It's been a long wait for Cory and Stacey Schaefer, owners of Big 10 Sports Bar and Grill, to open their business' doors to customers.
After originally planning to open in March, the Schaefers had to adjust their plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now the wait is finally over.
Big Ten Sports Bar and Grill, 510 E. 23rd St. in Columbus, is officially set to at 5 p.m. today. This moment has been a long time coming for Cory and Stacey.
The couple got a little taste on Wednesday night during a friends-and family-soft opening.
Cory described the moment as breathtaking.
"It was amazing," Stacey said. "It was exhilarating. We filled every seat that we were legally allowed to fill. It was really cool to see and hear the bar buzzing like it should be when we’ve been in here for five months and it’s been so quiet."
But, there are some guidelines that Big 10 has to follow.
They will be limited to 50% of maximum occupancy at a time, which is 120 people and each dinning party must maintain a minimum of 6 feet of separation from each dining party.
There will be a maximum of six individuals in each dining party and there will be no sitting at the bar or counter.
Patrons can only consume alcohol on the premise if also consuming a meal.
Staff will also be wearing masks and other steps have been taken to keep customers and staff safe.
Despite having to follow health guidelines, the Schaefers said they believe it will be an exciting night.
"We’re really excited to get open," Cory said. "We’re excited for the town to come try it out. It’s something different. It’s something you have to come check it out to really understand it."
Big 10 will stay open until 1 a.m. Friday and serve food the entire time.
"This is a place that if you’re getting out late or getting off work late and you still want to get something to eat and sit down and relax, as long as the people are coming in we’ll keep the food coming out," Stacey said.
Kitchen manager Darcy Knickerbocker is also excited to get started.
After months of planning the menu, Knickerbocker finally gets to start kicking out the dishes.
"Our menu is based on sports bar atmosphere," Knickerbocker said. "We want to have some signature items. We’re featuring smokehouse wings that are finished off on the grill. They’re deep fat fried and finished off on the grill. It’s kind of different than anybody else."
There are plenty of sauce options for the wings as well including Big 10 Blazing, Sweet Chili BBQ, Old Bay Dry Rub, Garlic Parmesan, Carolina Gold, Teriyaki and BBQ.
They also have appetizers including waffle fries and beer-battered onion rings.
Although sports will be a key part of Big 10's atmosphere, the Schaefers are confident it will be a fun time until sports resume.
"It was created to be such a social environment that it doesn’t rely on the games that are being aired," Stacey said. "I get the 6 feet apart, but you can still talk to your neighbor. Just because you’re six feet apart doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to talk to other people.
"I get you’re not supposed to mingle, but you can still talk to people. We still want to drive that social atmosphere. We still want people to enjoy their time out. Don’t come out and feel like you have to whisper at your table. You go out for a reason."
Peter Huguenin is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com
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