The new Hotel LeVeque bar brings the charm of eras gone by to a new generation
At 90 years old, the LeVeque Tower is not only integral to Columbus history, but the structure and its surrounding buildings also have special meaning for natives.
“My mother worked in One Columbus next door,” said Jamie Young, general manager of The Keep bar, which opened in Hotel LeVeque in late March. “And we'd always come [to the Tower] to watch the fireworks up on the 16th floor from the viewing deck.”
Young learned to appreciate the beauty of the architecture from her mom, who has since fallen ill. “This was kind of my payback to her,” Young said of The Keep.
Young views the bar as part of a reinvention of LeVeque Tower, which has recently undergone an extensive renovation. However, The Keep's charm is in its emphasis on the past, from its name — a keep was a structure within castles in the Middle Ages — to its gas lanterns and antiques on the shelves. The “dark, sensual and masculine” atmosphere is also a throwback to the 1960s New York City clubs, said Young, who plays Etta James and Rat Pack radio stations during business hours.
“We have something here for everybody,” Young said. “[If] you want to go to the Palace [Theatre next door] and wear your ball gown, you can do that, or if you want to come downstairs from the hotel wearing your pajamas, we've had that already.”
But unlike the average hotel bar, The Keep offers food and beverages with a wide range of prices. For example, one can order $5 beers or $50 shots of scotch, along with unique cocktails.
“We're really into our ice program here,” Young said, referencing the bitters-infused ice balls in the Old Fashioned and the blood orange rind and crystallized ginger inside the ice balls in the Rat Pack Hooch.
But Young is most excited about the extensive wine list. “People are comfortable with cabernet or merlot and maybe they're a little bit nervous of a Cotes du Rhone or a Bordeaux,” she said. “I've really placed huge importance on making the price point for some of these wines a lot lower. … We want to encourage people to step out of their comfort zone.”
Patrons can also order a variety of small plates, curated by Chef Jonathan Olson, who will head up the adjacent French brasserie restaurant opening in July.
“It's not just gonna be the duck confit and coq au vin,” said Olson, who intends to experiment with Southeast Asian, North African and Creole flavors. “It's all those areas that France really influenced with their cuisine.”
“Everybody goes out to eat or out to drink because they want to have a good time,” Young said. “I just get to facilitate that, and I love it.”
Correction: Chef Olson's name was spelled incorrectly in the original posting. Alive regrets the error.