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Ducks in a Row

“Retro” is a term overused. Given the cultural zeitgeist and the rapid recycle of style that still feels like only yesterday, the ’90s are now considered “retro.” The same winsome memories are attached with equal aplomb towards Nirvana and NickToons, The Chronic and Cross Colors, “Enter Sandman” and MC Hammer. The lines in the rearview [...]
Kevin J. Elliott



“Retro” is a term overused.

Given the cultural zeitgeist and the rapid recycle of style that still feels like only yesterday, the ’90s are now considered “retro.” The same winsome memories are attached with equal aplomb towards Nirvana and NickToons, The Chronic and Cross Colors, “Enter Sandman” and MC Hammer. The lines in the rearview mirror are blurred.

Troy Allen bends the idea of “retro” at his will. His Rise Brands is in the business of creating experiences. 16-Bit Bar + Arcade has been a demographic bulls eye, tapping directly into an ’80s ephemera that is fondly remembered. The lights, the sounds, the aesthetic of an old-school arcade refined with sleek design and booze—it’s a hyper-nostalgia that conceptually only needs a Joust machine and a good beer to succeed. Just look at the glut of the arcades popping up all over town. But what of an era barely remembered? To wit, there is little reminiscing for a youth spent at the duckpin bowling alley.

Duckpin bowling, though, is at the center of Pins Mechanical Co., the latest Rise concept and 13,000-square-foot adult playground that practically begs for a cell-phone depository before passing through its doors. Add in 40 primed pinball machines, ping-pong, shuffleboard, giant Jenga, foosball, and Pins demands digital capitulation. The downtown space at 141 N Fourth St.—the bones of which were once Columbus’ Yellow Taxi garage—encourages a new social order, in which Instagrammable moments are secondary to friendly competition and analog conversation.

“There’s Punch Bowl Social in Cleveland and there’s even a shuffleboard club in Brooklyn, which is crazy that shuffleboard is trendy,” says Allen of the draw to this project. “We knew we didn’t want to do traditional bowling because you can do that anywhere in Columbus. With the duckpin bowling though, we think it’s homier and the atmosphere here has a more industrial feel to it, and it’s so much more accessible.”

Indeed duckpin bowling has all of the trappings of classic bowling, but without the shoes, the holes, or the learning curve. At Pins, spectators can lounge between the lanes or on vintage couches as players roll strikes without having to set down their drinks. The scoreboards spout witty euphemisms at competitors. You get three rolls, with balls that are slightly larger than a softball, instead of two. Again, it’s nostalgia refined.

It’s the space itself though that steals the show. With steel cages and exposed brick, Pins gives off a vibe that recalls a forgotten Coney Island boardwalk arcade, a gritty pinball palace, and your favorite basement rec-room.

Of course, the accoutrements of a trendy bar are in place, but it’s also flanked by two massive patios that expose more “green space” than concrete. Pins will be a permanent home for the Por’Ketta food truck, with additional room for two more rotating trucks on any given night.

It’s not a place to just stop in for a drink. That thinking is futile, as you’re bound to spend a few hours taking it all in. And as far as keeping such a mechanically dependent operation in working order, where once Allen and Rise have had to farm out work to freelancers, they’ve recently developed their own in-house team of technicians to tend to those dilemmas. The punny refrain that Allen has all of his ducks in a row is an understatement.

“I think we do a really good job of fully immersing people in an experience,” says Allen of the formula. “It’s the music, the games, the visual cues that take you back to when you were a kid—or in my case when I would ride my bike to Dairy Mart to play Kung-Fu Master. We wanted to create something in Columbus that hasn’t been here in quite a while. We don’t need to do a lot of advertising because our customers are our advocates and spread the word about their experience here.”

Whether you regard the concept of Pins Mechanical Co. as unique or simply an amalgamation of childhood memories come to life—Allen even promised tetherball and four-square in the future—there’s no denying that the fun factor involved is on full tilt.

For hours and more information, visit


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Food & Drink

Italian Lebanese hybrid restaurant coming to German Village

Regina Fox



What do you get when you cross Italian food with Lebanese fare? Bistrolino.

The new hybrid restaurant will take over the spot formerly occupied by Harvest Pizzeria at 495 S 4th St. in German Village. A December open date is expected.

Columbus Business First reports Bistrolino is owned by Samer Chedid and Francesco Todisco, who worked together at Aladdin's Eatery. As immigrants, Chedid will bring is Lebanon roots to the concept, while Todisco will contribute his Italian influence.

Todisco told Columbus Business First the menu will be small, offering single-serving baking dishes including zucchini parmesan, braciola, and a Lebanese flatbread called man'oushe.

Keep an eye on Bistrolino's Facebook for updates.

