First Look: Fives Up High

Susan Post Susan Post First Look: Fives Up HighFives Up High makes its debut January 5 - All photos by Susan Post
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First there was Toos (RIP), then Threes, then Fours. Now, Scott Ellsworth and company have worked themselves up to Fives Up High, appropriately making its debut at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, January 5.

Ellsworth, along with owner-operator leadership team Sam McNaughton (who will be the GM of this particular location), Aaron Thompson, Cory Harmon and Jon White (resident bar musician), have taken over the former home of Hendoc’s Pub in Old North, 2375 N. High St.

If you’ve been to any of Fives’ numbered predecessors, Ellsworth says you’ll know what to expect.

“It’s the same thing. It’s all on brand for us,” he says. “It’s how you feel when you walk in; it’s how the staff treats you when you walk in. It’s how you feel when you hear Jon or Cody playing. It’s the whole encompassing vibe that I think that we didn’t realize right away after Toos closed that we had that – that we had a brand that could kind of move around High Street and people still wanted it and enjoy what we do.”

Fives already has its own festive swag

McNaughton says each bar takes on a little bit of its own style and culture, but the staples are the same. Staples like a dive bar atmosphere, cheap drinks and classic bar entertainment. (However, as a side note, Ellsworth promises Fives has the nicest women’s restrooms yet.)

Drink specials at Fives will likely be on par with its campus counterpart, Threes – cost-effective for a campus crowd. Thursday nights will be for karaoke and patrons will find live tunes on Friday and Saturday nights.

Heading just a little further north from campus, 420 steps from Threes to be exact, the team expects they’ll share a lot of customers with Threes, and even Fours, and attract some of the older students that live in the off-campus area. But, McNaughton says they really pride themselves on being a bar for everyone, including locals and regulars in the neighborhood looking for a dive.

For shuttling between bars, there is also the Threes bus. Running from 10 p.m. – 2 a.m., bar goers DM Threes on Twitter or Instagram for a free ride to any of the group’s watering holes. To help keep customers safe, after 12:30 a.m., the bus posts up outside of Threes and will take patrons back home after their nights of revelry.

Fives has a small stage for live music

As for adding another High Street establishment as the world rounds the corner on year two of the coronavirus pandemic, the opportunity came to Ellsworth. Sharing an attorney with Hendoc’s, Ellsworth was approached to buy the bar after it struggled during the pandemic. He thought, “Why not?”

Ellsworth and the team of owner-operators he’s put together also allowed for the expansion. McNaughton, Thompson and Harmon all started out at the door of Toos, working their way up to bartenders then managers then owner-operators, each with different roles and ownership stakes at the portfolio of bars.

“The five of us have really found a way to work really well together through the years and that’s not always easy with five cooks in the kitchen,” Ellsworth says.

As for if there could ever be a Sixes…Ellsworth wouldn’t want anyone running a bar if they weren’t an owner-operator or invested business partner and everyone has their fill for now. However, if the company were to grow, Thompson says they could open Thirty-Fives and the experience would still be the same.

“The authenticity is never going to change with our brand,” Ellsworth says.

Fives Up High will be pouring drinks from 5 p.m. – close opening weekend with regular hours to be finalized.

For more information, visit threesabovehigh.com/fives.

All photos by Susan Post

Fives is ready to open its doors in Old North

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