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100: The Greatest, Weirdest, Worst, Funniest, and Most-Important Stories of 2O15

1. Love Wins, Again 

One of the biggest cultural landmarks of our time, the June SCOTUS ruling on marriage equality was a national story, but it rippled to and from the city’s borders. The Saturday before the decision, gay rights activist and Supreme Court case plaintiff Jim Obergefell served as the Grand Marshal of Stonewall Columbus’s Pride Parade. A week laterthe weekend immediately following the Obergefell rulingComFest served as the backdrop for one of the movement’s most arresting viral images: young Zea Bowling holding up a rainbow flag while
facing down a street preacher.

2. A Drunken Week Lasts Nine Days

The inaugural Columbus Craft Beer Week kicked off in May, and Central Ohio now has so many upstart breweries that the “week” went from May 1-9. There were no complaints about the loose interpretation of a week.

3. We’ll Take A GenuineBudMiller Light, Please

Speaking of beer, Budweiser somehow found a way to get bigger when its parent company InBev reached a tentative $106 billion deal to take over SABMiller. No word yet on whether the brewery on Schrock will use the South African, English, or South American recipe for Natty.

4. More Beer Wars!

In response to Budweiser’s Super Bowl ad making fun of craft beer snobs, Smokehouse Brewing issued a new beer, Fussy Sipper Pumpkin Peach Ale. That’s a solid burn, and it probably cost a fraction of Super Bowl ad airtime.

5. We’re Not As Think As You Drunk We Are 

With the ongoing craft beer boom in Columbus (another one opened while you were reading this sentence), we want a microbrewery to start making truly shitty craft beer. We demand a Fussy Beast!

6. What The Hell Is A Taxi?

If you happen to overindulge in all this craft brew, luckily Uber has officially taken over the city with its premium “car service,” which isn’t in any way exactly the same as a taxi.

7. Shadowbox Buys In 

In November, after more than 20 years of entertaining Columbus audiences with a wide variety of live shows and performances, Shadowbox announced the troupe’s intention to spend $5 million and purchase the space in the Brewery District.

8. Clippers Win The Governor’s Cup

9. 10. 11. 12. Let’s Get Casual

The rise of fast-casual cuisine continued in a big way in 2015 with the opening of 6-1-Pho, which offers takes on Vietnamese favorites, and Brassica, the Mediterranean concept from the owners of Northstar Café. Proven restaurants like Bibibop and Piada added momentum to the trend with local and national expansion.

13. Baby Got Fatback

Speaking of trends, bacon continued its seemingly unstoppable ascent to America’s favorite food item. As covered on page 52, it even inspired the creation of a food venture based solely on its delicious versatility, 1803 Bacon.

14. Bill Glover Goes To The Beard   

In September, Chef Bill Glover from Gallerie Bar and Bistro went to the famed James Beard House in New York City. He brought along a team of culinary talents to help him prepare a six-course meal meant to showcase Central Ohio ingredients and solidify Columbus’s standing as an up-and-coming Midwestern capital of cuisine.

15. Travolta Fever

Did you see him? Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God! Was he doing something awesome and totally Hollywood? Yeah, he was probably doing something awesome and totally Hollywood.

Photo by Randall Schieber

Photo by Randall Schieber








16. A (Different) River Runs Through It

It’s not every year that a city just up and moves a damn river. As covered this past spring in the three-part series “Columbus Upstream” by our very own Jeni Ruisch, the Scioto Greenways project was the culmination of a much larger 13-year restoration and restructuring of both the Olentangy and Scioto rivers. Wildlife was relocated, channels were rerouted, and low-head dams were removed. The official unveiling of 33 acres of picturesque riverfront greenspace on November 10 was merely the final hurrah in a long and expensive redevelopment effort.

17. What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?

In a massive online crowdfunding campaign, CD102.5 raised money to negotiate a renewal of its lease—or possibly to purchase its broadcasting license outright—and strengthen its financial situation and independence. Though the campaign raised more than $200,000, it fell short of the $1 million goal and the $5 million stretch goal.

18. A Big Bar With A Radio Problem

The crowdfunding campaign wasn’t the only noise that CD102.5 made this year, as the station also converted its space for live radio shows into the Big Room Bar, a music-themed restaurant, bar, and live venue. If owner Randy Malloy adds some cheap rooms, it’ll be like Columbus’s own badass, all-inclusive music resort.

19. What Time Does the Train Get Here?

It’s 75 years late.
Just saying.

20. Orange Barrels Overtake The City

It’s pretty cliché to complain about traffic, but the downside of Columbus’s recent success and growth is the city seemed especially overrun with construction and brake lights in 2015. You know what would help? A f*cking train.

21. The Number-One Pilots

Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun, aka Twenty One Pilots, issued their new release, Blurryface, on May 18, and it immediately debuted at number one on the Billboard charts. The Columbus band’s fourth album moved 147,000 copies in its first week.

22. It’s Pronounced MAH-fray

In March, Columbus Crew SC renamed its home turf Mapfre Stadium after signing a rights deal with Mapfre Insurance. Weird, yes, but as of press time the team had fought through to the conference finals against New York, so maybe the name is giving the boys in black and gold some extra mojo.

