Walk into Cafe Bourbon Street these days and you'll find the familiar dim lighting, smudged checkered floor and tattered leather stools. There are also the corn husks and fake spiders that owner Dave Fricke left up from Halloween because the décor just works.
Walk into Café Bourbon Street these days and you'll find the familiar dim lighting, smudged checkered floor and tattered leather stools. There are also the corn husks and fake spiders that owner Dave Fricke left up from Halloween because the décor just works. But in this setting, you can now order a $3 fresh-juice margarita during happy hour (4-7 p.m. Monday through Friday), thanks to former bartender Chris Griffith.
"We squeeze or purée all our sour mix," said Griffith, whom Fricke brought on board last February to start the happy hour. However, there is an unconventional twist in the drinks, which are available in flavors such as blueberry, pineapple, cherry and peach: Whiskey is substituted for tequila.
"There are a lot of people that don't like tequila or are afraid of tequila or have issues with tequila," Griffith said. "It's not a traditional margarita by any stretch of the imagination, but it's something that we can do different here."
Although Griffith moved to Colorado in mid-November to be closer to his girlfriend, the special cocktails will live on. He left his recipes with the staff.
"It's a closely guarded secret," Fricke said.
Griffith is not new to the Centennial State; he was born in Fort Collins. "I did everything wrong you could possibly do," he said of his youth, describing himself as "hell on wheels." He lived on his own from age 14, and entered the restaurant business as a dishwasher. He quickly moved up to cook and was running the Rainbow restaurant at 17 years old. He later graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York.
From there, Griffith worked as a meat buyer and store manager for natural food chains like Wild Oats and Earth Fare. Citing his travels to different stores and general trips, he boasted he has spent time in every state in the U.S. Yes, that includes Hawaii, where he worked for Whole Foods, and Alaska, where he spent a summer fishing on his uncle Kink's boat.
He moved to Columbus after helping to open the Lucky's Market on High Street. Tired of the "corporate world," he worked at the now-closed Bernies Bagels & Deli before taking the job at Café Bourbon Street.
"I'm definitely sad to leave," Griffith said as he recalled memorable shows by bands like the "history-making" Scrawl and the Rusty Pieces.
He looks forward to the growth of the happy hour, which stands out "because of the drinks we serve, the [Pierogi Mountain] pierogis [and] the community that it brings in," he said.
As for his next venture once he settles in Colorado, Griffith is exploring his options. "Who knows, maybe [I'll] find a cool, funky little bar that wants to hire a grumpy old man," he said.