Archive for April, 2018
This edition of Columbus Restaurant Spotlight is a love story–not just between two people, but for the city and restaurant in which they met.
Mike Darr met Natalie Connor through mutual friends in 2004 and instantly hit it off.
Mike was working in IT and moved to Columbus for work.
Natalie was managing the original R Bar – located in the heart of Columbus’ Arena District.
Once they started dating, Mike would visit R Bar frequently to hang out with (and distract) Natalie while she worked. Within the year, he asked her to marry him.
At this time, R Bar lacked a true identity – a point discussed by Mike and Natalie frequently throughout their relationship. So, after receiving the opportunity to buy the restaurant and bar in 2005, the newlyweds – along with business partner Danny Capoccia – jumped at the chance to create something truly special.
In 2006, the new and improved R Bar Arena was officially open for business.
The Birth of a Columbus Hockey Bar
“Before we had children, R Bar basically was our child,” stated Mike in a 2016 Columbus Alive interview, “and we got to see it grow into being rated one of the top 10 hockey bars in the United States.”
After their purchase of R Bar, Mike and Natalie Darr – who now also own The Three-Legged Mare – set to work establishing its brand. Noticing there wasn’t a sports bar in Columbus dedicated to hockey, the couple knew they had found their niche.
It wasn’t long before R Bar was established as the hockey bar in Columbus. It became the first restaurant in the area to get NHL Center Ice – the penultimate TV package for NHL hockey games – and the first bar to be outfitted with flat-screen TVs (there are now more than 30 throughout the restaurant).
This hockey-heavy setup allows patrons to not only watch Columbus Blue Jackets games, but virtually every other NHL game as well. The bar even broadcasts international hockey games for fans visiting from abroad.
Adding to the authenticity is the fact that R Bar is decked out, wall to wall, with hockey memorabilia. And it’s not limited to the Blue Jackets – examples include autographed pictures of Gordie Howe, a Maurice Richard mural, a restaurant booth built like a penalty box, a jumbotron suspended above the bar and even men’s urinals with divisional rivals’ logos plastered inside.
With Nationwide Arena a stone’s throw away, R Bar also works directly with the Columbus Blue Jackets on a variety of functions and charitable initiatives – most recently partnering on a raffle to support Dollar Energy Fund, a charity that provides utility assistance grants to low-income families.
Now that they have a family of their own, Mike and Natalie have also begun putting an emphasized focus on local hockey initiatives – working to develop youth hockey and, more specifically girl’s hockey, in the Columbus community.
A Menu of Champions
While Natalie and Mike Darr’s R Bar concentrates a ton of energy on hockey and the culture surrounding it, the real draw is in its delectable bar food and wide array of drink options.
The Columbus restaurant features popular food and drink specials daily, including exclusive game-day promotions that feed the Arena District’s vibrant and energetic atmosphere. From Jackets fans to event attendees coming from the Greater Columbus Convention Center, there’s something delicious for everyone!
Menu items include The Enforcer (loaded kettle chips with blue cheese dressing, bacon, and blue cheese crumbles), The Gordie (an 8-inch hoagie topped with sausage, pepperoni, meatballs, banana peppers, garlic oil, and provolone cheese), the CBJ Burger (fresh Angus patty topped with cheddar, bacon and jalapeno) and a variety of 12-inch craft pizzas.
An All-Star Staff
Contributing heavily to the success of R Bar Arena is its top-notch team of employees. Mike says one of the most important factors in running the business is selecting the right staff. One that works well together, is engaged with customers and keeps people coming back – even on those rare days where nothing is happening in the Arena District.
By fostering an attitude for success, rather than a formula, R Bar brings in tons of regulars who interact with their favorite staff members and enjoy the great food and spirits they serve up.
Looking for volunteer opportunities in Columbus?
There are plenty of organizations in and around Columbus that consistently seek out volunteers to support a variety of charitable causes and community events.
In our latest installment of What’s Around – a series from Columbus Downtown Apartments that gives residents a look at the various shopping, culture and entertainment options available in their backyard – we explore a few of the many ways you and your friends can give back to the Columbus community.
Volunteer with Columbus
Volunteer with Columbus is a volunteering hub started by Experience Columbus – an organization that helps make Columbus an appealing destination to visit and live. The initiative is a one-stop-shop for hundreds of volunteer opportunities in the city – mostly featuring roles to support community events, festivals and activities.
Columbus Gives Back
Focused primarily on volunteer and philanthropic opportunities for young professionals in Columbus, Columbus Gives Back is a great way to meet new friends while supporting great causes. The nonprofit mainly works on events for an array of local small- to medium-sized organizations – allowing volunteers to explore different areas of Columbus and its culture.
Columbus Humane Society
If helping animals is a passion of yours, then consider volunteering with the Columbus Humane Society! The charity offers several skills programs and classes centered around caring for animals, and volunteers get to meet others who share their similar interests. Columbus Humane Society also features one-time volunteer experiences for organizations or businesses in Columbus looking to make a difference in their community.
Fundraise at Nationwide Arena
Forget bake sales and car washes, fundraising with Nationwide Arena is an exciting, creative and fun alternative that caters to everyone from church groups to fraternities and sororities. Through vendor Delaware North, Nationwide Arena fundraising volunteers help out at foodservice stands throughout the concourse, and organizations receive commission on net sales for each event worked.
Franklin Park Conservatory
Got a green thumb? The Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus is always in need of individual or group volunteers to help maintain their beautiful garden and educate visitors about the conservatory, its exhibitions and its nature. Volunteer opportunities at Franklin Park Conservatory range from weekly, monthly, seasonal or one-time.
Nationwide Children’s Hospital
If you love kids and want to make a difference in their lives, then volunteering at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus is a great way to get started. The hospital looks for volunteers of all ages – from adults, to teens, to college students and groups – to serve in a variety of different roles and functions, depending on interest and experience level.
Columbus Metropolitan Library
The perfect volunteer opportunity for bookworms, the Columbus Metropolitan Library is a great way to make a difference in the lives of library visitors throughout Columbus. Volunteer options include shelving books, helping kids with their homework, reading to children and teaching people basic computer and job search skills.
Dress for Success Columbus
Dress for Success Columbus is a nonprofit that empowers women to achieve their career goals through complimentary suiting, career center and employment retention programs. The organization is always looking for volunteers passionate about the cause to help in their boutique, assist in their career center, mentor and speak to women, support special events and much more.
Do you know of any other great volunteer opportunities in Columbus? Share them in the comments!