Bernie's Bagels and Distillery
Bernie's Bagels & Deli, formerly known as Bernie's Bagels and Distillery, was a dive bar located near the campus of the Ohio State University. The hole-in-the-wall bar and restaurant shuttered it's doors after 40 years of serving alcohol to teens and serving sandwiches to hungry campus denizens in 2015.
Currently, the address of Bernie's Bagels & Deli is a CVS pharmacy.
I've actually played at Bernie's. The stage had a hole in it for several years. The hole was carpeted over by some genius who also left some screws sticking up. It was big enough to swallow your foot up to the ankle, if you were dumb enough to not see it.
Other bands would call it dangerous, but I preferred to call it "adventurous."
If you were a drummer, you were sequestered in the very back corner of the bar area behind the band, house amplifiers, and the pool table (added in the mid 1990s) and had you had to move your equipment just to get out from behind your drum set.
If you had a buddy who was a keyboardist, he would complain because he would actually have to set his or her equipment up in the food serving area. Everybody knows that keyboardists are distant snobs though, so nobody listened to them.
Finally, the bassist would usually set up on the right side of the stage and sit on a couple of stacked milk crates and play his instrument in the dankest, darkest part of the venue. This is normal bassist behavior.
It was fucking great.
Then, finally, the sound guy is always late.
Bernie's was an underground sweat hole. At times, it could smell like mold or rotting vegetable matter. Other times, it could smell like burned garlic and ashes. Nonetheless, thousands of under-aged drinkers would show up night after night, buying cheap drinks and watching really cool bands. Also, they had a pretty good kitchen, depending on the evening you happened to stagger in.
The menu was standard delicatessen fare. You could get a great Reuben sandwich, a mediocre bowl of chicken noodle soup, and various other dishes that pot head hippy stoners could cook up in a dirty galley kitchen just off the bar.
They also had a huge variety of home made bagels (duh) that were trendy before cheap cafe/bistro food became trendy.
One very notable dish was the "Willie Phoenix" sandwich, named after the Columbus, Ohio guitar legend. Two slices of thick cut rye bread, toasted with butter are the bed of this meal. They then added grilled thick sliced Portobello mushrooms, onions, and peppers. Once all of those ingredients were added to the slabs of bread, thin slices of pastrami and salami were added and then smothered in a garlic and basil tomato sauce. Finally, they topped the sandwich with several slices of mozzarella cheese and then placed under the broiler.
Served with a home made pickle and a pile of kettle cut chips, this was one of the best sandwiches anybody ever ate, if you could manage to get over the basement smell of the environment.
They did specialized coffees ten years before the first Starbucks opened in Columbus. Nobody drank that shit though, because the place opened at five in the morning and truckers and third shifters would show up for some greasy eggs and a cup of joe. Those guys just took it with cream and/or sugar. After 8:00pm the magic beverages really started to flow.
Imagine, in your mind, a pre-grunge 1990s world where Dead Heads and Wooks were allowed free reign in a bar, mixing up anything they could dream up, while hundreds of under aged drinkers were screaming at them.
Mostly hot college girls who were told to "dress as if you want tips." Some of the bouncers and bartenders were hippies, too skinny or too high to actually stop trouble if it occurred.
Much the same as the bartenders. Short shorts, halter tops, and usually armpit hair on the women...they were hippies after all.
From the sound guy:
I was the sound guy there, which came with challenges and opportunities, I guess you could say, because every day was crisis mode. There'd be days you would come in and the entire sound system would be gone, and it was like, 'OK, what do I do?' Everyone did their best, but the budget was non-existent, so a lot of it was stuff people left there. 'Oh, I need cables.' Well, fortunately cables were left here. I'll just get my soldering gun.
Just going to say it straight, everybody hated the sound guy.
Performances happen seven nights a week on the postcard-sized stage by locals as well as a plethora of regional and national touring acts The diminutive size of the club belies the enormity of some of the talent that's been booked. Yes, Beck played there. Any music can happen, but indie rock is the most prevalent flavor.