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KingBar optimistic despite 'cursed' location
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KingBar optimistic despite 'cursed' location


Michael Castellanos knows the history well.

He's aware that for many, the location at 4704 Howard Boulevard must seem cursed at this point. He disagrees.

Castellanos is the latest business owner to try his luck at a spot on the west side of Columbus that has often changed hands with the changing of the seasons.

He opened KingBar about three weeks ago, a new bar and restaurant in a building that's been many things over the decades. The variety of themes, tastes and menus that have occupied the spot could fill out the wide selection found in most major mall food courts.

For long-time residents, they'll identify the building at the end of Howard Boulevard as what used to be Dino's Diner. Dino's had perhaps the longest and most successful run of any.

But not even Dino's lasted. Since then, such startups as Nagasaki Grill & Sushi, Paradise Dance Club and Cafe Di Nonno Italian Restaurant have all tried and eventually shuttered at the log cabin-style structure on the way out of town.

Cafe Di Nonno was the most recent, opening last September before going out of business in just a matter of months.

Castellanos has hear rumors of a former owner possibly involved in the drug trade, he has heard of previous bars in the location having a reputation for fights and disturbances and yet, here he is, the next brave entrepreneur taking a shot.

"It's a challenge to make it work, but even in the first two weeks I can see it making it. It's different," Castellanos said through an interpreter during an interview at KingBar on Friday morning.

"There could have been 600 other businesses here, but that doesn't mean I'll add on to that failure."

Castellanos comes to Columbus via Cuba, then Spain then Mexico. An actor by trade, he first began in the bar business in Spain when he was working theater productions.

He owned a small bar over there before an acting project took him to Mexico. A friend was already living in Columbus when he decided to come north.

"Life just brought me here," Castellanos said. "Changes are always good. Changes are experience. You only live once."

Once he arrived in Columbus, a much, much smaller market than previous stops, acting was sort of put on hold. Castellanos still writes and posts his work online, but making a living required employment at plants such as Cargill and Tyson.

It put food on the table, but wasn't the most fulfilling way to make a living. When he came across friends or former associates from the stage, it was hard to admit he had stepped away and become a 9-to-5 kind of guy.

With a love for entertaining, hence the acting a writing, he began to look into running a bar and restaurant as he had been doing in Spain. The location on Howard Boulevard wasn't his first choice, and wasn't open when he looked, but it just so happened that it was when he came back around.

At that point, Catellanos felt it must have been "meant to be."

"We want every business to succeed, and the fact that there are individuals that want to try a location again and again and again, that's great, and I wish them the best," said Jeanne Schieffer, president of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce. "I want the best for every business, and the Chamber wants the best for every business.

"Columbus is a community that welcomes change and wants people to try these kind of things out. (Columbus residents) are very entrepreneurial and I give (KingBar) kudos for that."

The namesake shares the title of a bar in Havanna, Cuba; owned by some friends. Castellanos always had such a good time there, he wanted to bring a piece of it with him to Columbus.

He admits Spain is preferably where he'd like to be because of the culture and the acting opportunities, but there's also nothing like chasing your dream in America.

"The United States is where all the potential is," Castellanos said. "You're allowed to grow. If you want to do something, if you want to create something, and you have the drive, it's just a matter of being patient. Things eventually work out."

KingBar is open Tuesday through Sunday. Tuesday and Wednesday from noon to 7 p.m., Thursday 7 p.m. - 11 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays until 1 a.m. and on Sunday from 3 p.m. - 8 p.m.

"What's exciting on the west part of town is that I see the fire station and new businesses growing," Schieffer said. "And it's exciting, and why not support those businesses that are trying to give it a go? ... There's a growing base of businesses moving that direction. As the movement goes west, they (KingBar) too could benefit from that.

"We want all businesses to benefit from clientele that reaches that area of town."

Nate Tenopir is the sports editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at


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