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Browning on Business: Downtown bar celebrates one year under new ownership


William Browning

William Browning



William Browning



A year ago, Rob Swindol opened The Elbow Room, a well-known downtown Columbus bar dating back to the 1950s that had been closed a while. 


He put in a new ceiling. He put in new walls and barstools. Along the bar itself, he installed new trim and a new rail. He started selling "Elbow Room" T-shirts. A few months ago, he painted the establishment's exterior. This week, he plans on having an awning put up outside the Second Avenue North spot. 


Swindol, who owns the business along with his mother, Barbara, is making a go of it, and it's going well. They are currently in the process of buying the building that houses The Elbow Room. 


Why? Clearly, they believe in the future of downtown Columbus. 


"We thought it was a good venture," he said. 


While Swindol has worked to update the 1,400 square foot watering hole's structure, he has also worked to rehabilitate its reputation. Three years ago, a fatal shooting took place in the bar, and it closed. Then it re-opened for a brief stint before closing again. That's when Swindol and his mother, late last summer, stepped in. 


They are both fans of the arts (Rob plays guitar and paints) and every other Saturday night The Elbow Room usually has live music. Each Wednesday is open mic night. Usually, someone with an acoustic guitar performs. Swindol, though, welcomes stand-up comedy and poetry readings. He is also open to having local artists display work inside the bar. 


But the bar retains some of its old school charm. There is a jukebox, a pool table and darts. A mounted deer head hangs on one wall. 


Swindol sells nearly 30 kinds of beer and has plans to construct a small kitchen. This weekend, the bar (occupancy rate: 49) is having a "Back To School" themed party for college students. 


The Elbow Room is open 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 4 p.m. to midnight Sunday. 


Staying in Columbus, Willie Menotti is looking to sale or lease a piece of property he owns along Highway 45 North. Menotti had the structure at 1923 Hwy. 45 N. built in 1985. It sits on roughly two acres. Up until about five years ago, the Honda car lot was there. 


Menotti has cleaned out the lot, and is planning on tearing down the building on the property. He said that through the years, 100s of people have inquired about the spot, and he views the structure as a hindrance to getting someone to invest in the location, which by the way is in front of Walmart and beside La Fiesta Brava. 


Lastly, Golden Glow Tanning Salon will open Tuesday. The new business is located in a 1,900 square foot spot at 1217 Hwy. 45 N. -- across from Leigh Mall. Steve Pyle is the owner. 


Pyle said the salon has all brand new tanning equipment (beds, stand-up equipment, Mystic Spray tan, other options). Each tanning room will have its own sound system, Pyle added, and there will be several different membership levels available to customers. 


It will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and (tentatively) on Sunday from noon to 7 p.m., according to Pyle. 


The salon will have four to five employees. 


Browning on Business is a weekly column that runs each Thursday. We want your input. Send items and tips to [email protected] or [email protected]


William Browning was managing editor for The Dispatch until June 2016.



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