Bar profile: Meet Bodega 2.0

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From the May 15, 2014 edition

Citizens of the Short North, the wait is finally over. Closed since early February, beloved beer bar Bodega reopened Monday after undergoing extensive renovations (and a few concept tweaks).

“We stopped trying to cram more things into the space,” said Bodega co-owner Collin Castore. “We stopped working against [it] and started trying to work with it.”

The interior renovations — done by local firm Opal Stackhouse — will be dramatic to any former patrons.

The bar itself has relocated to the left side, and the number of tables has been reduced, creating a much more open feel to a bar that could previously feel pretty cramped when it was full. Adorning the walls is the instantly Instagram-able pop art of NYC artist (and Castore’s college buddy) Chad Gordon, who also did the pictures on the wall when Bodega first opened in 2005.

Behind the bar, you’ll find 47 wooden-handled taps featuring well-curated selections of American craft beers (heavy on Ohio) and Belgians. “We made an amazing draft list that does not need bottle filler and refocused our bottled beers into only Trappist, sour and vintage,” Castore said. Oh, and the “obligatory” PBR and Miller Lite cans, of course.

Bodega is also rolling out a new cocktail list and making a local-centric change to its happy hour, eliminating $2 well drinks in favor of $3 drinks with Watershed liquor.

“I would rather charge a dollar more and have a better product and see our dollars go to [Watershed founders] Greg [Lehman] and Dave [Rigo],” Castore said, adding, “I have never met Mr. Kamchatka or Barton.”

Another big change: Food service has moved to a food-truck-style walk-up window in the back. The pared-down menu features fried chicken and fish, along with salads and sides. “We stopped fighting the kitchen size and the bar size and tried to re-think and refocus on what we do best,” Castore said. “We fit a small delicious menu into a small kitchen.”