Call it a club, a bar or a restaurant, but none of these descriptions nails the scope of Onyx, part of a 25,000-square-foot Upper Arlington entertainment complex.
An upscale club and lounge open on weekend nights, Onyx shares a spacious patio and heated outdoor bar with Arlington Cafe. Shahriar Kazemi opened Arlington Cafe as a simple neighborhood bar in 1992 and it's since grown to become a hub for sister businesses Cazzie's, Arlington Banquets and, as of last summer, Onyx.
"I seriously don't think there is anything like it in Columbus, between the size, the features [and] the services," Kazemi said.
The dance floor below Onyx's tall ceiling doesn't get stirring till late, but the commotion draws an eclectic mix of rump-shakers sporting heels and wingtips. Two giant projection screens and an array of colored lights beam across the large, open room and its marble and granite bar; it's just a hint of the nearly $600,000 invested in sound and lighting systems.
The club features a VIP area with low-profile seating and flat-screen TVs. While Onyx's setting may be lush, its prices are as low as any of the surrounding bars. Martinis with call liquors start at $5.25 and bombs clock in at $6.50.
Onyx serves light food, but if you're after something heartier or simply more beer options, you'll need to venture a few dozen feet.
Even on a chilly night, Onyx sometimes opens its sliding doors to a patio dotted with a fountain and outdoor fireplace. Heading outside towards Arlington Cafe reveals pool tables, video games, cushy booths and an arsenal of HD televisions.
The bar serves food late into the night and its offerings include entrees like Pan-Seared Tilapia and Spicy Shrimp Pasta ($13) alongside pizzas and sandwiches. Beneath the twinkle of Arlington Cafe's ceiling, the bar reps another DJ, dance floor and selection of Top 40 jams.
If you strike out with every suitor on that dance floor, too, you can shake over to Cazzie's to see if the third bar's the charm. Cazzie's arching ceiling can peep open to the night sky, literally retracting, and when the dance floor is removed from the space it takes on a low-key setting. Acoustic sets are hosted Tuesday and Wednesday, but Monday means karaoke.
While the bars surrounding Onyx cater to varying niches, moving between them feels surprisingly fluid. "People don't get bored," Kazemi said. "They stay in one room for half-an-hour then move on to the next."