Steel tip darts and beer, what could go wrong?
Off-campus living for Ohio State students is roughly divided into north campus and south campus districts, each with their own ecosystems, bars, pizza places and the like. Ledo’s Tavern serves as the de facto pizza and dart bar for north campus students, its location part of Columbus’ Old North district that straddles Ohio State and semi-suburb Clintonville further north.
Though conflicting sources exist pegging the founding of Ledo’s Lounge at that time somewhere between 1954 and 1959, it remains clear that brothers Wedo and Leno Bevilacqua opened the High Street institution around that time. Combining their first names to christen the name of the bar, its proximity to campus immediately earned it steady business that included a number of student athletes. Stories of Jerry Lucas, Bobby Knight, John Havlicek and others frequenting Ledo’s back room still add to the Columbus dive bar’s mystique.
Ownership has shifted over the years, Leno selling his portion of the partnership in 1979 and Wedo ultimately passing away in 2017 at the age of 93 after doing the same. Today, a triumvirate of Chris Huda, Lindie Schweitzer and husband Scott Schweitzer run Ledo’s Tavern as part of a stable of Columbus bars that includes Park Street Tavern, City Tavern and Flatiron Tavern. Pizza has long been a part of the Ledo’s Tavern experience, at one time flipping to operation by Columbus mainstay Mikey’s Late Night Slice before transitioning to what is now Ledo’s Pizza Co.
With the sale of Ledo’s Tavern in 2011 to its current owners, a set of renovations followed that focused on revamped surfaces throughout, taking what was then weathered wooden panels throughout and replacing them with updated models. The result is a bit more polished of a dive bar experience than the previous Ledo’s Tavern incarnation, but the funky floor plan remains intact, pool room in back, centralized bar and long secondary space that runs the full length of the building’s north wall.
And that secondary space houses what is probably the Ledo’s Tavern signature feature, a row of dart boards that serves as the bar’s center of gravity most nights. Steel-tip boards line nearly the full length of the long room, ample drinking ledges and low tables provided to support the beers of those playing. Because of the multiple available boards, serious players with their own darts are sometimes attracted to Ledo’s Tavern, but for us normal folks, loaner darts are available at the bar.
The bar’s main space hosts a series of events, including the occasional ticketed live band, though cover charges are rare. Trivia, karaoke and even Bingo have been known to take place atop the wide stage that sits next to the windowed front wall of the Columbus dive bar. Hightop tables and stools dot the space, pulled away when weekend evening crowds swell thanks to the considerable student population that frequents Ledo’s Tavern. Given its proximity to Ohio State’s campus, it comes as no surprise that the walls are covered with framed photos of Ohio State athletes, moments and magazine covers.
Sometimes overlooked completely is the Ledo’s Tavern back room that houses a pair of pool tables and a row of pinball and arcade games. The entrance to the adjoining Ledo’s Pizza Co. can also be found here, pizzas sold in full or by the slice to those drinking inside or grabbing to go. All told, in a part of Columbus with an intriguing mix of record stores, barcades and pizza spots, Ledo’s Tavern serves as a vintage anchor, a renovated but spiritually intact campus dive bar with enough dart boards and on-demand pizza slices to set it apart.