CMH Gourmand – Eating in Columbus & Ohio

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Posts Tagged ‘Ace of Cups’

Ace of Cups: An Arsenal for Awesomeness!

Posted by CMH Gourmand on November 14, 2012

There is a lot of history at Ace of Cups. Some of it and the back story of Ray Ray’s moving to the spot were detailed earlier in the year – here. Consider that the prelude.

The Ace of Cups is located at 2619 North High Street in a building that housed a bank for decades and then a series of very lame bars including The Counterfeit Heist (really – what were you kids thinking) and Miani’s (again – what were you thinking, who was going to go to a bar that they would be hard pressed to pronounce or know if it meant anything drunk or sober). The space bolstered a bar scene of mediocrity serving college kids and folks training for El Dorado’s and Zuey’s. The area was helped by the arrival of Late Night Slice a few years ago to give people cheap pizza and slut sauce but that was not enough. What Old(e) North Columbus needed was a bar with character.

Marcy Mays has a lot of character. To those that follow(ed) the 1980’s music scene of Columbus Marcy Mays is well-known as one of the members of Scrawl. Before Liz Lessner launched the empire that was Betty’s Family of Restaurants which is now the mighty Columbus Food League, Marcy was a partial investor in the first incantation of Surly Girl in the early 2000 – oughts. Marcy has a passion for music and bars and food and then more music so for our benefits she has invested those passions, and her heart, soul and retirement income into Ace of Cups. Although continuing to work a day job she, like many super heroines, has an alter ego as the proprietress, chief glass washer and booker of really good but somewhat obscure bands at Ace of Cups. She is assisted by an able body of local bar talent including the muse of G.A. Benton. The bar would best be described as eclectic hence the need for a ping-pong table in the middle of the floor. The place has the essence of what you would want a bar to have when you were in college with the addition of what you wanted a bar to have after college with a small dash of what you need to feel like you are not an old person hanging out in a bar. The whole works. The parts work. And it all comes together. The bar menu includes a strong beer selection, well mixed cocktails, homemade lemonade and vodka infusions. There is small in-house menu of simple snacks and nachos.

Adding to the electic mix mentioned above is Ray Ray’s. I will not wax on about Ray Ray’s because I have numerous times before. If there was ever a place that Ray Ray’s was made for, it is the patio of Ace of Cups. The pairing is like the marriage of friends that you know will last forever and you are a bit jealous of. Another perfect fit for the bar is Rogue Bakery. I am surprised that the goddess Demeter has not struck me down for failing to mention Rogue Bakery. I know the owner. I have tweeted about him, Foodcasted about him and eaten at least one hundred of his cookies in my lifetime. He once totaled his car shortly after delivering cookies to me. I owe him. But the most important thing I can say about Rogue Bakery is that Carl crafts the finest cookies with the best labels that money could buy. So here is the thing. THE THING! Ace of Cups has an exclusive Rogue Bakery Cookie. The only place, in the world, where one can obtain this special (and very good) cookie for consumption is at Ace of Cups. Quick reminder inserted here. Ace of Cups is a bar…..that has the best cookie in town. And the best BBQ. And really good beer. And character. The only thing the place is lacking….the absence of a vintage Galaga Machine and a barmaid that has a soft spot for me who slips me a free cookie with my beer on occasion. But who am I to want perfection when I am given pure awesomeness.

A few side notes on some other notable features: house made vodka inclusions, a comfortable couch and better bathrooms than one would expect.

Posted in bar, BBQ, beer, desserts | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Ray Ray’s 2.0: Two Trucks, Same Menu, Much Better Venue

Posted by CMH Gourmand on May 1, 2012

It was a sad day for Baja Clintonville. It was a great day for Old North Columbus, Jaime Anderson, Ace of Cups and the SoHud Non-Industrial Complex. After an extraordinary run in an unlikely convenience store parking Ray Ray’s Hog Pit has moved on.

There is no need for me to write accolades about Ray Ray’s – 96% of your already know or have read about Ray Ray’s and wanted to go but never did. You now have many more reasons to drive just slightly south on High Street for the full Ray Ray’s experience. The BBQ master is now based at Ace of Cups. What does that mean? It means beer…good beer, a patio, a great live music line up and a bar that will be successful in a location that has repeatedly failed. It also means better parking, twice the BBQ output and a pairing of two business that were meant for each other. By combining their strengths, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Ray Rays and Ace of Cups is the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, (the peanut butter and chocolate) of food pairings.

Marcy Mays is the owner and bartender in chief of Ace of Cups. You might have heard of her in a past life in the band Scrawl or maybe as a one of the founders of saloon called Surly Girl. She has taken a building that was a bank, that turned into a series of failed bars. It was a place that never seemed to come together. She is making it work while working fulltime and pursuing other projects at the same time. Ace of Cups has a ping-pong table to complement the patio and an inside menu, with vegan items to complete the carnivorous offerings of Ray Ray’s.

Jaime Anderson worked in the BBQ trade before finding a niche in a trailer that did great in an unwieldy spot. The secret to success: time, word of mouth and a commitment to the art and science of BBQ that polished this diamond in the rough. It worked. But not without some barriers. The biggest obstacles – some bull-headed bureaucracy and literally a handful of people who saw a small business person, running a BBQ operation in a trailer as a threat to their customer base or as someone who should be paying a higher rent elsewhere out of self-interest, not community good.

There is a downside to the story of Ray Ray’s 1.0. This is where the bureaucracy comes in. Jaime has a trailer. Pubic Health requires that a food trailer move every 45 days. There is some obscurely worded, arcane and unclear zoning and other city regulations that are inconsistently observed as requiring a trailer to move every day. From a health and safety standpoint – there is no support for this requirement. From a practical and pragmatic point of view the 24 hour rule is rarely enforced and often ignored but for some reason the microscope zoomed in on Jaime. Maybe he was too successful, received too much press or caught some bad karma. The 1% won against the 99% on this joust.

Jaime tried to get the city departments to explain to him why he had to tear down and set each day that he was in operation. He was only set up a few days a week so the possibility of being unsafe or unsanitary did not exist. Jaime continued to hit a brick wall fighting city hall and never received a real answer. He invested money and time, hired a lawyer and more. Eventually he had to give up, suck it up and waste three to five hours each business day setting up and tearing down for no good reason. In spite of this Sisyphean effort, he continued, thrived and has now moved on. For a point of record….there is another trailer business nearby which does not set up and tear down every day. There are several mobile businesses that dodge the hoops Jaime had to jump through. Is there some reason he was singled out? Whatever it was, he has moved on to a better place and Clintonville loses a bit of its character in the process. Fortunately, Ray Ray’s is still a short bike ride away from his original spot. The Ville will miss you Ray Ray’s but we could not think of a better spot for you. Thanks for being the peanut butter Ace of Cups. And now we watch a reason to visit Clintonville and discover our other independent businesses go away. Now Ray Ray’s is a side note in our community history of lost opportunities.

Ray Ray's Hog Pit on Urbanspoon

Posted in bar, BBQ, Clintonville, Gastronomic Stimulus | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »