This past weekend, I ventured to the state of Ohio for a guy’s road trip, with the primary reason being to take in a Blackhawks road game in Columbus. The original idea was to leave early on Friday, stop in Indianapolis for lunch, walk around that city a bit, and arrive in Columbus by late afternoon.
About a week before the trip, one of the guys on the trip asked if we could add Cleveland as a stop so that we could tour the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I wasn’t enthusiastic over the idea, first because I wasn’t interested in seeing the hall of fame, and second, because the detour to Cleveland would add a few more hours of time in the car. The other friend didn’t have a strong opinion either way, so we agreed we would drive to Cleveland, a city I had yet to visit.
As for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, it didn’t really do it for me. I sure would love to get that $26 back. And for the short time we walked around downtown Cleveland afterwards, there wasn’t enough that I saw that makes me eager to go back anytime soon.
We finally got to our hotel in Columbus near 7:30 that evening — 12 hours after leaving my house that morning. We had spent the better part of the day in the car and had not had much to eat. We were overdue for a decent meal.
We decided to walk around town and find a place to eat. I had suggested we hike towards the Arena District — about 20 minutes from our hotel by the State House — since I was that area on a previous trip and knew there were bars and restaurants in close proximity. By the time we got to the general area, it was after 9 and we were famished. Every place was visibly packed. Not sure which place to try, we settled for the Irish Pub further down the street.
We walked in to find the place completely empty, which should have been our first warning sign that something was off. We stood by the entrance while the workers behind the bar kept going about their business, with one or two of them briefly looking up at us before returning to whatever they were doing. After two minutes of us just standing there, we decided to seat ourselves and see what happened next. Several minutes went by and nothing. Our table was plainly visible from the bar where the workers were. We debated leaving, which I would have been fine doing, but the consensus among the other two was to just wait it out.
After five minutes of restlessness, someone finally walked over and asked what we wanted to drink. After the waitress took our order and left, my buddy mentioned that we didn’t have menus. At that point, it made sense to see if we could find one on their website using our phones, which we did. After skimming through, I began to regret not making a stronger push to leave. There was nothing on the menu that seemed appealing.
Some five minutes after ordering our drinks, the waitress finally made her way back with them. As she arrived, from seemingly out of nowhere came an older guy who appeared to be a manager. Much to our surprise, the guy opened with an apology. For a moment, I was starting to feel some relief that perhaps there might actually be a lone sensible employee at this place who recognized just how awkward our experience had been so far.
Seemingly embarrassed, the guy informed us that they could not serve us because they had a private party scheduled. We had to go.
While further annoyed that we had wasted more time, I was also relieved that I wouldn’t have to settle for something from their menu. I was happy to walk out of there in hopes of finding another place that may not have a horribly long wait.
We found a place. While everything ultimately worked out, things didn’t get off to a good start at restaurant number two when we had to again seat ourselves. At least this time, a waiter soon came by to take our order. After a few minutes, my patience was further tested when he came back to let me know that he wasn’t sure if they had the entree I had ordered, but that he would let me know after checking with the kitchen. It was a long two or three minutes while I waited for him to return. To my relief, they did have it, and everything else afterwards went okay.
As for that first restaurant, in retrospect, the one star Trip Advisor and the two star Yelp ratings seem about right.