Country Music Bar & Restaurant Headed for Short North
Brian Swanson (Bodega) is opening up a new Short North restaurant in Nashville style. Bristol Republic, a live music venue, barbecue restaurant and bourbon bar, will take over the former Basil space at 1124 N. High St.
Those familiar with Smoked on High will feel right at home at Bristol; Smoked on High owner Max McGarity is leading the barbecue efforts, setting up a smoker on-site and bringing his brand of barbecue to a new side of town.
“When [Swanson] said ‘country, bourbon, barbecue,’ I raised my hand and said ‘I’m in,’” says McGarity, who opened up Smoked on High in the Brewery District in 2017. “There’s not a lot like that in the Short North, or really in the greater Columbus area.”
Smoked on High favorites, like their smoked brisket, smoked sausages, ribs, pork, and house made sauces, will all make an appearance on the Bristol Republic menu, along with a handful of burgers, chicken sandwiches and salads. Unlike Smoked on High, Bristol Republic will be full service. McGarity will be hands on with the kitchen staff, offering education on smoking methods and recipes as well.
Behind the bar, Swanson says there’ll be a full inventory of bourbons and whiskeys, including a bottle of their own produced in partnership with Watershed Distillery. Bristol Bourbon will make its debut on the restaurant’s opening day.
Swanson says he’s had the idea for Bristol Republic in his back pocket for several years as he waited for the right spot to come along. In December, he teamed up with Rhome Ruanphae, whose family owns the building once occupied by Basil, to transform the space and bring his idea to full form.
“Bristol is actually, like, the home of country music — allegedly. It’s where it started. I’ve been looking for a spot for three or four years, so I was excited to get the Basil space,” he says. “It’s got such great bones that work well with this concept, and I kind of want to bring a little slice of Nashville here to Columbus.”
The interior will be unrecognizable to former Basil patrons. Once an intimate restaurant with pockets of dining areas, it’s now a completely open venue with two bars, a stage for live music, elevated private event areas, a full kitchen and a smoker room.
The aesthetic will certainly channel the country spirit of Nashville, Swanson says, but “It’s not going to be honkey tonk, it’s a little more Short North than that.”
Bristol Republic has live music booked from its opening through August, with bands traveling in from Nashville, Austin, and Chicago, along with some local acts. Guests can look forward to live entertainment at the country bar every Thursday through Saturday night, as well as during brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
For more information, visit bristolrepublic.com.