Just trust us on the Thursday thing.
Columbus’ Arena District has been a constant engine of growth for the city, a steady march of new sports and music venues spurring nearby housing and retail development. Betty’s Bar sits in the shadow of wave after wave of city progress, first the city’s hockey arena and associated development, then a new minor league baseball stadium and most recently Columbus’ futuristic home to Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer.
Among these towering city improvements, Betty’s Bar operates out of a small white building that once served as a convenience store before its bar conversion. Current owner and operator Shorty Temple inherited the space from parents Betty & Russ who founded the bar and completed its convenience store transition in 1962. Shorty is supported by daughter Megan, making Betty’s Bar now a three-generation family institution. Little has changed over the years, spot renovations in places mingling with original features like the operational fireplace that sits in the center of Betty’s Bar.
Importantly, the sign outside that reads, “Open when I get here, closed when I leave,” feels like whimsical dive bar humor but is in reality a factually accurate description of the bar’s hours. Thanks to the swarm of live event venues that now border Betty’s Bar, hours are often determined by home games, concerts and other events, Betty’s Bar serving as an affordable pre-game location before being subjected to high price in-venue drinks.
Columbus’ DORA law (Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area) covers the area around Betty’s Bar, meaning that during home games drinks can be purchased from vendors like Betty’s and carried around outside in specially marked cups. Betty’s Bar services these large crowds, particularly during Columbus Crew games, with bar stations inside and out, the cash-only perch along the bar’s back patio the best option for snagging a PBR to go.
Betty’s Bar is also always open on Thursdays, events in the area or not, in part thanks to a decade-old tradition creatively labeled Thong Thursday. The bartender on duty dons a thong for a few extra-happy hours (4 to 8 PM), the kind of dive bar tradition that must be seen to be fully understood. The tradition is bizarre, slightly uncomfortable and absurdly ostentatious, much like a thong. At a time when a now defunct nearby restaurant named Betty’s also operated in Columbus, Betty’s Bar took on the affectionate moniker of “Dirty Betty’s” thanks in part to its Thong Thursday tradition.
Inside, the layout follows the standard dive bar formula of long, simple bar to one side and distributed seating throughout, in this oriented around the fireplace and a few free-floating booth seats near the rear of the space. Mismatched tables, chairs and stools flow through the space as the night progresses, dodging the Betty’s Bar pool table near the front of the main and only room. String lights and a low drop ceiling complete the dive bar vibe underscored by the carpeting that extends into the bar’s bathrooms.
In addition to creative theme nights, Betty’s Bar serves food centered around a signature hamburger as well as a handful of other favorites that can be seen listed on a chalkboard in the space. These offerings rotate but the bar has been known to offer “Meat Twinkies,” corndogs for the uninitiated. There are no taps here, meaning the beer selection leans heavily on domestic favorites and staple liquor brands. A patio out back extends the space, a number of wooden benches and ledges lining an area that spills out onto a few picnic tables bordering the small parking lot (staff only typically) in back.
Betty’s Bar has, thankfully, resisted a number of no doubt high-dollar offers to share a coveted piece of real estate feet away from some of Columbus’ biggest event venues. Its presence, now made all the more important thanks to the city’s friendly open container laws during major events, serves as the perfect pregame, meetup spot across hockey, baseball, live music and especially soccer events in Columbus. And if one of those events coincidentally, accidentally, serendipitously falls on a Thursday, then the city’s most notorious dive bar theme night comes into play.