Forget the six-hour drive. Bristol Republic, a new country bar and restaurant, will bring Nashville, Tennessee, right to Columbus’ own backyard.
Beginning this weekend, the 5,000-square-foot restaurant will feature “competition quality” barbecue, live music and an extended selection of bourbon.
“So many people travel down to Nashville for birthday parties or bachelorette parties and come back saying they absolutely love the place,” owner Brian Swanson said. “I wanted to recreate that vibe in the Short North.”
Bristol Republic’s menu will feature a large selection of appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, salads and other southern staples, such as mac and cheese and fresh barbecue.
As part of a collaboration with Smoked On High, a barbecue restaurant in the Brewery District, the barbecue will be smoked on-site daily and will be available for dinner, late at night and eventually lunch as the restaurant expands, Smoked on High owner Max McGarity said.
“When Brian approached me about the venue, I liked that it was this living and breathing southern bluegrass type of place that really speaks to barbecue,” McGarity said. “I just thought, if done correctly, this can really be something really different and cool for Columbus.”
Smoked on High’s meat is locally sourced and prepared with a three-spice rub of salt, pepper and sugar, with sauce served on the side. The meat is also cut on a different type of wood than most competitors use, which gives it a distinct flavor profile, McGarity said.
“Honestly, what makes our barbecue so unique is the simplicity of it,” McGarity said. “We stand by the cut, quality and taste alone of our barbecue.”
The bar and restaurant will also have live music Thursday through Saturday nights, and smaller acts will perform from noon to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Acts will come from Chicago, Nashville, St. Louis and Austin to perform, and Bristol Republic will feature local artists as well, Swanson said.
“The country music station is the most-listened-to radio station in Columbus, so I think the desire for a space like this is there,” Swanson said. “Country [music] isn’t what it used to be; it is a lot more popular and very different now.”
Country-themed or not, Swanson said because this is Buckeye territory, he knew he needed to accommodate students and sports enthusiasts with a place to watch games and grab drinks.
“We have tons of TVs and a nice bourbon and beer selection, so it will be a great place to watch sports too,” Swanson said.
The bar will serve happy hour deals from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday through Friday and will feature an extended collection of rare bourbons, Swanson said.
Bristol Republic partnered with Watershed Distillery to create a signature bourbon, aptly titled Bristol Bourbon.
After working on the concept for three years, Swanson is excited to “fill the void” of barbecue and live country music in the Short North.
“Having the live music and just the genre of music in general make it different than anything in the area,” Swanson said. “I don’t think you can go wrong with barbecue, live music and bourbon.”
Bristol Republic is set to open at 5 p.m. on Friday at 1124 N. High St.