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The Grass Skirt Tiki Bar & Restaurant Opening Downtown in 2012

Walker Evans Walker Evans The Grass Skirt Tiki Bar & Restaurant Opening Downtown in 2012
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The Columbus Food League (previously known as The Betty’s Family of Restaurants) is expanding once again with the announcement of The Grass Skirt, slated to open Spring 2012 at 105 North Grant Street in Downtown Columbus. The Grass Skirt will be open for lunch, dinner and late night service.

This new restaurant and bar will be owned by a five-person partnership that includes Carmen Owens (Surly Girl Co-Owner/GM), Amy Brennick (Columbus Food League COO), Tim Lessner (Tip Top Kitchen Co-owner/GM) , Harold LaRue (Jury Room) and Elizabeth Lessner (Columbus Food League).

“The partners all have a long-time love of tiki bars and tiki culture,” said Elizabeth Lessner, co-founder of The Columbus Food League. “Whenever we visit other cities, we always look for tiki bars to visit. Harold has several old menus and other pieces of decor from the original Kahiki here in Columbus.”

The Grass Skirt will be housed in the former MadLab Theatre space, which relocated to North Third Street a year and a half ago. The planned renovation of the space includes a dynamic new interior featuring waterfalls and smoking volcanoes as well as a major exterior makeover.

“Because we are taking over an abandoned theatre space, we had an opportunity to do something truly unique,” Lessner said. “All of our other locations are housed in buildings that are 100 years old and that has always confined our vision, but this time the sky is truly the limit, so we’re having fun with it.”

The Grass Skirt will be located next door to the new Hills Market grocery store, which was announced two weeks ago, and will be collaborating with them on efforts to maintain green and sustainable businesses on their block  with the help of Eartha Limited.

More information will be made available over the coming months leading up to the Spring 2012 opening.

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  • yay! this was one of my favorite spaces in cbus, what an awesome use of it! : )

  • Congrats to the Columbus Food League. Another +1 for Downtown Columbus. Very exciting.

  • cc

    Looking forward to trying it out.

  • Just like the new Hills Market, this is half-way between home and work for us. Which is dangerously awesome. ;)

  • jbcmh81

    We’re quickly approaching a dozen new eateries Downtown in just the last 6-12 months. 

  • jpizzow

    Great news. Looks like they may have an opportunity for a HUGE patio to the front or side. Any plans for a beach volleyball court? ;)

  • mrsgeedeck

    Wow! Two awesome food options in walking distance. I may need to look into a gym membership now to account for my soon to be expanding waistline.

  • Great news!  I cannot wait for the custom tiki mugs that should come out of this.

  • I hope it fills the Kahiki-shaped hole in my heart!

  • Fantastic news.  What a unique concept for Columbus.  Congratulations Liz and team!  Can’t wait to go tiki!

  • Way to go, Columbus Food League!

  • Michael The G

    OH! This is so in my wheelhouse! What did I have to go and move 2000 miles away for :(
    YARBNALLS!!!!! (It’s a curseword, sorta’. Try it out, it’s fun to say)
    Still, just another great reason to come back and visit the Bus. Good luck to Liz and Team

  • I can taste the rum already!  Hopefully the Tiki Car can make it down for the opening  http://www.flickr.com/photos/thatcar/5849652972/ 

  • Graybeak

    105 is not a building that is “over a hundred years old”, that’s true.
    It’s most recent incarnation was built in 1930, so over 80 years old.
    I have many happy memories of this building. I hope I am able to make some more in the future.

  • Should be a slam dunk win, great concept, great location, hugely underserved market for that kind of service. What welcome news!

    Liz & the CFL crew really have great fantastic business sense.

  • Cobra McJingleballs

    5 owners? Seriously? What is this, Facebook?

  • mbatt227

    MadLab is very excited for this news. 105 will always be our first home and its very exciting to hear it will be a great place for people to hang out again. You shall see us there often I am sure.

  • Kahiki


  • JMUgrad04

    Wow! I am beyond excited.  Thanks for always thinking of new ideas and keeping Columbus a great place to live.

  • RayOfSon

    It’s becoming a Lessner monopoly for downtown eateries and bars.  Anyone else willing to cash in on this area?  1-2 businesses is one thing but is this now number six?  Does any other business entity have as many? Just curious.  I don’t support monopolies, I support sole business owners.

  • kellylaine

    Lessner is setting the trend, it’s up to others to follow. I’m sure she’d love the company.

  • Cobra McJingleballs

    Hmmm. March opening, I guess that means by May we’ll be hearing a story about how the Food League is upset about parking meters or sidewalk regulations.

  • Haters gonna hate.

  • Lauren Wilson

    I support people willing to put their time, money, and soul into areas of this city that really need a breath of life. Way to go Liz and Co. What a totally radballs team working on this one. Can’t wait.

  • Squee!  There is a chance I can drink coconut drinks out of fancy mugs?  I am there!

  • spyder33

    Maybe they can team up with the owner of Fleur for more of a French Polynesian concept.

  • GoogaMoga

    This is great!  I think it’s a wonderful idea.  I also think that there should be some MadLab/Tiki bar cross-over drinks … maybe the Roulette (named after that one-act thing MadLab does every year) where you give the bartender ten bucks and he gives you a large, random cocktail.

