After residing on High Street for 14 years, Ugly Tuna Saloona will be leaving Gateway following senior crawl on May 1.
One of your favorite campus dives will be put to rest this week.
Between the cheap beers to the inexpensive wells liquor, Ugly Tuna was that perfect in between place for getting a little too drunk, breaking out your worst dance moves on the dance floor, or just finding a spot on the balcony to catch up with friends.
But after 14 years of business and providing a place for cheap drinks for college students, John Votino, owner of Ugly Tuna Saloona, was notified by Gateway that his establishment must close its doors after Senior Crawl on May 1.
“It’s been a good run,” Votino said. “When [CampusPartners] took over the management about six months ago, they said they weren’t going to renew the lease and that they were going in a different direction.”
And that’s pretty much how it went for Votino and Ugly Tuna. There were negotiations on both ends, but ultimately, the two groups just weren’t able to find an agreement.
“It was very good, it just didn’t work out, unfortunately,” Votino explained.
Currently, Votino has heard through the rumor mill that the current Ugly Tuna space will be transformed into some sort of office space for Ohio State. On the flip side for Votino and Ugly Tuna, he’s busy trying to find a new location to set up shop and get Ugly Hour back up and running by the end of the next football season.
“I have a letter of intent on a property that was delivered to me, but we are still looking at three other locations,” Votino said. “Tuna has to be a unique environment—small, not too large—and bring back the food concept of it.”
Tuesday marks the last day of Ugly Tuna for the time being, but Votino looks at the work he’s accomplished as a good run with more gas in the tank for more years of success in the bar industry. Tuesday also marks senior crawl at Ohio State, and for his daughter, Caitlyn, a senior at Ohio State, the last day also marks her last days at Ohio State.
“We’ve been there for 14 years. My son started there as a bar back when he was a freshman at Ohio State and we are going to end it with my daughter graduating on senior crawl,” Votino explained. “I did ask for an extension so they’d let me stay through senior crawl because they wanted us to close a little earlier—about a week earlier. I just told them it’s a tradition with the Votino family. My daughter [Caitlyn] graduates and it’s kind of a poetic justice thing.”
By Mitch Hooper