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Food & Drink

Taft’s on Draft: Cinci Brewporium opens first Columbus location in Franklinton

Linda Lee Baird



After hearing all the hype about Cincinnati’s up-and-coming Over the Rhine neighborhood a few years back, I went to see it for myself. The first stop was Taft’s Ale House, a gigantic brewery inside of a church originally built in 1850, fully renovated for guests’ reveling pleasure. After spending the next few hours sampling beverages and snacking on beer cheese pretzels, I was inclined to believe the neighborhood hype. Did I fully explore OTR that night? I don’t actually remember. But I’m certain that I had a great time at Taft’s. So when I found out that Taft’s was coming to Columbus, the news sounded even sweeter than their Maverick Chocolate Porter.

Taft’s Brewpourium Columbus spans nearly 6,000 square feet in the Gravity development, including over 2,000 square feet of patio space. Like the development itself, Taft’s is building an artistic theme into its new offering. “Our actual design is going to be kind of focused on ‘80s/‘90s pop art,” said David Kassling, Managing Partner for Taft’s Brewing Company. “Being that Franklinton definitely has its art roots, we think that’s a great way to ingrain ourself in the community.”

Kassling said that the word brewpourium literally means the place where the brew is poured. That they’ve chosen to make “brewpourium” part of their name tells you everything you need to know about what Taft’s wants to be known for: its carefully crafted suds. The brewpourium will have at least 10 taps serving Taft’s original varieties, including its signature Gavel Banger IPA, which was voted best beer in Cincinnati last March by the city’s residents.

Taft’s will offer a full food menu as well. Kassling is particularly proud to introduce New Haven-style pizza to Columbus. “We’re recreating a style that doesn’t exist anywhere else in Ohio,” he said. (The style is also known as apizza, which is pronounced "a piece," as in, I’d like a piece of that crisp coal-red cheesy goodness right now, please.) Kassling describes it as a cross between New York and Neapolitan style. Taft’s version features our and tomatoes imported from Italy.

Rounding out the menu is another ‘90s-inspired treat, this time in dessert form. Remember Dunkaroos, those cookies that came in a package with icing designed for dipping, perhaps consumed while you watched episodes of Saved By the Bell? Taft’s will serve up Taftaroos, its unique take on the snack.

Kassling plans to use the brewpourium’s large space to offer patrons activities beyond food and drink. The stage will be open for games of darts when not in use for performances. On the floor, guests will find shufflepuck and Killer Queen, an arcade game utilizing 8-bit graphics in line with the old-school theme. Video game fans will also find gaming stations inlaid in the bar, with several retro options to choose from.

With three Cincinnati locations in operation, Kassling is not new to the business. Even so, expanding to Columbus marks a milestone, and one he wasn’t always seeking to meet. “We didn’t necessarily look at this as we needed to expand to a new city or we needed to expand to Columbus,” he said.

But when the opportunity to join the Gravity Project presented itself, Kassling said it proved too good to pass up. “We’re really excited, not only because of the nature of the building being so modern and unique, not just to Columbus, but to anywhere. But also the shape of our space is funky, and that led to different ideas in what we wanted to do with our build out.”

Kassling acknowledged that in coming to Columbus, Taft’s is joining a few of our communities: the community of Franklinton, to be sure, but also the well-established community of independent breweries operating across the city. An installation built into Taft’s countertop will pay homage to this fact, incorporating crushed cans and packaging from breweries like Seventh Son, Land-Grant, and North High. “It’s gonna be totally an art piece,” he said.

Rather than focusing on the potentially competitive aspect of the brewing scene, Kassling emphasized the camaraderie and common goals within the industry. “At the end of the day, craft beer is a great way to bring people together,” he said. “And at the end of the day, we’re all preaching community and good times.”

While Taft’s new location may not be in a church, Kassling’s words are the type of preaching that I can get behind.

Taft’s Brewpourium Columbus is located at 440 W Broad St. in the Gravity project. For more details about Taft’s, visit

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Food & Drink

New “relaxed” wine house now open in Dublin

614now Staff



Next time you're in Dublin, make sure to stop and smell the rosé at the city's newest wine bar. Coast Wine House recently opened at 75 S High St., offering a contemporary wine bar + bottle shop inspired by a blend of the spirit of coastal California and traditional wine country cafés, markets, and bodegas, according to the website.

Coast assures they don't take themselves too seriously "in contrast to the conventional wine world," describes the website.

"The mood is decidedly relaxed. The wine is pleasantly chilled," Coast says.

The wine bar is run by Dustin Snow, who his wife, Molly, believes brings a "warm and relaxed" feel to Coast.

"A visit to our house is by no means fancy, but Dustin makes it special, because he genuinely wants to make you feel at home," she wrote on Instagram. "And since Coast is an extension of our home you will have this same warm and relaxed experience."

Coast is open Wednesday and Thursday from 12pm- 9pm, Friday and Saturday from 12pm- 10pm, and closed Sunday through Tuesday. To learn more visit

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