The managing duo creates a welcoming environment with a vintage twist
Local Bar may be managed by brothers Luke and Isaak Sislowski, but the community takes real ownership of the Short North watering hole. Regulars have been coming in since 2011, eating meals at the bar, lounging on the couches in the back area and challenging each other to games of pool. They've also contributed to the decor.
“We do have a mannequin in the pool room,” Isaak said. “Somebody changes the hat every once in a while, and I don't even know who it is. No one will tell me.”
Patrons also switch out the mask on another mannequin near the entrance, and leave behind costumes from Halloween. They fit right in with the other vintage trimmings, from broken salon chairs and 1970s lamps to a poster of actress Farrah Fawcett and a pay phone booth.
“A lot of people will take pictures,” Isaak said. “They're not even here to drink. They're here to go in the back and do a photo-op.”
The results of those shoots have been captured in photos displayed around the building (the Sislowskis keep a Polaroid camera behind the bar at all times).
“I think the idea is to keep the place community-focused,” Luke said. “This bar is as good as the people who are in here. … So I think that's the goal with those Polaroid pictures. And to keep it a little retro.”
For those who do come to drink, Local Bar provides a variety of craft beer – “We try and keep our beer as eclectic as our clientele,” Isaak said — and liquor, ranging from $1 cans of Genesee to $35 shots of tequila. They've also had the opportunity to travel to facilities in the U.S. and other countries to personally pick out barrels of alcohol.
Customers have also said they come “for the brothers.”
Luke, 28, and Isaak, 24, both got their start working at the now-closed restaurant La Fogata. When the owner, George Tanchevski, opened Local Bar, the Sislowskis followed.
“There's good times and there's bad times, like any sibling relationship,” Luke said of working with his younger brother. “I know a lot of people who don't necessarily have relationships with their siblings, so I think I'm very blessed to be able to still have [him] in my life.”
Luke works more behind the scenes, crunching numbers and creating marketing strategies. Isaak, who can be found singing Tenacious D or Johnny Cash songs at karaoke on Wednesdays, works the crowd.
“He gets them in the door, and then I keep them there,” Isaak said.