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Downtime. Upcycled.

I’m a relatively tough broad who picks up bugs and snakes with my hands, shoots guns, and curses like a sailor. (I’d put “Sorry, Mom” here, but guess where I learned it…) But I’m also a smart cookie. So when I was tasked with meeting two strange men for an interview at an abandoned warehouse [...]
Jeni Ruisch



I’m a relatively tough broad who picks up bugs and snakes with my hands, shoots guns, and curses like a sailor. (I’d put “Sorry, Mom” here, but guess where I learned it…) But I’m also a smart cookie. So when I was tasked with meeting two strange men for an interview at an abandoned warehouse on the south side, I decided to bring backup. My bodyguard for the evening/the love of my life is a blue-collar strong man, built in a way that I wouldn’t hedge my bet were he set to arm wrestle a black bear. So I felt snug as a bug parking in an empty gravel lot in a seemingly desolate south side industrial complex. We approached the building in time for my evening interview and were greeted with literal open arms by two mustachioed men in vintage ball caps, one wearing a smoking jacket. They welcome’d and come-on-in’d us and proceeded into the ancient building. As we entered into a dark maze of doorways, I glanced back at my fiance/strong man. In his Virginia accent, shoulders sprinkled with sawdust from work, he beamed. “This place is awesome!”

Matthew Barnes and Jared Gibbons are Ohio kids all grown up. Raised in cousins’ basements with grandpa’s bar signs and Transformers cartoons, their aesthetic/background lies somewhere between the bourgeois creative scene of the capital city, and a wood-paneled sunken living room from 1990. Somehow, they’ve found a way to bring that pedigree into the present, with a curated collection of estate sale finds, and a keen eye for pop culture and design.

Now, they want you to join them in their space for a beer and conversation.

But this isn’t just any bar.

This is Leisure Club, a private club concept more Moose than Grey Goose.

zleisure Club

Photo by Brian Kaiser

















Here’s how it works: Members pay $25 a month, and for this, they get an array of perks. You can come by Leisure Club’s meticulously decorated space and chill on a leather couch while their top-shelf VHS collection plays on an old school TV/VCR combo. You can bring your own beer or other beverages, or choose from the well-stocked ’50s vintage ice box that stands in the corner, unlikely to be moved again, as it weighs around 600 pounds.

A full sized basketball hoop is hung above a doorway. Huge windows run from knee-height to the ceiling, and the walls are covered with swag from decades past. Each of the three main rooms has its own curated vibe. The first is “The Classroom.” Tiny chairs circle around a desk, and an old goose necked projector perches on the windowsill. This is the room where Leisure Club will hold private musical performances, and possible gatherings like yoga classes and the like. The center room is hued in sepia, black and brown. They call this one “Eagle’s Landing.” It sports a portrait of Elvis clad in full cowboy gear, and is an ode to early Americana. The innermost room is called “Half Dome,” due to the double presence of painted landscapes feature the geologic occurrence. This room is clad in a more recent decade of throwbacks. An honest-to-goodness Farrah Fawcett latch hook rug is hung from the wall (who would ever put her beautiful face on the floor is beyond me.) Antique shelves sport everything from toy dinosaurs to old baseballs and other tchotchkes. Everything is old, everything is sturdy, and everything reminds you of a flashbulb memory from your childhood if you grew up in the midwest in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s.

But the privileges of membership don’t end there.

The entire idea behind Leisure Club is one of curation. In a world where going out with friends is always a compromise, Gibbons and Barnes want their members to know they are coming to a place where they can experience a worry-free chill sesh. The clientele will be friends of friends, and the crowd size will be controlled, as the owners will cap membership to avoid crowding. Members and their guests can rest easy knowing they are in a familiar space, the door has an attendant, and that bad behavior won’t be tolerated. This means you can count on the coolness of the crowd, unlike a public bar where anything can happen. The guests of the evening can play their own music, bring their own food, and have a space where they can develop relationship with the other patrons, knowing they may cross paths again. How many bars let you pick the playlist and the VHS of the evening? None. That’s how many.

Leisure Club Columbus

The Classroom at the Leisure Club. Photo by Brian Kaiser


















The only modern outcropping in the space will be a 70-inch TV where the LC crew hope to play games that clients can gather around. With a private space at their disposal, the sky’s the limit on the types of gatherings that can be held in there. They envision concerts with beers, birthdays with cakes, and football parties with a full spread of game day food. Bring your own decorations and cocktail ingredients, if you want. In a private club, guests make the rules and set the stage for whatever they can dream up. Just outside the windows, there is plenty of space for food trucks and vendors, where they hope to host low-pressure retail-chill events, so local makers can get in on the relaxed atmosphere. Hell, there’s already a closet full of vintage tees from Clothing Underground for sale that I perused greedily. Don’t touch that Star Trek one, though. I got dibs on it.

