Kevin Burns, Krista Sparks and Brad Hobbs soon will open a classic pub in the neighborhood.
Krista Sparks, her fiance Brad Hobbs and business partner Kevin Burns knew they had the right area, they just didn't know if they could find the right space.
They passed by one vacant storefront hundreds of times, wondering if it would work for their concept, the Tavern – a neighborhood pub with inexpensive homemade fare and a solid variety of microbrews on tap and in the bottle.
"We always drove by and said, 'Why isn't something there?' " Sparks said.
"Something should be there. It's the center of the neighborhood."
To those familiar with Olde Towne East, an emerging community just east of Downtown, the center of the neighborhood is at the intersection of Oak and 18th streets, where Yellow Brick Pizza and the Angry Baker currently reside.
More than a year ago, Sparks, Hobbs and Burns – all residents of the area – flung the doors open on the building at 889 Oak St. Inside, it was pretty rough, but had lots of potential, they said.
Today the 1,400-square-foot space has been transformed into the Tavern, which is set to open in the next few weeks.
The build-out started about a year ago but, as restaurant construction often goes, there were many delays.
Excitement eventually began to build and people started stopping by after a few premature announcements were made about a May 1 opening date.
Hobbs said the storefront had infinite charm – original tin ceiling patterns and exposed brick along the narrow corridor.
They installed a wooden floor, built a bar with a thickly lacquered top and used minimalistic design standards for the space, which seats 47.
"We wanted the place to look like it's always been here," Hobbs said.
A 32-seat patio is located to the rear of the building.
The bill of fare includes many bar favorites, such as chicken wings, sandwiches and salads.
Yet, they're putting a premium on many ingredients, such as hormone-free chicken and pork.
Pizzas will be fresh and locally made by the Pizza Pi Co., which will provide the dough and pizza sauce.
Toppings will be added at the Tavern. There will be some vegetarian options, such as the beet sliders, topped with red onion and green goddess dressing.
Most items are $7 to $12. The place also will feature several nightly specials.
The Tavern will have 20 taps, offering all the popular craft-brew brands, such as Columbus Brewing Co., Elevator, Magic Hat, Harpoon and such.
Burns said they will try not to duplicate the beers offered by Yellow Brick, which also has 20 brews on tap.
The partners say they are confident in the strength of the Olde Towne market, as evidence by the opening of newcomers Yellow Brick, Angry Baker and L'Appat Patisserie and Cafe, as well as long-established businesses such as Black Creek Bistro.
"It's not even a question," Hobbs said. "Maybe to an outsider it's a question but not to people who have lived for five years or more. We've seen it change."
The plan is to be open for lunch, dinner and late-night hours daily. Check facebook.com/TavernOldeTowne for updates or call 614-252-2599.
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Old Bag of Nails will replace Lost Shepherd in Powell.
Mike Purdum, who owns the local restaurant chain, said he will take over the vacant site by the end of June.
"It's a great spot," Purdum said. "It's a great community."
Lost Shepherd, 345 W. Olentangy St., was closed by the Delaware Board of Health in December.
It reopened shortly afterward but closed permanently at the end of April.
Purdum said he will work closely with health officials to address any concerns.
He said he isn't sure if he'll keep any of the menu items but will expand the craft beer selection.