bar by the end of 2017. The Scottish brewery BrewDog plans to open their third Central Ohio location in that spot before winter. Founded 10 years ago by two young entrepreneurs, BrewDog chose Columbus as their first US venture.

The vacant Japanese Steak House across from the Convention Center at 479 N. High is transitioning into Fuzzy’s Taco Shop. Described as a Baja-style, fast- casual Mexican restaurant, the Texas-based chain is set to open this fall. The Japanese Steak House closed in June 2016 after almost 25 years at that location, although the business itself had been in operation 45 years.

Two businesses already operating in the Short North are expected to expand to locations across from the Convention Center in the former Yankee Trader building by the end of the year. Mikey’s Late Night Slice is setting up at 457 N. High with a full bar and lunch service. The Candle Lab will have their sixth location at 459 N. High by October. Candle Lab is also located at 751 N. High next to the Phia Salon.


The women’s fit fashion apparel store Bend Active, which opened in December at 1104 N. High St. next to Standard Hall, closed not too long afterwards. The site had not brought in the business they expected. Their Lane Avenue location remains open.

The old Surly Girl Saloon space at 1126 N. High is changing hands. The Short North Parlor Room, which supplanted Surly in July 2016 closed. The owner, Columbus Tavern Group, which runs four other pubs including Novak’s Tavern & Patio across from the Convention Center, announced in June that they closed in preparation of a pending sale.

Green Olive Co. has completed its scheduled move into the North Market after exiting 861 N. High next to Impero Coffee where Lisa McCormack launched the new business in December 2012, selling extra-virgin, single-varietal olive oils and top-shelf vinegars.

The Family Dollar Store is no more. The 1101 N. High location closed along with three other in Central Ohio as a result of the sale to Dollar General in April. It was just announced that the other three locations will be converted into Dollar General stores by late fall.


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