Aleks Shaulov has been bartending at Ace of Cups since the Old North venue opened in 2011. Previously occupied by a string of wild bars, the place was in ruins, with holes in the walls and even a stripper pole upstairs.

Aleks Shaulov has been bartending at Ace of Cups since the Old North venue opened in 2011. Previously occupied by a string of wild bars, the place was in ruins, with holes in the walls and even a stripper pole upstairs.

"We were on all fours scraping the floors in the basement because there was like an inch [thick] crust of soda syrup," Shaulov said. "It was not easy, but it was fun putting this thing together."

Many renovations took place to achieve the bar's current "interesting" and "eccentric" layout, he said.

The dimly lit space is adorned with plum wall paint and drapes, as well as distinct, black-and-white posters designed by local artist and musician Evan Wolff, who is also in charge of security.

There are also alluring oddities above the bar, such as a small statue of a horseman, based on a painting by Frank Frazetta, and a mobile of bats that owner Marcy Mays put together for Halloween. "That took forever," Shaulov said.

But Ace of Cups is perhaps best known for its high-quality musical entertainment, which has exceeded Shaulov's expectations.

"Before this bar opened, we all thought of it as just like a small show venue, and then all of a sudden we're getting these amazing bands," he said. For him, standout acts include Savages, Zero Boys and Mission of Burma. In 2014, New Zealand indie-rock band the Clean was brought in for Ace of Cups' first outdoor festival, Helter Swelter. It was a crazy day due to electricity problems that forced the headliner to play inside.

"It was a very ambitious project, but now that we know how to do it, it just doesn't feel as intimidating," Shaulov said.

The next Helter Swelter concert takes place Sept. 24 and will feature a rare appearance by indie-rock band Royal Trux.

Shaulov is also a longtime musician. He currently sings and plays guitar in Señor Citizen and the Border Patrol. "I got my citizenship around the time we started," he said.

Originally from the Chechen Republic in Russia, Shaulov moved to Bexley at 14. He had to adjust to a culture of peers who spent more time playing Nintendo than hanging outside. "Kids didn't really care that much about what I cared about," he said.

Following high school, Shaulov worked several years at a call center before gaining an exciting opportunity to tour with his band, the Feelers, behind their project on Dead Beat Records. Afterward, he got a job at Café Bourbon Street before heading to Ace of Cups.

Shaulov isn't sure of his next goal within the bar industry, but he seems content at Ace of Cups.

"I love everything," he said. "I like the way this bar feels."

@miss_ethompson