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Local Haunts

The Columbus spirit scene is legendary, and not just for the intriguing elixirs your corner bartender conjures. No, there’s a less celebrated set of spirits you don’t always hear about from those behind the taps and bar tops, and they do much more than go bump in the night. Anyone who has ever worked a [...]
J.R. McMillan



The Columbus spirit scene is legendary, and not just for the intriguing elixirs your corner bartender conjures. No, there’s a less celebrated set of spirits you don’t always hear about from those behind the taps and bar tops, and they do much more than go bump in the night.

Anyone who has ever worked a closing shift alone has probably been a little freaked out at least once. Silence invites suspicion, and empty restaurants and bars only amplify it. Whether it’s the creaky floor in the kitchen or fear of the guy you cut off earlier lurking in the parking lot, our imaginations easily get the better of us.

But sometimes, maybe, it’s something more.

Cue Bucky Cutright, preeminent authority on local haunts, the places where we eat, drink, and frequent everyday with strange histories and supernatural happenings seldom spoken.

“I was a bit gloomy in my adolescence, and the stories coworkers would relate about mysterious noises emanating from empty banquet rooms or unexplained shadows and figures encountered in darkened hallways really stuck with me,” Cutright recalled, having worked in restaurants and bars himself since his teens. “After that, it wasn’t too far of a line between being fascinated with the experiences people were telling me about and connecting them with the historical record.”

That macabre convergence of history and mystery, coupled with Cutright’s passion and penchant for storytelling, were the inspiration for Columbus Ghost Tours. From seasonal Spirit Strolls and the more family-friendly Creepy Columbus, by far the most popular is Booze & Boos, a bus tour of our otherworldly underbelly.

“Before I knew it, I was plotting a narrative and a corresponding course through the downtown area, while honing my knowledge of the city’s dark past,” he explained. “Initial tours were just meant for friends. Everywhere we went, people would ask for business cards and want to know how they could sign up. It’s more like the business chose me than the other way around.”

Cutright’s costumed stagecraft and curatorial credibility aren’t ancillary. He confessed he had his own brush with the unexplained about a decade ago in the basement of a certain Short North establishment where employees have reported more ominous encounters, like the sensation of being shoved or having their hair pulled.

“I was sitting in this room after bar close with a friend and we were discussing the building’s hauntings. As we were talking, the fluorescent lights in the corner of the office began to flicker. This, in itself, wasn’t anything out of the ordinary,” he explained. “It was when the flickering began to be accompanied by the sound of something clacking its nails and scratching down the wall that things became unnerving. We were both sitting within a few feet of this sound and could see that the corner was clear of anything that could make such a noise.”

The basement walls were solid stone so the sound wasn’t coming from the other side. But with abandoned drains and old pipes connecting several buildings in the area, Cutright rationalized the sound away as perhaps a rodent that must have become trapped. He even wrote a note for the owner, hoping to help free the poor creature stuck inside—until a closer look revealed otherwise.

“I inspected the corner and discovered it wasn’t a drainage pipe at all, but a support beam that was sealed off at both ends,” he said. “There was no squirrel or mouse in the pipe. The sound of claws scratching down the wall was coming from something else. When I realized this, all my hair stood on end as an eerie sensation overtook me and I quickly fled the basement.”

Cutright isn’t alone in his unease, and the bartenders at Char Bar—often the first stop on the tour—have stories that could scare you sober.

Built near a graveyard that was relocated to Green Lawn Cemetery, unmarked graves and decomposed bodies still turn up periodically amid perpetual Short North construction. Char Bar’s basement seems to be the center of unrest, once a funeral parlor that was on the first floor, later buried below street level when the road was raised to cross over the railroad tracks of the old Union Station. Rumor has it even Lincoln’s remains were there briefly. Following weeks of travel by train after his assassination to let a grieving nation bid farewell, even “Honest Abe” needed a little touch up.

“It was Christmas Eve and I was the only one closing up. I grabbed the padlock out of the cabinet for the back door and the remote for the TV and put them on the end of the bar like I do every night,” explained Zack Price. “Earlier in the evening, a few people asked me about the strange experiences some customers have had in the basement.”

Price gets those questions a lot, but was always a polite skeptic—before that night. While checking the bathrooms downstairs he felt a rush of air as he passed the dilapidated antique piano, like someone breathing into his ear. He chalked it up as only in his head, but when he got to the top of the stairs, the lock and the remote were gone.

“I know I put them on the bar. But after checking to make sure no one else was there, I found the lock back in the cabinet, and the remote on the counter,” he said. “I locked up fast and got out of there.”

Bartender Erin McIntyre’s experience was directly with the piano, which some say they still hear playing upstairs, even when no one is in the basement.

“As I was coming out of the restroom, the piano made a huge noise and seemed to move away from the wall a little,” she recalled. “I ran up the stairs and after a few minutes talked myself into going back down, even though I was alone. I’d only seen it move out of the corner of my eye, so I dismissed it and didn’t tell anyone.”

The next night, two terrified patrons, in separate incidents, also came running up the stairs swearing they too had seen the piano move away from the wall. The bartender on duty credited the spirits—not “the spirits”—until McIntyre arrived and shared her similar tale from the previous evening.

“There were three of us, who didn’t know each other, and we all saw the same thing,” McIntyre said emphatically. “At this point, the piano was a few feet away from the wall, and it took five people to move it back. That’s not anyone’s imagination.” 

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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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