Betty’s Bar

Columbus, Ohio

Johnnie's Tavern - Columbus Dive Bar - Exterior

In Short

Carpeted bathrooms and a theme night that has to be experienced to be understood, Betty’s is a dive bar so true to its roots that it’s earned a “Dirty” Betty’s nickname that befits the bar’s oasis status among rampant downtown Columbus development.

Field Rating

7

out of 10

Just trust us on the Thursday thing.

Field Note

Columbus featured dueling bars named Betty’s for a period of time during the mid-2010’s. One was known for a cozy, quant vibe, an eclectic menu and some seriously satisfying food. The other one was referred to as “Dirty Betty’s.” Take a wild guess at which Betty’s we’ve added to the Scoundrel’s Field Guide for Columbus.

“Dirty” Betty’s Bar has earned the name. The dueling Betty’s dynamic vanished as quickly as quirky restaurant Betty’s did in 2014, but the “Dirty” moniker yet persists for the tiny one-room bar in the shadow of Columbus’ minor league baseball stadium. Its existence is a minor miracle, a throwback to a time before Columbus’ downtown gentrification that still stands in the shadow of encroaching development.

The story goes that the bar continues to fend off all suggestion that it shouldn’t exist, inconsiderately deciding instead to keep serving inexpensive beer as the city evolves a few steps away.

As time goes by, the legend of the bar owner’s obstinance in the face of monetary, civic and financial pressures only grows. The true tale I’m certain could be obtained for a handful of High Lifes on the right bar stool on a slow day, but the story goes that the bar continues to fend off all suggestion that it shouldn’t exist, inconsiderately deciding instead to keep serving inexpensive beer as the city evolves a few steps away.

Betty’s can be partially summed up by the presence of carpeted bathrooms and a weekly Thong Thursday tradition, wherein the bartender on duty dons a thong for a few extra-happy hours. A thing that has be to be seen to be not just be believed, but even understood, the thong wearer in question operates with no suggestion that anything is amiss while a line of patrons saddled up to the bar try to pretend that’s true. It’s bizarre, slightly uncomfortable and absurdly ostentatious, much like a thong.

What effect nearby prosperity will have on the bar. Will they replace the bathroom carpet? Will they require pants?

A back patio unfolds into a parcel of land slowly being developed in downtown Columbus, a development likely to accelerate as a new downtown soccer stadium a few blocks away changes the growth trajectory of the area. As the economic clout around Betty’s continues to improve, it remains to be seen what effect nearby prosperity will have on the bar. Will they replace the bathroom carpet? Will they require pants?

For now, Betty’s lives up to its hard-earned, given-with-love “Dirty” moniker. Well-worn pool table. $1 PBR. Morally-questionable theme night. It is a steadfast dive bar island amid rapid development and a perfect oasis for a Thursday…or any other day.

Photos

The Basics

435 W Nationwide Blvd
Columbus, OH 43215

Classification:
Neighborhood Bar

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