The Clubhouse Sports Grill & Bar Now Open
It’s easy to see why any entrepreneur would want to open a business at 340 Greenlawn Avenue. It’s across the street from Berliner Park, one of the largest ballpark facilities in the city, adjacent to four major communities – Downtown, Merion Village, Brewery District, and German Village – and easy to access from the highway.
In fact, so popular is the address that in recent memory it’s been home to Allure’s Cocktail Lounge, Field House Tavern, Banana Bean Café, Tavern on the Lawn, and Coyote Jane’s. None of these places were under the management of Corbin Wrights and Ryan Stroup though, a couple of guys who believe they’ve found the right combination of atmosphere and offering.
Wrights and Stroup have been working for The CSG Group family of bars (Park Street Cantina and Complex, The Social, The Saloon) for the past 15 years, and now they’re ready to branch out on their own. The Clubhouse Sports Grill & Bar opened on January 10th, a food-first venture the guys hope will turn things around at the cursed location.
They hired Head Chef Howard Biggard, who is himself a veteran in the industry, having created the original menus for Jerome Bettis’ Grille 36 in Pittsburgh and Eddie George’s Grille 27 on the campus of The Ohio State University. His approach – elevated pub fare with clever twists – is familiar, comforting, and utterly delicious.
Upon first glance at the menu, diners will find what’s expected at most sports bars: shareable appetizers, wings, burgers, and pizzas. Closer examination reveals, however, that despite having a familiar title, the food at The Clubhouse is unpredictable, in the best possible ways.
The Clubs BBQ Chicken Pizza is surprising in its winning combination of Polynesian BBQ sauce, grilled wings, crushed peanuts, and cilantro, on hand-tossed artisan dough. It’s one of the better version of this trendy pie I’ve tried, as are the Cheese Balls – huge globs of fresh mozzarella dipped in a light tempura-style batter and served with pepperoni marinara.
The creativity and attention to flavor really shines though with the Mushroom Swiss Burger. Biggard batters and deep fries 2 large portabella mushroom caps to serve as the bun, and then adds a quality quarter-pound Angus beef patty and all the fixings. It’s messy and juicy and hearty. And for dessert, there are make-your-own Ice Cream Sammy Sundaes: cookies, ice cream, and toppings.
The Clubhouse also serves a simple drink menu of four cocktails, which primarily use Buckeye Vodka, and always come in mason jars, like every other drink in the joint . They have 13 taps pouring sports bar staples, as well as a tap designated local-only. The Clubhouse Juice, $4.25 every day, is like spiked gatorade, and the official drink of the bar in keeping with its theme.
The 3,000 square feet Clubhouse Sports Grill & Bar comfortably holds 100 guests, and there are plans to add another 30-40 seats with the addition of a 1,000 square feet patio once the weather warms, which will be built out in front. Wrights and Stroup installed garage doors when they opened, and these will connect the patio to the rest of the restaurant.
There are also plans to build 3-4 volleyball sand courts in the back, and create a league this Spring for those who love to play. The primary target group for The Clubhouse include the many athletes who frequent Berliner Park, like the softballers who play one of their biggest tournaments every year there, families, and urbanites.
This Spring will also bring the creation of more parking spots, as well as lunch service, as the kitchen is really the heart and soul of the place, despite being a sports bar with a dozen 60″-70″ televisions tuned to the customers’ favorite games. You may come for the viewing, but you’ll come back for the food.
“We don’t want to be labeled as a bar; we’re a restaurant first, and that’s why we’re pushing really good food,” shares Wrights about taking this risk. “We’re the underdogs coming in here, but we have the experience, and we’re finally doing our own thing, and following our dream.”
The Clubhouse Sports Grill & Bar is open Monday-Thursday, 4pm – midnight, Friday, 4pm – 2:30am, Saturday, noon – 2:30am, and Sunday, noon-midnight. For more on their events, happy hour, and a complete look at the menu, check out www.theclubhousecolumbus.com.
Photos by Craig Ferance.