When walking through the double doors of the chrome- heavy Arena District rock hangout the Garage Bar, there are many things that will catch your eye – the retro gasoline pumps that have been converted into beer taps, the motorcycle sitting in its place in front of the stage, and the banner that displays the x-rated shot menu. But there’s one thing that’ll probably fly well under the radar, and that’s the very normal looking beer cooler behind the bar, a reminder to all that you really are at home.
Years ago, at the legendary Grog Shop in Cleveland, Jeff Allison, owner of the Garage Bar, was inspired by a similar sticker-covered cooler.
“I was sitting at the bar and looked over at the cooler and realized how many legendary shows that thing has seen,” says Allison. “I looked at it and realized this giant cooler was a garage for beer.”
This idea, combined with Allison’s restaurant and hospitality degree from Purdue and the mixed knowledge he attained from managing and tending bar at every kind of club from New York to Chicago, eventually led Allison to open his first Garage Bar in Cleveland almost five years ago. He then opened in Columbus last September.
“When I was working at a bar in Cleveland, I realized that our two most popular nights were 80s and Rock nights,” says Allison. “That’s what the Garage Bar is all of the time.”
An interesting and friendly guy who had a stint as a lead-off man with the Atlanta Braves farm system before marrying into the state of Ohio, Allison is happy to be where he is in both Columbus and Cleveland.
“I just wanted to open a bar where anyone can have a good time,” says Allison. “Where it doesn’t matter who you are or what you’re wearing. At my bars, it about being yourself.”
For more information go to www.thegaragebar.net