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Credit: Hannah Herner / Lantern reporter
Credit: Hannah Herner / Lantern reporter

Big Room Bar amps up live music, bar food

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The Big Room Bar calls itself “a bar with a radio problem,” as it shares a building with alternative radio station, CD102.5.

The station moved into the building  at 1036 S. Front St. in the Brewery District about four years ago, and since then has used the upper floor’s stage for live performances from national artists visiting Columbus.

The Big Room Bar opened on CD102.5’s 25th birthday, Aug. 21.

It was roughly a year ago that plans to add a bar to the space were set into motion, said bar manager Mike Rist.

Prior to the station moving in, the building housed the Swiss Chalet social club, so it already had a fully functioning kitchen and bar that just needed a few updates, said kitchen manager Justin Hemminger.

“It was (station president) Randy Malloy’s plan to turn this place into a fully functioning bar/restaurant/rock club. We were already doing Big Room performances in there and his thought was: we’ve already got people in here to watch shows, we could do that literally every day,” Hemminger said.

The bar will offer a range of nightly entertainment options. Starting on Monday, Sept. 14, Frontstage with Tom Butler will be taking place in the bar. It will feature local bands and the first three songs of the set will be broadcast live on CD102.5.

Tuesdays have live karaoke with Parker Paul and, starting in October, Wednesdays will be a comedy night.

On Thursday through Saturday nights, there will be live shows from local, and occasionally national, acts.

The bar offers three menus: breakfast, brunch and late night foods. Beginning at 11 a.m. each day, they serve a range of sandwiches, appetizers, salads and entrees with prices topping out at around $16 for an entree.

Rist said while the bar and the station share a building, the profits from the bar do not go to supporting the station’s finances.

The late night menu is available Thursday through Saturday nights starting at 8 p.m. to coincide with the live shows. It features build-your-own grilled cheese sandwiches, french fries and bratwursts.

Breakfast foods are served Saturday and Sunday 11-4 p.m. for Big Room Brunch as well.

“We try to buy as much locally-produced food as we can, and we’re very committed to the local community here,” Hemminger said.

Each weekday people can take advantage of “The Five Spot” during happy hour from 4 to 8 p.m. For this special, Hemminger chooses five dishes to offer for just $5.

Rist raved about the food.

“I think one of the standouts is the brat dip,” he said. “It’s a twist on sausage and gravy, but it’s made with brats. It’s incredible to put on top of fries, and your burger. It’s amazing.”

As far as adult beverages go, the bar offers specialty cocktails named after local icons and bands who have played at the station, such as The Flaming Lips cocktail made with jalapeño-flavored vodka. They also offer various types of beers, bottled and on tap.

The bar is all ages, but the nighttime weekend shows will be 18 years and older unless otherwise noted.

Patrons should also note that the bar might have to close occasionally for an hour or two to allow a national act to play in the Big Room for CD102.5. Closings will be announced on the bar’s website.

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