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Two Bucks hops into campus bar scene

Two Bucks’ original made-to-order mac’n’cheese dish. Credit: Courtesy of Two Bucks

A Cleveland bar franchise will bring its mom-and-pop atmosphere and low-priced food and drink specials to Columbus with its opening in the University District on Friday.

Two Bucks has moved into space previously held by Rooks Tavern on 195 Chittenden Ave. Eric Nugent, managing member of Two Bucks, said he believes that despite being so close to campus, the bar will appeal to a wide range of people.

“I think we speak to the masses, and we’re not trying to be all things for everyone, but as a casual restaurant we attract the 21- and 22-year-old just as frequently as we attract a 75-year-old, and the 40- to 50-year-olds as well,” Nugent said.

After a few weeks of testing the waters, Nugent said he’s aiming to hold the bar’s grand opening at the end of April.

Forgoing traditional specials that most bars offer during one time of the day or week, Two Bucks has built its brand on keeping low drink and food prices throughout the day. This will also be the case at its Columbus location, where most domestic beers, several cocktails and a special section of its menu are priced at $2.

This will be the franchise’s sixth location since first opening in Avon, a suburb on the west side of Cleveland, in 2009.

Kas Filippova, one of the Two Bucks Columbus owners, said the franchise stays away from prepackaged food, instead offering food made in-house.

“We’re not talking about rows of products that we get in bags and just throw in the fryer, we make a lot of things from scratch,” Filippova said.

Two Bucks’ pulled bacon sandwich with beer cheese and jalapeño on a pretzel bun, served with fries. Credit: Courtesy of Two Bucks

Two Bucks inherited two smokers from Rooks Tavern, and decided to use them as an opportunity to make the Columbus menu distinct from its other locations.

Exclusively on the Columbus menu will be a dish called “Smok’n a Bowl,” which is a ramen-like noodle bowl served with smoked meat or cauliflower. However, the bar will still offer its classics, such as its popular “Wake and Bake” dish, which features macaroni and cheese topped with homemade tater tots and a fried egg.

Filippova and Nugent’s team has decided to keep the general layout of the space, while adding a few elements to generate an atmosphere that reflects Two Bucks’ other locations.

“We’re adding more televisions and a jukebox to make it a little more neighborhood-bar feel,” Nugent said. “It’s a beautiful build out, so we’re keeping the structure and bones of it.”

Two Bucks will hold its soft opening at 5 p.m. Friday, and will be open daily at 11 a.m.

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