The co-owner reflects on the campus bar with the grown-up crowd
Scott McCrary built a successful 14-year career in retail, working his way up to an executive position at Guess. Then, in 2008, the financial crisis hit.
“There wasn't much opportunity,” said McCrary, who had been commuting from his home in Toledo to his office in Detroit. “My brothers owned Hangover Easy and opened [Village Idiot] and asked me to come down and get in the family business.”
That family consists of Joe, Nick, Tony and John Pedro. “I'm the adopted one,” McCrary said, explaining that he met the boys back in grade school in Toledo.
“My mom had to work all the time,” McCrary continued. “Their mother … started babysitting me at 5 years old and I never left the family.”
McCrary now handles operations for all of the Pedros' businesses: both Hangover Easy locations in Columbus and Cincinnati, Dive Bar in Cincinnati and Village Idiot, which he says has progressed significantly since opening in 2010.
“We thought we were going to be a campus bar,” McCrary said of the establishment, located at North High Street and Eighth Avenue. “Within a year we realized … we get a lot more young professionals and neighborhood traffic.”
They traded in the beer signs on the walls and graffiti on the floor for a sleek, black-and-gray interior. It's a laid-back atmosphere, but the bar is busy on weekends and insane whenever the Ohio State football team plays Michigan in Columbus.
“You can't move and you're selling more beer than you could imagine,” McCrary said. “My son knows … it's going to be a good Christmas [when that happens].”
McCrary worked hard to build a rapport with customers when he worked behind the bar for the first five years. “That was one of the things that helped this business grow so much,” he said. “There used to be a time when I would walk in if the place was full [and] I would literally make my way to every single table because I knew everybody.”
In recent times, McCrary's extended duties have prevented him from coming in each day, though he lives just upstairs in one of the apartments, which he also manages.
The bar is self-sufficient, he said, though there are plans to remodel the patio next spring. “We [also] want to put some more permanent art up on the wall. But, other than that, everything will stay as is.”
“Beer and liquor is no different than T-shirts and jeans,” he added, reflecting on his career in retail, which taught him how to run a business properly. But he admits Village Idiot's success didn't come easily, especially in the beginning when they couldn't even afford payroll. “It was a really small business. I had to put [in] blood, sweat and tears to keep this place moving,” he said.