This is a guest post by Sarah Storer. Sarah, aka The Naked Redhead, was lucky that her teetotalling early ways (she didn’t try alcohol until the age of 22) didn’t mean that she would sink into piss-water beer and bad cocktails. (It also helped that an ex was a budding beer enthusiast.) She likes her gin juniper-y, her beers hoppy and her bartenders meaty. Read about her musings on life, love and relationships on thenakedredhead.com.
The first time you walk into BBR in the Arena District, you may think that the bouncer has forgotten his place and has decided to start slinging drinks. You approach the bar with hesitation, hoping that his biceps aren’t an indication that he’s spent more time doing physical, rather than mental, heavy lifting.
But it takes no time at all before you’re disarmed by Grant Dziak’s mega-watt smile. And then you find yourself cracking up at his witty turns of phrase while he serves drinks and food to perfection, and remembers your name.
BBR is no Cheers, but it’s a welcome respite from the usual Arena District bar scene. I was pleasantly surprised on my second visit to realize that my meaty bartender/bar manager not only recognized me but remembered my drink order. So, of course, when Kelly Laine told me she might need a pinch hitter to help her out with the latest bartender crush, I was happy to oblige… because I was definitely crushin’ already.
Age: 25 (soon-to-be 26)
Years Behind Bar: 1.5
Neighborhood: Italian Village
Beverage/Band: Maker’s and Ginger/Kings of Leon
The Naked Redhead: What’s your specialty drink in the year and a half you’ve been bartending?
Grant Dziak: I dunno! Whatever gets you drunk! Whatever you’re in the mood for… whatever puts a smile on your face.
TNR: Aw, that’s so nice! What’s your favorite part about your job?
GD: Working with people every day. I love working with people. I meet people all the time, people like you and your friends. And you never have to have an ice-breaker because everyone is already drunk. I’m sober, and no one’s uptight.
TNR: What’s your favorite bar in the city? Do you go to bars when you’re not working?
GD: I like Zeno’s and Harrisons. And Press Grill.
TNR: OK, you’re listing good ones, I’m not going to judge you for that. So BBR is the new kid on the block. What five words best describe BBR?
GD: I dunno! I dunno how you can really describe it in words. I’d have to say that we’re different. We’re not like any other bars down here [in the Arena District]. We’re a combination of all the best parts of the bars down here. We’ve got a patio, upscale food, different music.
TNR: That was most decidedly more than five words.
GD: I know! I can’t put it into five words!
TNR: I like that it’s not garish.
TNR: You know, it’s not a gross, in-your-face sports bar. Like you have sports stuff up, but it’s all black and white. Nothing is in your face.
GD: Yeah, one of my friends was like, “I don’t get it, you have sports on the TV, you have rock music playing, you have upscale food, you have a clean bar, and you have bottle service, and you have servers who wear jean shorts.” And I’m like, who doesn’t it appeal to? And the big thing is it’s clean. Most of the bars down here aren’t clean.
TNR: It’s also so laid back.
GD: You can come here on a first date, or wear jeans and a t-shirt. We don’t cater to college kids. I’m not gonna lie, our prices are higher, but at the same time, it keeps bringing back the right clientele.
TNR: Absolutely. So, if you weren’t bartending, you’d be…
TNR: Any place in particular?
GD: I’d love to go Europe.
TNR: And your favorite part about Columbus is…
GD: It’s a big city with a small town vibe. You have everything you want here.
TNR: Agreed. What is the grossest thing you’ve ever seen while bartending?
GD: People throwing up on the bar is pretty nasty. I did watch a guy shit in a trashcan once.
TNR: Wait, IN the bar?
TNR: Oh my god. Moving on… So, tell me a little about your tats?
GD: I just have two right now, gonna get more. One [I got when] I turned 18 and thought it’d be a good idea to get a tattoo. And another one I got, and didn’t like it, so about a year later, I got a sleeve. And I got this one (points to a Superman symbol embedded in the sleeve) because that’s what my Grandpa called me growing up.
TNR: Love it. So you played football for OSU. How many years?
GD: Worked out to be about one. I was a walk-on. Coach Fickell was actually my individual coach at the time. I was a linebacker.
TNR: Very cool. Where do you see yourself in five years?
GD: I dunno. Um, hopefully sipping a drink out of a coconut somewhere in Hawaii.
TNR: What did you go to school for?
GD: Strategic Communications and Exercise Science…I’d like to eventually like to open my own gym one day. Anything working with people.
TNR: I notice that you always shake hands with people when they close their checks. What’s that all about?
GD: (shrugs) Where else do you go that they do that?
TNR: I know! Does everybody here do that?
GD: Yes. For the most part. If there’s one phrase you could use to describe BBR, it’s “great customer service.” We’re all about making good drinks and being clean. But the biggest thing is that our owners are all about customer service. But now I know you and your friends, because I take the time to talk to you. And you guys now come more often. Downtown, it’s hard to get regulars. You usually only have the Thursday, Friday, Saturday people, doing shots, getting drunk. And we have regulars who come and hang out and talk.
TNR: Yeah! I never thought I’d be a regular at a downtown Arena District bar. EVER.
GD: That’s the thing, though. It’s not obnoxious here, you can get a good meal that you’d have to go somewhere else to get. [Shaking hands] works for me, because I’ve realized it goes a long way. I have regulars all the time now who know my name and I remember their name. Just trying to give them something different than they’d get somewhere else. It just goes a long way. It’s a small gesture, but…
TNR: …no, it’s huge.
GD: Yeah. It works.
If you’re looking for a truly unique Arena District Bar experience, stop by BBR at 106 Vine Street. Check out their 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Happy Hour from 3pm-8pm weekdays!