Dick’s Dive to Open Inside Zeno’s Basement
Thirty-four year old Zeno’s will see a number of changes this year.
The Harrison West bar will add an outdoor seating area, and a second bar will open inside of their basement event space.
Named Dick’s Dive, the lower level bar pays homage to Richard “Dick” Allen, Zeno’s founder and prolific Columbus bar owner, who passed away last year.
With its own separate entrance, bar and bathrooms, Zeno’s basement has long served as an affordable event space. But as longstanding Columbus establishments have closed over the years to make way for new, trendy concepts, owner Quinn Allen says Dick’s Dive can serve as a place that provides a different, homey atmosphere for the community, “a place where they can just relax and not have to feel like they have to put on a three-piece suit to drink a beer.”
Allen hopes to recreate and blend the experiences his father built out during his career, pulling from places like The Oar House, Travel Agency, Surf City, Dead Eye Dick’s Saloon, The Bombay Yacht Club and others to build a cohesive “regular” vibe.
Luckily, because Dick ran 19 different concepts in his lifetime, the Zeno’s crew has a lot of bar decor to pick from.
“That’s what’s great, is we got all this stuff, whether it’s old neons, old decor, that we’re going to be able to pile into this and make it, like, the holy mecca of his life’s work,” says Allen. “He took all that time redefining what the perfect bar is, and now we’re going to be able to pull all those pieces together and make it his ultimate vision.”
“It’s going to be a really heartfelt project on our end, and our goal is to have that radiate throughout the community” Allen adds, “because they’ve been just as much a part of our family as anybody.”
Making time for cosmetic changes, Dick’s Dive will open in August, right around the year anniversary of Dick’s death. Allen says Dick was struggling with health complications that began last February, and he ultimately succumbed to kidney failure. He was 68.
Allen chalks it up to a lifetime in the bar business, which can promote an unhealthy way of life. Zeno’s regulars and staff would call Dick the bar mascot, always sitting at a stool at the end of the bar, hand around a wooden mug with his name on it.
“It’s not the healthiest, but he wouldn’t change a damn thing,” says Allen. “He was partying until his last days.”
Dick’s Dive is one of two projects coming together for Allen. He’s also working on getting a patio added, a goal the bar has had since the restaurant smoking ban was initially being considered.
Allen says it’ll bring the bar up to par with nearby venues and bring in patrons for patio season. It’ll be a simple feature, a 350 square foot space with just some extra seating and a black perimeter fence, but Allen sees it as an opportunity to give the building a face lift and grab people off the street.
The patio application is still waiting on approval. A timeline has yet to be determined.
Don’t miss the next update! Subscribe to CU via email for news in your inbox: