Unusual Bar Brings Signs Of Rebirth in East Franklinton

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John Crispi stands behind the bar at the newly renovated Rehab Tavern on West Town Street.(Photo: Marilyn Smith, WOSU News)
John Crispi stands behind the bar at the newly renovated Rehab Tavern on West Town Street.(Photo: Marilyn Smith, WOSU News)

Downtown commuters headed toward 315 may snicker when they pass the little bar on West Town Street.

But the little bar with the unusual name may be symbolic of the newest wave of renovation underway in East Franklinton on the city’s west side.

It would be referred to as a neighborhood bar if there was any neighborhood around it to speak of.

But there isn’t much of anything on this section of West Town Street except an empty warehouse and a dog training center down the street.

The bar with the unlikely name is called “Rehab Tavern” and owner, developer Brad DeHays says rehab in this case represents something positive.

“Rehab’s a good thing.And that’s the focus where a lot of people talk about rehab associated with alcoholism, drug usage those items. Well by the time someone’s in rehab they’re rehabilitating themselves.”

DeHays has done a lot to rehabilitate what was once the Three Deuces Bar. From the floor…

“We used a basketball court from Minden-Union High School which is up near Van Wert. We still have all the original lines from the key and the three-point line in the court.”

…To the ceiling…

“We have a standing-seam, rusted barn roofing . That was from a barn in St. Mary’s, Ohio.
…to the backsplash behind the bar.

“The back bar area, we have an art piece up there. That is all shattered glass and resin coated so it’s smooth. And it’s behind our liquor bottles. That’s actually all of the mirrors from the Three Deuces Bar.”

DeHays says a lot of money and planning went into the Tavern. He incorporated the help of artists who occupy studio space at nearby 400 West Rich Street.

“One of the things I kept hearing was: ‘Well I hope they make something that’s right for the area.’ And I wanted to take that seriously. So, we thought well, that only way to guarantee that is to get the artists involved and that’s exactly what we’ve done.”

To punctuate his point, DeHays points to the bar created by artists using a variety of recycled materials.

“A cobbled barn wood bar top which has cigar wrappers, broken glass, parts of the mirror from the original Three Deuces Bar, barn wood. I mean everything is uniquely placed and then resin coated so it’s like glass.”

As a result of their collaboration and in the spirit of being a good neighbor, DeHays declines any commission on the artwork that hangs for sale along the walls of the Rehab Tavern.

So far, DeHays doesn’t have many neighbors. But he feels sure that will soon change.

The Coleman administration last year demolished Riverside Bradley, an apartment complex DeHays describes as the worst in the city. It was often the scene of violent crime.

The city recently completed construction on new Town and Rich Street bridges connecting Franklinton to downtown.

In November, City Council approved a tax exemption to non-residential property owners in East Franklinton.

All those measures are designed to encourage commercial development in what was once a thriving manufacturing and residential area.

Alex Bandar of the Idea Foundry says the 100 artists and fabricators who use the Foundry’s equipment on a regular basis or rent studio space may soon take advantage of the tax break.

‘The new facility is much larger so we’d have more room for more tools, for more studio space. It’s also a prettier location. So we’d have a very attractive second floor with a hardwood floor, lots of light. We’d look forward to putting in an events’ space an interactive auditorium.

Bandar says the Foundry is hoping to make an announcement before Mayor Coleman’s State of the City address in early 2013.

  • Jillian

    Excited to see the rebirth of Franklinton and amazing design work by local artist Kevin Bickle at the Rehab Tavern. http://www.kevinbickle.com

  • resident

    As a resident, I am a big supporter of Franklinton and innovative ways to bring new life to this place. But to name your bar Rehab, is like a slap in the face. If you truly want to contribute to this neighborhood, look around you. Look at the rates of alcoholism amongst your low-income neighbors and save the trendy, ironic names for a more Hipster area. Rehab from alcoholism is a real thing, and it’s not to be found in your establishment. Fantastic use of local artists and upcycled materials-yes. Rehab-no.