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Law And Orders: Fledgling bar Lawbird soars high with style

Melinda Green

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The hot pink neon sign by Lawbird’s window reads “NOT GOVERNED BY REASON.” The logo on the menu cheekily warns you to “leave your bullshit at the door.” The space inside is light, bright, and funky, a reflection of owners Annie and Luke Pierce’s home. In fact, everything about the place is a reflection of the Pierces’ taste in drinks, food, and entertaining—and the result, so far, has been a success.

The Pierces opened Lawbird, their first bar, in early November. Instagram is their main mode of communication and the primary way the bar has attracted clientele, although word of mouth has also been a driver, especially among older guests.

”Most nights, you look around and there’s people of all generations, which is really, really cool in this city,” Luke notes.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

“I don’t think there are a ton of bars that get that big of a spread,” Annie adds. “Restaurants, of course. But I don’t think I’ve worked in a bar that draws this broad of a crowd.”

Luke and Annie grew up in the Columbus suburbs and have spent their careers in the restaurant and bar industry. Annie was involved with Bombay Sapphire’s Most Imaginative Bartender competition in London, England for years, and won in 2017—the first woman, and the first bartender from a tertiary market, to take the top honor.

They met six years ago, when Luke was selling wine for a local distributor and Annie was working in a restaurant. They knew they would eventually have a place of their own: Annie always joked, “we’re not switching jobs or industries any time soon, so we might as well be doing it for ourselves.”

After two years of conceptualizing and planning, they describe the final result as a direct reflection of how they like to eat, drink, host, and share. When they talk, it’s clear that even though Lawbird is in its first few weeks of getting off the ground, they already have their eye on the future.

“We have an absolutely phenomenal team working with us, but we knew the first concept had to be executable within our means, on a shoestring budget,” Annie explains. “Then, as we grow, we can tackle more diverse things.”

Lawbird is known for unique wine selections as well as for high-quality cocktails. “We just love wine, the diverseness of it,” Luke said. “It was something we felt Columbus needed as well—there are a lot of tired wine lists, I think, in Columbus.”

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“A lot of wine programs are based around restaurants,” Annie adds. “So it’s things you’ve seen before, and it becomes kind of a closed loop. We wanted to create a space where you didn’t have to eat to enjoy wine. It’s kind of a comfortable, casual space that de-stigmatizes and de-mystifies. Not everything is made to be paired with something.”

The list ranges from easily quaffable reds, to orange wines, to high-acid whites and sake—again, the types that the Pierces enjoy in their everyday life.

“Most of the wines on our list are on the natural spectrum somewhere,” Luke said. “The grapes might be grown organically or biodynamically, some might have natural fining or filtration, some might do native yeast. Not a lot of other places do that around town.”

Annie curates the cocktail list. Rather than laundry-list every single ingredient, the menu highlights main flavors and allergens, then gives a saucy “feels like” descriptor. “We want the cocktails to be drinkable, but quirky and fun. We want to challenge people a little.”

Lawbird also carries a handful of beers, mostly Ohio- brewed. But the Pierces admit they’re not the destination for beer on South High Street, with neighboring establishments already dominating the beer scene.

“One of the most surprising elements coming out of our space is that the food is really, really good,” Annie says. Their favorite snacks and shareables, like soft-cooked eggs with house-made mayo, can be enjoyed singly or combined for a larger, nontraditional, dining experience. The menu is “veg- centric” (but not entirely vegetarian), with both hearty and lean offerings.

Lawbird even has a small retail program, offering select 3-bottle curated wine packages for holidays or everyday. “It’s super fun for us, because it extends our nerdiness,” Annie laughs.

One of the things the Pierces enjoy most is sharing insights, personal knowledge, and favorite products with their guests and staff, as well as educating about things like orange wine.

And their commitment to their team is clear. “Annie and I have made this our profession, and we really want our staff to be able to treat this as a profession as well,” Luke says. “We have staff who are serious about constantly learning.”

“We serve people, not food and drink,” Annie adds.

The sign in the window may suggest otherwise, but the Pierces clearly have left no detail to chance where the success of Lawbird is concerned.

Lawbird is located at 740 S. High St. View menus and learn more at lawbirdbar.com

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Food & Drink

Rye In July

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Rye in July featuring the Algonquin! We teamed up with Brown-Forman, Woodford Reserve, and local bartender Ben Griest from Giuseppe’s Ritrovo for this tasty Rye, perfect for July! Today's Rye is featuring the Algonquin, with notes of spice, tobacco, and fruit balanced throughout this cocktail - it's sure to please!

The Algonquin

**SPONSORED**

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Milestone 229 overcomes 2020 challenges, to reopen soon

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Every industry has taken a hit this year. It’s cliche to generalize it. With that being said, some businesses have taken more damage than others.

Milestone 229, located on the river’s Scioto Mile, was forced to closed in March along with all the other restaurants across Ohio, as the restaurant industry took a hit despite the uptick in carryout orders.

Just as things seemed to be coming back to normal, as restaurants and bars were allowed to reopen, the protests demanding change during the Black Lives Matter movement brought an unexpected rioting component that had devastating effects for Milestone 229.

The downtown, upscale eatery with the playful fountain for kids and adults alike, took an extra hit when rioting, looting, and vandalism broke down the windows of the restaurant on Thursday, May 29. Milestone 229 was supposed to reopen the upcoming Monday.

Photo by Julian Foglietti.

Griggs has tried his best to stay positive through it all, finding some valuable and much-needed help along the way.

“A good friend of the restaurant, Cathy King, executive vice president of Wasserstrom, started a GoFundMe page for Milestone 229. We are using that money to help relaunch the restaurant.  We also had many friends and family come down the morning after the riots to help clean up the broken glass.”

Doug Griggs, co-owner of Milestone 229


Now, recovering once again, Milestone 229 is set to open back up on Wednesday, July 8. The fine-dining establishment will offer patio and dining room seating, as well as a new curbside pickup. Co-owner Doug Griggs said in an email that the restaurant was able to keep the majority of its patio seating and over half of its dining room seating. 

Milestone 229 has a new venue revamped for the summer as well. You can view it here.

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And the winner of the (614) National Ice Cream Month poll is…

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Columbus has been a culinary hotspot for pretty much the entire 21st century. But what if we told you that you, Columbus, were just as obsessed with fine dining as you are with devouring ice cream?

Jeni’s. Whit’s. Greater’s. The list goes on. But out of the everlasting, Willy Wonka-esque fountain of ice cream stores that exist in Columbus, which one is the favorite of (614) readers?

In reverse order, here are the top seven ice cream choices in Columbus!

7. Cream & Sugar – 2185 Sullivant Ave.

6. Velvet Ice Cream – Your favorite grocer

5. United Dairy Farmers – EVERYWHERE

4. Johnson’s Real Ice Cream – 2728 E. Main St.; 55 W. Bridge St., Dublin; 160 W. Main St., New Albany

3. Whit’s Frozen Custard – Find Ohio locations here

2. Jeni’s Ice Cream – Find Columbus locations here

And after 12 rounds, the winner of the (614) ice cream championship belt is…

1. Graeter’s Ice Cream – Find Ohio locations here.

Photo by Julian Foglietti.

And it just so happens that Graeter’s is celebrating its 150th birthday this month! Celebrate in style with them by buying this specialty birthday cake ice cream. In addition to selling the ice cream online and at a Graeter’s near you, you’ll also be able to pick some up at Kroger, Giant Eagle, The Fresh Market, Dorothy Lane Market, or Jungle Jim’s.

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