Larry’s Bar, Open Since Before Prohibition, Closes in Columbus, OH

Found out from Chelsea over the holiday break that Larry’s (or more officially, Larry’s Bar, Grill and Seminar) has officially closed its doors for good.

This is such a blow to me, as I spent a good portion of my grad school career hanging out at Larry’s, sitting in a booth and talking with friends. From 1997 – 2000, I attended the MFA program at the Ohio State University in Columbus, OH, for a degree in creative writing/poetry.

Arguably, I learned as much in my classes as I did from talking with my colleagues, and I have incredibly fond memories of Larry’s. I easily count Larry’s as another classroom, and I’m being entirely serious when I say this.

After poetry readings, or after our actual classes (both the ones we attended and the ones we taught ourselves), many of us would gather at Larry’s en masse. Sometimes, I’d settle into the tall, wooden booths to have an intimate conversation with a small group; othertimes, a bunch of us would gather the long tables together and create a huge, Viking-Hall-esque table and close the place out.

Sure, we were drinking. But we also had many long (and serious) discussions about poetry, about fiction, and about writing. We were all graduate students who were incredibly poor, and incredibly passionate about our chosen profession. In terms of Larry’s, there could have been no better backdrop.

There were dogs roaming around the bar at any given time. And there were great selections on the jukebox (one of the few places I’ve seen that had Coltrane next to AC/DC).

I didn’t really photograph much before moving to Chicago, but I do have a set of photos from an evening when I revisited Columbus. I attended a reading by my friends Juliet and Matt in 2005, and a bunch of us went out to Larry’s afterwards. I’m REALLY glad I took some pictures then, as that’s all I’ve got to remember the place.

RIP Larry’s. There was no better bar in Columbus.

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. I had no idea! And I work a block away! :(

    Layla Reply

  2. Amen, brother. I would have gone for their last night open, but I was in Michigan.I’m considering having a Larry’s RIP party.

    juliet Reply

  3. Do you have a pic of the Ice Weasel graffito in the Men’s bathroom?

    Bryan Reply

  4. Sadly, I do not. In fact, I don’t even remember that at all.I’ve a shocking lack of photos from my entire graduate school experience, I’m sorry to say. I didn’t start taking photos until I moved to Chicago, and I’m kicking myself for not having any good photographs of that time and place.In terms of this blog, the only photographic evidence I have from my MFA time was on a random roll of film I found. I later discovered that the images were from my going away party, prior to me moving away from Columbus.I made a little Flash/audio slideshow of the images.Kicking myself, really kicking myself… for not having more stuff like this.

    avoision Reply

  5. This was a nice little memorial. Thanks for paying attention!

    Kristina Reply

  6. I got a better education at Larry’s bar during 50’s and 60’s than at Ohio State where I earned my Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering. Out of roughly 30 regulars 4 to 10 that were found there any evening, at the last count 25 of us got Ph.D.’s, M.D.’s, Law Doctor’s, D.D.S.’s. There were slackers who just made money, but most of us where very involved in drinking and staying in school as long as possible even though it meant on the way picking up advanced degrees, as the price we had to pay. We could talk about philosophy, English lit, evolution, and all types of other topics. When some newbie came in and asked what it was about, I would answer, “It is about time to order another round.” As grad students we could well afford it, since besides books we had no other expensive tastes.

    Gunars K. Neiders, Ph.D., Psy. D. Candidate Reply

    • Gunars,
      I spent many hours in Larry’s in ’57 and ’58 and I remember something that seems to have disappeared years ago. Above the door, where there is now a panel, there used to be a stained glass image of a guy said to be “Four Pound Brown”. I was trying to find the legend of that man when I came across this site. Do you remember anything about that?
      John Anderson

      John Anderson Reply

      • Hi John – I don’t think I ever saw this, but at the same time… I don’t think I ever looked. Stained glass you say? Never heard the name “Four Pound Brown,” but I can check with other OSU folks to see if maybe this rings as bell…

        avoision Reply

  7. FYI Larry’s Bar is now a sports bar called “Sloppy Donkey,” and they painted it bright orange…sad.

    margaret Reply

  8. I was what was called a “regular” member of the Larry’s group. My photographs were often post on the back wall, [just before entering the men’s room], I will post many of my photos next week on I’ll just a few stories of my experiences drinking there in the hope that others who as I, found Larry’s extra special.Walter Johnson

    Walter Johnson Reply

  9. I lived in Columbus 1978-1981. I have many fond memories of jazz, conversation, and chablis.

    Russ Schwartz Reply

  10. Drained way too many Carlings there. Met some really interesting characters, I suppose I was a character too in those days – 1986-1994. Like a number of things in this life there comes a time when you just have to walk away and do something completely different. So I did. Peace.

    JJ Reply

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