The corner of Oak & 18th Streets has quickly become an Olde Towne East hotspot in the past three years. First came Yellow Brick Pizza, which was followed by The Angry Baker. On May 1st, The Tavern will be joining them when it opens its doors at 889 Oak Street.
We spoke with co-owners Kevin Burns and Brad Hobbs for a quick Q&A session about the new venue, who along with Krista Sparks has rebuilt this historic space into a new modern bar and restaurant.
Q: First, can you tell us a bit about your background as it relates to your new business?
Brad: We’ve both been in the restaurant industry for years. If you threw a rock anywhere in Columbus, chances are you’d hit a bar that Kevin or I have worked a shift at. I’ve been in the business since I was 16, and have done just about every job within the industry – from washing dishes to cooking to running my own bar. This is something I’ve always had a really deep connection with and I’ve always known this is what I wanted to do with my life.
Kevin: I really got my start in bars & restaurants here in Columbus – Mac’s Café, Don Pablos, I bartended in Hilton Head for a couple summers, also here in town at Brio and Lindey’s. I was the Beverage Manager at Harrah’s Las Vegas for 2 years, General Manager at Bar Louie for a couple years, Manager at Press Grill for 3 ½ years, and a few others thrown in there as well.
Q: What drew you to this location on Oak Street?
Kevin: I was drawn initially to Olde Towne East when I was in school at Ohio State. I fell in love with the beautiful architecture in the neighborhood. When I was in a position to purchase a home, Olde Towne seemed like a perfect fit. I love my house, and love the neighborhood. The location of The Tavern is really a dream come true. Brad and I have been dreaming about putting a restaurant on that corner since we all moved to the neighborhood. You can see that it was a vibrant commercial area at one point. Our spot was actually called the Oak Street Pharmacy at the turn of the 20th century.
Brad: When we first moved to the neighborhood 8 years ago, the corner of Oak and 18th was all boarded up. I don’t know how to explain it, but it was as if that corner always knew what it was supposed to be, it was just waiting for the right people to come along and take a chance. The transformation of 889 Oak Street into The Tavern has just felt “right” from the very beginning. We hope that The Tavern will continue the transformation of this corner into a destination within Olde Towne East.
Q: Do you feel like your target audience is from within the neighborhood, outside it, or both?
Kevin: Definitely both. First and foremost, we want the Tavern to be a place for our neighbors to come watch a game, or sit on the back patio and soak in some sunshine, or grab a late-night sandwich without leaving the neighborhood.
Brad: We’d also like to attract more of the Columbus bicycling community into Olde Towne. We are so excited for the opportunity to join other OTE businesses in making this neighborhood a destination for members of other communities to visit and see why we love it so much.
Q: What will the drink focus of the venue be?
Kevin: We will have 20 beers on tap, as well as a classic cocktail menu, complimented by an ever-growing Scotch selection. That being said, our experienced bar staff will be able to please all pallets, from novice to sophisticated.
Brad: Aside from these focuses, we’ll also offer numerous bottled beers as well as higher-end wines by the glass.
Q: What will The Tavern offer as far as the food menu goes?
Kevin: We will offer a full menu for lunch, dinner, and late night dining and carryout. The menu offers a little bit of everything, including many of our favorite dishes with a few twists. Fancy grilled cheese sandwiches, BBQ Pork Sliders, fresh green salads, home-made soups, and daily specials.
Brad: We will also be vegetarian and vegan-friendly, with items such as our Hummus & Tabbouleh Plate and Beet Sliders, to name a couple. Having grown up in Youngstown, Kevin and I are also both excited to bring some of our hometown flavors to Columbus, including a Briar Hill Pizza, Monkey Salad, and Baked Mozzerella.
Q: Anything else our readers should know?
Brad: We are so fortunate to be a part of such a great community. It’s an exciting time to be part of Olde Towne East. The neighborhood associations and community members have all pitched in to make our dream a reality, and we are very thankful for the opportunity to do what we love in such a supportive community.
Kevin: This is truly a dream come true for us. Our friends and family have also been very supportive. We just really can’t wait for people to come down and check out Olde Towne, definitely one of the best neighborhoods in Columbus.
More information can be found online at www.facebook.com/TavernOldeTowne.