If all goes according to plan, Westerville residents soon will see the marquee lit above 8 N. State St. once again.
Stan Riley, owner of Barrel & Boar -- a made-from-scratch barbecue restaurant and craft-beer and cocktail bar -- plans to open his fourth location in the historic 8 N. State St. building in Westerville.
He said the lease for the building is “all done” and was hinging only on the successful passage of the site’s liquor options, which appeared as Issue 28A and Issue 28B on the Nov. 7 election ballot.
Both measures were approved.
The weekday sales option passed by a vote of 251 to 45, or 85 to 15 percent. The Sunday sales option passed by a vote of 235 to 62, or 79 to 21 percent, according to unofficial results from the county elections board Nov. 7.
Barrel & Boar’s existing locations are in Gahanna, Newark and Columbus’ North Market.
Riley, who grew up in Westerville and recently moved back into town, said the building fits his concept perfectly.
“When I look for locations for Barrel & Boar, I look for existing facilities that can be flipped into something similar to my concept,” he said. “8 State Street really looks very similar to the places I already have. … It’s almost like it was built for our brand.”
Before agreeing to lease the site, he said, he walked up and down State Street in Uptown and thought, “This place is amazing.”
He said Barrel & Boar looks for “places that are important to the community,” and the site fit the bill.
“I think Uptown Westerville is incredible,” he said. “The city has done a great job. When I grew up there, it was still dry and there was no Polaris or Maxtown Road. … So it’s a different world there now. I saw the location was available and I knew I was very interested in it.”
The site has been vacant since 8 State Bistro closed its doors in May.
Riley said he isn’t worried about the viability of the site.
“The bistro wasn’t failing, in my opinion,” he said. “I saw some history and the revenue was good. I don’t think 8 State Bistro failed because it didn’t have customers. I think there’s some other stuff involved in the business behind the scenes. The operator got upside down before he opened, and he never really recovered, and I think everybody knew that.”
Riley said he believes his restaurant is more catered to what Westerville residents -- and suburban people in general -- are interested in.
“We can offer a casual, affordable concept,” he said. “I grew up in Westerville and understand the community very well. When you’re in Westerville or even Gahanna and these suburbs and you go out for dinner, if you have $100 to spend on two of you for dinner, you’re probably going downtown or Polaris or Easton. I’m not sure fine dining is the best fit in these small community downtown areas.”
The timetable for Riley is fairly quick, he said.
He said he’d love to be able to start hosting private events by the end of December and maybe even be ready for regular customers by January.
He said Campbell and 8 State Bistro “gutted the place” and then “put a lot of money into it,” which means there isn’t much work left for him to do. He said he also loves the theater concept, and doesn’t plan on making wholesale changes.
“I have no interest in converting it out of what it is,” he said. “I think it’s beautiful.”
He said he doesn’t plan to change the site’s historic marquee either, other than adding Barrel & Boar and maybe some of the live bands the restaurant will bring in.
He called the marquee “gorgeous” and “the best sign in the city.”
“I love the marquee,” he said. “I have no interest in making any change that would take away from it.”