Every time we go to Understory in Old North, I find myself asking, “Why aren’t we here all the time?” The multi-level bar, lounge, and event space from Wolf’s Ridge Brewing inhabits most of the beautifully renovated Open Air School building at Hudson and Neil Avenues. The project just won the top award from the Columbus Landmarks for the preservation of an historic structure, and rightfully so.
The Open Air School was built nearly a century ago for students at risk of tuberculosis. It served in various capacities, including administrative buildings for Columbus City Schools, before being converted into restaurants, event spaces, and studios. (You can read more about it here.) My favorite element is how well they preserved the school building, so the hallways and lockers, doors and signage, stairwells and restrooms all bring back memories of my elementary school.
Definitely worth noting: in addition to Understory, one of the front sections of the building is Emmett’s Cafe, a terrific spot for coffee, breakfast, or lunch.
The Lounge sits upstairs, and is a single, large room with a curving bar in the center.
Throughout the space are various types seating: small tables, couches and plush chairs, little curving booths.
The Lounge features cocktails, wine, and beer, plus food options that span snacks, small plates, and large plates, as well as weekly features. You’ll find about 15 or so different dishes, ranging in price from $7-$16.
Downstairs is the Commons + Patio. The Commons uses counter service. Guests order, grab a number, then find a seat in the smaller dining room or the expansive stone patio.
Obviously the patio is the real selling point of the Commons. It’s surrounded by tall trees, has a firepit in the center, and offers you a full view of the historic building.
On both dining levels, it’s no surprise that Wolf’s Ridge beers are heavily featured.
The menu at the Commons is similar to the Lounge, although with a few more items. It’s open for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch.
We’ve been impressed with everything we’ve tasted at both the Commons and the Lounge. At the Commons you’ll find interesting bar snacks, sandwiches, large plates, and dessert, ranging from $7-$18.
The real kicker: Understory sits just off the Olentangy Trail, so you could bike your way to drinks, snacks, or brunch!