Actual Brewing Co.’s Clintonville pub is a star-studded affair.
There’s Alana Shock, former proprietor of Alana’s, as chef; Scott Francis, the dean of Columbus craft brewing, as brew master; and three light shades over a trio of guest tables that show the starry night sky on three specific dates.
The pub, which was announced more than two years ago, will have a soft opening on Jan. 4 with the grand opening set for later in January.
The look is something only the folks behind Actual, Fred and Mira Lee, could pull off. The high-top tables are made of barn wood from a barn near Athens, where Fred was born. The three tables beneath those starry light shades are school laboratory tables salvaged from Fred’s middle school near Cincinnati. The bar top is a relief of Clintonville’s Glen Echo Ravine, which runs near the pub’s address, 2808 N. High St., next to Lucky’s Market. The TV behind the bar will often feature the NASA live stream or other science fare.
There are seats for 69, but the 2,200-square-foot space can hold 80 or more.
Francis will brew on Actual’s old equipment — a new system is being installed at the brewery’s headquarters by the airport — which was also used when Actual bought it. The system will be familiar to Francis, who brewed on it at the New Albany Country Club 15 years ago. The tanks are set off to one side of the dining room behind a partial wall of glass. Francis will brew four beers at the pub, all of which will only be available on tap there.
“He brews to music,” Fred Lee said. “I told him to be less Beatles and more prog rock.”
The food will be whatever Shock whips up. She offered a few ideas, like chicken salad sandwiches with brie and cranberries, more vegetarian and vegan dishes than not, and sweets like peanut butter and jelly bars. She also wants to offer a daily mystery “lunch tray” served on a real school cafeteria tray, which will give diners only two choices, vegetarian or meat. The lunch tray will sell for around $12.
“And you can’t have a pub unless you have wings,” Shock said. Hers will be marinated in a, “magical red chili sauce,” and grilled.
Fred Lee’s original vision for the pub’s grub was upscale sloppy joe sandwiches, which Shock is considering. Mira Lee said they tossed out all of their own ideas when Shock came on board.
“You don’t hire Alana and tell her what to do,” Mira Lee said. “She’s the one with the good ideas.”
Shock, who closed Alana’s in 2016 and did some traveling, spending time in Belize and northern Ohio, said she knew she’d get back into the restaurant business, but she didn’t want to open her own place or run a restaurant. Actual’s science-themed, casual pub suited her interests.
“I just wanna have fun,” Shock said. “I’m going to do it until they tell me not to.”
Fred lee said the pub has taken so long to put together because they took their time to get things right and didn’t want to take on debt to do the project. The taproom by the airport will continue to operate as usual.
There will be 24 beer taps, with 12 of Actual’s core beers, four of Francis’s beers, some ciders, a mead or two, wine, maybe a cocktail, craft soda, and cold-brew coffee. The pub will be open for lunch, dinner and won’t close until 1 a.m. to capture late-night crowds.
“We had this fun, lazy tap room for so long,” Mira Lee said. “Now we’ll see what happens when we are actually trying.”