And what a stage it is, located inside an old industrial building being repurposed for commercial use, Leisure Club shares space with a few cool neighbors, and a lot of possibility. A huge brick building with a compound and complex running along railroad tracks, this space is destined to become to the south side what 400 West Rich became for East Franklinton. A hub of creative growth, and the site of gathering and celebrations. Leisure Club is intended to be a communal space, with no dress code, and a maximalist look designed to spark nostalgia and comfort. This is the opposite of white subway tiled bedecked, steel piped, twee houseplant dotted cafe and bar decor of the last several years. Those look sterile compared to this, which is fitting, as Barnes and Gibbons are bringing life to a place where manufacturing is dying. They are reappropriating the spirit of the place by re-creating the collective past within it. Bringing a leisure-focused pastime place into what was a labor focused atmosphere.

Leisure Club has gotten into this building at the ground floor, so to speak. Time will tell what the rest of the area will host. For now, Barnes and Gibbons can provide one thing for sure: A customizable gathering space with no shortage of personality, looking out onto the city skyline. A spot where everybody knows your name.

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Clintonville shop earns “America’s Best” award

614now Staff



Clintonville's Johnny Velo Bikes has been named one of the top bike shops in the nation according to an industry source.

Johnny Velo Bikes has received an America’s Best Bike Shop award from the National Bike Dealers Association (NBDA). The shop is among only six in Ohio to earn the distinction.

“It's an honor to be recognized as one of the best bike shops out of more 4,000 shops in the country," owner John Robinson said in a statement. "We've only been in business for two years, but we've worked very hard to create a professional and friendly atmosphere for our customers."

The NBDA's America's Best Bike Shops program identifies and rewards bicycle stores in North America against the highest performance standards in the industry. The awards are issued based on an application and secret shopper process, with shops scored on layout and design, staff and management, training, marketing, and community involvement.

Contact John Robinson at 614-333-0012 or [email protected] for all your bike-related needs. For details on the shop, visit

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Arts & Culture

Maker’s Space: Kato Mitchell




Following an initial disastrous experience with attempting to refurbish a personal pair of sneakers with acrylic paint years ago, a friend noticed Mitchell’s persistence, aiding him to perfect his craft. Though he began with primarily focusing on restoring his friends’ worn-down sneakers, Mitchell’s business, Work The Custom, has expanded to designing apparel in any range.

Just months after being highlighted as cleat designer for Braxton Miller’s Charg1ng summer football camp in Dayton, Mitchell’s clientele has accrued some big names in the sports world, and he has no intention of stopping. (614) caught up with Mitchell to learn more about Work The Custom, and his hope for reconstructing apparel in Columbus and beyond.

(614): When did you decide to transition from football to design?
KM: I’ve always had a passion for drawing and art, [but] I just lost my vision when I took actual art classes and didn’t like what we were doing. After college, I didn’t get any NFL calls, [and] I was trying to figure out what else I would love to do every day, and fell back in love with art.

What was your leap from “this thing I do” to the thing to do? How do you promote your work? After I realized how many people wanted to show who they really are with art, and I was someone who could help do that, that was my ironing point. I promote my work through Instagram and Facebook for the most part, but I do go to sneaker events from time-to-time to pass out business cards.

Is this your primary gig, side gig or hobby? How did it come to be?
It’s my side gig for the moment, but trying to grow and learn to make it my full-time career. I had a pair of shoes that were beat up and didn’t want to buy more so I painted them, but one of my friends taught me the game and how to prosper from it.

What life changes do you feel have propelled your work? How have your customizations evolved? Playing football for a place like Ohio State and doing work for Buckeyes in the NFL and for the OSU football team has helped grow my work faster and further. My customs have evolved just by me growing up and seeing different things, learning different things, practicing everyday, and being able to adapt.

Do you have a specific audience that you want to appeal to?
I want my work to be for everyone. My work can range from baby shoes to youth high school players of all sports, to walls of homeowners and businesses, to shoes for pro athletes.

What ingredients come together to make Columbus a fertile ground for makers, designers and creatives? Columbus is a growing market and very friendly. It has new businesses starting every week and everyone is trying to help everyone else.

What’s your six-word creative story?

Work The Custom is coming fast!

To get in contact with Mitchell, or to see more designs, follow him on Instagram at @katowork19.

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Twitter Reacts: Bucks score #1 spot in first official playoff rankings

Mike Thomas



The first official rankings for the 2019 College Football Playoff were announced yesterday, and the Buckeyes have landed at the top of the pile. The ranking marks the first time the Buckeyes have held the #1 spot since the inception of the playoff system.

Needless to say, social media is abuzz with reactions to this historic moment for Ryan Day's squad. Enjoy this roundup of reactions to the announcement from around Twitterverse, and Go Bucks!
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