    It would totally work.  :-D

  • meltsintowonder

    It’s a monopoly if there’s only one person or company and there’s no opportunity for competition. Liz Lessner and others are opening restaurants downtown and trying to amp up the area, but there’s definitely opportunity for people to open a restaurant, bar etc. in the downtown area and coexist. If she’s not owner/operator of all the restaurants, then she has someone on her team with some level of ownership in these establishments? Or just bitter about her restaurants?

  • RayOfSon

    Thanks Walker for the mini-lesson on the term “monopoly”, your super smart! What is the correct term for 4 food/alcohol businesses in 1.7 miles area, or 30 minutes walk?  Saturating a market? I suppose it’s business savvy to be your own competition – but only if you are the only person with vested interest in all 4 places. Still curious how many other sole proprieter businesses are in that same range with more than 1 business? Are there any? Due Amici, Gordons, Lexi’s, Cafe Brioso, Mitchels?

  • My A

    Thank you for your kind words, everyone! We’re really excited.
    Rayofson: I know this is confusing, but CFL doesn’t actually own any of the businesses. We offer management/HR services to each distinct and unrelated entity. We seem unified because we adhere to the same mission, but we’re truly a family of independent businesses with eight different owners.
    Msgeedeck: Don’t worry, we’ll have some vegan fare to keep you svelte and healthy.
    Pizzow: Yes! We’ll have a patio *and* parking believe it or not. Alas, no volleyball.
    McJingleballs: I know… it’s like herding cats. Luckily, Surly Girl’s Carmen is taking the lead on this, and she’s an expert cat herder. ;)

  • futureman

    wait, Surly Girl and Betty’s are considered downtown?

  • RayOfSon — If these collective restaurants are saturating the market, then they’ll figure that out from a business perspective. Since each one is a different concept, and most have different groups of owners, I imagine they’re not to the point of where they’re competing with each other. From the customer perspective, as long as each one is providing something unique and local and interesting, I see little to actually complain about from a conceptual standpoint.

    As far as other sole proprietor businesses goes, I have no idea how many multi-unit operators there are. I imagine most independent restaurants businesses are LLCs anyway. I imagine there are a few who own multiple shops (like Danny’s Deli & Lexi’s)  but again… from a customer perspective, it doesn’t really matter much as long as the food is good and the experience is good.

  • dsigner

    Can we invent new meals (in addition to breakfast, lunch, dinner, late) and some pleasant way to empty my stomach contents more quickly so that I can simply eat more and more often?!? Too many good choices!!!

  • RayofSon,
    Did Liz run over your dog or something? Why not dig deep and invest your time, energy and cold cash to create a business?
    I wish Liz and company were “saturating” the market on my end of town.

  • jessica43452

    I really don’t understand the sentiment, RayofSun.
    A major dichotomy in the ‘buy local’, ‘support small businesses’ mind frame is the thought that when these businesses become successful, they’re no longer worthy of the support.  You support ‘sole business owners’, but if they actually have a solid business plan that allows them to grow and expand, suddenly they’re uncool and ‘monopolies’?  Hardly.
    If part of the basic philosophy of supporting local business is abandoning them once they achieve the goal you’ve encouraged, it’s a piss-poor concept at best. And if these expanding businesses are supportive of the community and innovate for the benefit of the wider business community? Keep them coming!  I’d rather have 20 well-run, high-quality, community-oriented business owners with 10 shops each than 100 business owners with less successful business models that turn over quickly, leave empty storefronts and waste my customer dollars on mediocre experiences.

    And I don’t mean it as a personal attack =) I find your sentiment pervasive and, obviously, it really bothers me.

  • Tikiskip

    Good luck to the Grass Skirt!
    You may know that the bar that was a testing ground for the Kahiki was called the Grass shack.
    The Grass shack burned down on Bill Sapps birthday, Musta been one heck of a party!!
    If I can help in anyway let me know here are some of the lights I make.

    And a link to all things Kahiki.

    Good Luck!!!
    See you there.

  • “What is the correct term for 4 food/alcohol businesses in 1.7 miles area, or 30 minutes walk? ”

    I believe the term you are looking for is:

  • Our neighborhood and Discovery District will truly benefit from another great restaurant!  We are super excited!!  I will have a new grocery AND restaurant nearly at my doorstep in the spring.  Score!

  • bronwag

    Excellent,  can you arrange for cabs to hang around this bar?  Tiki bar patrons tend to need them.
    Please take a visit to Kon Tiki in Tucson, and Frankie’s tiki room in Vegas for some inspiration.
    Surf rock is a must!

  • ColdRoller

    I haven’t seen an update in any of the Dispatch publications. Anyone know when this place is supposed to open?

  • harold

    ColdRoller et al,

    Due to circumstances beyond our control, actual work on the space was delayed, though vital work continued on the backend. We’re working hard and fast now and expect a late-August opening.

    The gang from Fraternal Order of Moai (http://fraternalorderofmoai.org/) and Surf Ohio (http://surfohio.com/) have been pitching in with a wealth of knowledge, ideas, enthusiasm…and gobs of tiki stuff!

    This is a super-fun project to work on and we, along with the folks at Hills Market, are excited to bring some more life to an underserved section of downtown.

    Thanks for all of your patience and enthusiasm!

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