Arbitrary signs and the muffled beacon of rock ‘n’ roll music are the only hints that within a building tucked in an alley off Chambers Road, The Tree Bar is back and Columbus is ready.
“It’s like a speakeasy,” said the new owner Ryan Haye of the bar’s hidden atmosphere.
Haye, CD101 advertising salesman and Ohio State alumnus, helped The Tree Bar open its doors again in late December.
Previously, the bar was most remembered by the name Andyman’s Treehouse under the ownership of Quinn Fallon, local band member of X-Rated Cowboys, and Andy “Andyman” Davis, CD101 DJ, who passed away in 2010.
After the bar closed in August, Haye said he wanted to revive the music hot spot.
“The reason I wanted to do it is because I’m in love with the Columbus music scene,” Haye said. “I play music in a band here in town, I’ve been a part of it since I moved to Columbus back in ‘93, I’ve been going to see local music, and I think it’s a staple. I think the place has a lot to offer and we need more places like this, not less.”
Haye said a lot of the old staff has come back. Fallon will be bartending on Fridays with Joe Peppercorn, previously an acting bar manager, and Kyle Sowash, former bartender, has returned to do booking.
“I’m happy it’s up and running again,” Fallon said. “When we took it, (it) was an absolute toilet, and before that, it was the Hidden Cove and went through five owners in five years. It’s nice to see the place where Andyman and I put downs roots is now thriving and in good hands.”
Along with the local music legacy that came with the bar, Haye was faced with the huge undertaking of fixing the place up.
“Just imagine the moldiest, darkest, smelliest place,” Haye said. “By the time I came in here it had sat vacant for a month, it wasn’t a pretty sight. It was a cross between ‘Sanford and Son’ and ‘Lord of the Flies’ in here, so it was pretty nasty.”
Along with other maintenance issues, the bar had a silver oak growing in through the middle of it and out the roof, which has been an icon but a difficult situation for Haye. He inevitably had to have the tree taken out, but left the stump where he plans to mount a plaque in honor of Davis.
“The tree was dead, and anyone who’s been there recently has seen that,” Rachael Gordon, CD101 DJ, said. “People have been pouring their beer on the poor thing for years, and losing the tree isn’t entirely bad. The sight lines for shows are so much better.”
Gordon said the regulars, cheap drinks and good conversation are her favorite things about the bar, along with a slew of Columbus’ most known bands that played some of their first shows at the bar. The Tree Bar is an “asset to the music scene” and he is glad to see it back, Gordon added.
Most recently, acts like The Smoking Guns, Yellow Light Maybe and Dag Nammits have been playing tunes at The Tree Bar. Haye said the place is like a “locker room for musicians,” where they can come to The Tree Bar and get things off their chest, and that’s where it will stay.
“I hope there’s a lot of bands out there that eventually go out and do whatever they want to do (regionally), locally or nationally, that will sit around and say, ‘Remember one of our first shows we played at The Tree Bar? That was fun,'” Haye said. “That’s what I’m looking for. I want to treat the bands well and I want to treat the customers well when they come in here.”