Bar profile: The Oxley Tavern and Grillery

From the July 31, 2014 edition

When co-owners Martin Lamp and Chip Franz of The Oxley Tavern and Grillery moved into the South Campus Gateway, a wrecking ball came with them.

After a serious face-lift to the former Kildare’s, Lamp and Franz have turned the defunct Irish pub into a Buckeye home-base, offering campus-friendly food and drinks as well as live entertainment. According to Lamp, this is why The Oxley Tavern and Grillery is the latest and last tenant at 1576 N. High St.

"We are local, and take a hands-on approach," Lamp said. "The key to success in Columbus and elsewhere is being involved on a daily basis and adapting to the customers, not waiting for a quarterly report. It’s Campus — you've got to market to the people around you."

The Oxley trades the dimly lit "pub feel" of Kildare’s for a sports bar with large-scale Ohio State prints lining the walls and chalkboard paint coating the tables. The sprawling two-story building boasts a patio, balcony, live performance stage and more than a dozen large, flat-screen TVs.

“[The space] is substantially different-looking than it was before,” Lamp said. “We wanted to brighten the place as much as possible and make it a fun place for people to catch a game.”

The menu offers basic pub fare like burgers, salads and wings — all priced under a campus-friendly $10. The crown jewel is the “Big Ox,” a large build-your-own sandwich, which patrons can wash down with a rotating cast of craft and local draft brews.

The entertainment calendar currently centers on live-band karaoke on Friday nights, but according to Lamp, it won’t be that sparse for long.

“There isn't really a place to see live bands on this side of campus. In the near future, we will be adding live bands, DJs and an open-mic night,” Lamp said. “Once football season starts, it’s going to be like night and day.”

Even with Lamp’s 20 years of experience in the restaurant and bar industry, (his family is the force behind Bernard’s Tavern) he still believes success hinges on the ability to adapt.

“As a business you always have to be evolving,” Lamp said. “We are throwing a party for [our patrons] every night of the week. We are going to listen to what they want.”

Photo by Meghan Ralston