Bar profile: Oddfellows brings quirk back to Short North

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From the August 14, 2014 edition

At Oddfellows Liquor Bar, consider “odd” both a moniker and a promise.

After three years of zoning problems and paperwork, the kitsch-covered saloon officially opened earlier this month. Owners Mikey Sorboro (of Mikey’s Late Night Slice), Bryce Ungerott and Dylan Wayman hope Oddfellows Liquor Bar brings a little low-brow quirk back to the Short North.

“The goal is for [Oddfellows Liquor Bar] to be the destination dive you absolutely have to go to in Columbus. I want this to be the first stop when people have friends visit from out of town,” Sorboro said. “There are a lot of nice places to eat and drink in Columbus, but they all look the same — I want this place to be dazzling.”

Nearly everything in the space was custom-made or hand-picked by Sorboro and company. A beat-up road sign from Nashville mounted by the entryway greets customers, and a Great White shark’s head juts out from a wall behind the bar. The walls are populated with a hodge-podge of vintage photographs and ornate frames, and beer is stored in a 1940s bottle cooler that resembles an upright iron lung. Whether you take a seat at one of the hand-made tables, or belly-up to the 35-feet-long bar, everything in Oddfellows Liquor Bar has a story.

"[The decor] is an amalgam of my favorite things. You can see my personality all over this place," Sorboro said. "You can't build a dive overnight, but we certainly tried our best.”

The kitsch carries over into the bar program. In addition to the 16 draft beers and standard bar stalwarts, Oddfellows offers a (dangerously) delicious Negroni Slush, and serves Miller High Life in champagne flutes.

“We have a good beer selection, and we can make a great cocktail, but people still want to drink Fireball [Whisky], too. If [Bodega and Mouton] had a baby, and then pissed on it… that’d be Oddfellows,” Sorboro said.

Oddfellows keeps the menu simple, offering no-frills shareables like pickled deviled eggs, housemade cheese dips and bacon brittle. Sorboro plans to offer a “hair-of-the-dog”-style brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as host food pop-up shops and food truck events in the near future.

For now, Sorboro is just happy to be open.

"Opening this place put us through the wringer,” Sorboro said. “But it wouldn't be as good of a bar if we had opened six months ago.”

Photo by Meghan Ralston