While it doesn’t take a ton of arm-twisting for me to like a charming neighborhood bar such as the Hey Hey Bar and Grill on the edge of German Village, the friendly staff, “Best Sauerkraut Balls,” and grinning bartender pouring booze out of a muppet’s crotch had me truly, madly deeply in love at first night.
We stopped into the Hey Hey Bar and Grill on a Friday night and were pleased to find a jovial crowd of regulars enjoying Wheel of Fortune, with audio…and jeers. We sat in a cozy booth with adorable matching napkins and placements that differed from table to table. The juxtaposition of muscle shirts with the bar’s logo and the occasionally Pinterest-worthy touches in the decor was both fascinating and comforting.
A loud fight at the bar about Jim Brown and the disputed fact whether he was an all-American lacrosse player–he was…I think–served as background noise as our waitress happily offered us food and drink menus. The beer list honestly blew me away. I was expecting to choose among my favorite cans (Hamm’s, Schlitz, etc., not that there’s anything wrong with that) but was greeted with Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout and plenty of other fantastic craft beers. By our waitress’ urging we got two orders of sauerkraut balls, one regular, one jalapeno, and we were not disappointed. Full disclosure, we ended up ordering a third order for another go at the jalepeno because we are absolute hogs.
The food menu was impressive as well as the folks behind Swoop! Food Cart now call the Hey Hey kitchen home with their Bebe at the Hey Hey pop-up restaurant. We took extra long deciding what to order because everything sounded amazing. The Bebe menu offers everything from wings, to yak burgers, to risotto to mac and cheese, and it’s nearly impossible to choose among the impressive dishes. We ended up going with the baked macaroni and cheese with pot roast and the mushroom risotto; both were perfection served on Grandma’s plates.
Despite the impressive beer list and menu from Bebe, the Hey Hey features all great dive bar assets. Keno, Pat Sajak on the speakers, local varsity jackets hanging on the walls, a large bar with the seats full, and a number of rooms with groups of all ages enjoying their Friday evenings. If you’re not into the craft beer scene the Hey Hey offers plenty of macrobrew options as well as booze and wine, which includes the aforementioned mystery booze served from a smiling muppet.
Regulars high-fived each other while yelling answers to Wheel of Fortune puzzles, a speckled flamingo and hippo guarded the bar and icicle lights flashed as the Friday unfolded around us. The scene at the Hey Hey is loud, friendly and fun, and people quickly became friends and frenemies while enjoying the welcoming atmosphere. A few men goaded a casually drunk young woman into playing pool for “the first time” as she proclaimed “If I can drink while I do it, I’m all about it!” She quickly hustled the men of their money while they happily grinned and begrudgingly handed it over.
By the time we left the Hey Hey a few hours later Obama was on one television, the Pacers on another and Keno on the rest. No one really seemed concerned about watching television unless it involved potential money, and most guests were engrossed in conversation, which is a sign to me of a great bar. People bartered cigarettes for shots among each other while they challenged each other to darts, pool, and trivia about past football greats.
The service at the Hey Hey was quick and friendly, and plenty of wisdom flew around from the regulars. The Pizza Hut/Cheers versions of Tiffany lights cast the bar in a warm glow, and the occasional song played on the TouchTunes over Wheel of Fortune.
The Hey Hey is history, mixed with friendship, mixed with cozy drunks, mixed with an eye-opening menu and beer list. The sauerkraut balls truly are the best I’ve had, and the food from Bebe at the Hey Hey is some of the best I’ve had in Columbus, and I eat A LOT of food. The crowd at the Hey Hey was welcoming, the service was prompt and friendly and the eclectic style is entertaining. The Hey Hey Bar and Grill has earned its spot as one of my favorite dive bars, restaurants and craft beer destinations, and that trifecta is a rare gem. Well done, Hey Hey. You’ve earned yourself a shot from the muppet’s crotch.
“Dive In” is Laura’s ongoing exploration of Columbus’ best dive bars.