23. Listeria Is Not A Delicious New Flavor

It was a rough year for Jeni. The ice cream maven had to close production facilities and retail locations after listeria was detected in the ice cream in April. Jeni’s issued a recall, destroyed more than half a million pounds of ice cream, and cleaned its facilities, only to find more of the dangerous food-borne bacteria a couple weeks later. The shops finally reopened in mid June after Smith Dairy partnered with Jeni’s to produce the ice cream in its facilities in Orrville.

24. 25. 26. Barcades Go Boom

As covered in our November issue, barcades have taken off in Columbus in the last few years. Arcade Super Awesome, Level One, and Old North Arcade have already opened in 2015, and Brewcadia is scheduled to begin welcoming gamers above Barley’s any time.

27. Coleman Says Goodbye

For many Columbus residents, Michael Coleman is the only mayor they’ve ever known. He is the longest-serving mayor in city history and was the first African-American elected to the post in 1999. He announced late last year that he wouldn’t seek reelection, and now the end of the Coleman era has finally come. In early 2016, he will turn over the city’s keys to his (not-at-all handpicked) successor, Andy Ginther. It’s a bittersweet moment for Columbus because even those who didn’t agree with Coleman’s politics can see that the city has grown and prospered while he was in office. He was kind enough to write us a nice essay for our five-year anniversary last year, and he hasn’t yelled at us (at least to our faces) about any of the jokes we told at his expense over the years. So for that at least—cheers Mike.

28. But It Was A Scandalous Farewell

Coleman probably didn’t imagine his last year would go the way it did. Rather than a nice victory lap, he was caught up in several different allegations and scandals. The 2010 sale of the mayor’s home to a Chinese businesswoman named Jianhua Li came under scrutiny from the FBI, and some people in the administration said they were instructed to give her special help related to her business. In a separate case, the CEO of the red light camera company Redflex pled guilty to bribing public officials in Columbus through campaign donations made by lobbyist John Raphael. One of the officials initially connected to the scandal was city council president and the Coleman-endorsed future mayor Andy Ginther. Raphael eventually pled guilty to “interference with commerce,” and city attorney Rick Pfeiffer issued a report that stated the Redflex contracts were awarded in accordance with city code, though it didn’t touch on the issue of campaign contributions.

29. The Joseph Opens

The much-anticipated boutique hotel opened in the Short North in January and offered residents another chance to check out art from the Pizzuti Collection, which adorns the public space.

30. Welcome to Cameron’s New House

A polished new eatery from Cameron Mitchell opened in the same building as The Joseph and serves as its in-house restaurant. The Guild House features a farm-to-table theme and further entrenches CMR’s stake in the Short North, as it looks across the street at Marcella’s and The Pearl.

31. He’s On Fire!

Elsewhere in the Short North, the owners of the Pint House unveiled Forno, a swanky restaurant and bar with a gigantic stone-fired oven. Owner Chris Corso also announced that his real estate company has purchased and planned to renovate four buildings on High Street between Third and Fourth avenues.

32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39 There’s Always Next Year, Again 

After a promising run at the end of last season, the Blue Jackets started this season at a historically awful 0-8. Here, we devote one space for each of those early season losses. After firing coach Todd Richards, CBJ brought in John Tortorella, an outspoken and at times controversial coach who has a Stanley Cup to his name. As of press time, the team had improved its record somewhat to 8-14.

40. Scruby Dooby Doo

When Kendrick Lamar came to the LC in October, there was plenty of excitement for the acclaimed MC’s show, but people might have glanced right past the opener, Ohio State grad Cal Scruby, a rapper getting plenty on attention of his own accord.

41. Rolling Stones Play Their 4 Billionth Show in the Shoe

The Stones clearly plan to keep it 100 until they are literally 100

42. In Other News About Stones

Stone Brewing debated opening its East Coast brewery in Columbus, but ultimately decided in favor of Richmond, Virginia (presumably after someone showed them a map)

43. 44. 45. Suburban Beer Boils Up

The Stone decision wasn’t all bad news, though, as the increased attention and kind words from its founders helped nudge Scotland’s BrewDog toward placing its first North American brewery in Canal Winchester. The move highlighted a round of breweries that have opened in the suburbs recently, like Pigskin Brewing Company in Gahanna in February and Temperance Row Brewing in Westerville late last year.

46. The CMA Gets A Facelift

As covered on page 28, the Columbus Museum of Art finally finished the last phase of its massive three-part makeover. The redevelopment allowed CMA to exhibit more of the public’s favorites from its huge permanent collection.

47. Local Jumps The Shark

The local movement has been great, and obviously (614) has plenty of love for all things Columbus, but there seems to be a misunderstanding about what it means to be “local” and “sustainable” in some cases. For example, if your whole menu is avocados and pineapple and crab legs don’t tell us your restaurant is locally sourced because the parsley is from your garden. We’ll take two orders of the crab legs, though. Just because it’s not from Ohio doesn’t mean it can’t be delicious.

48. 49. 50. 51. 52. What’s Poppin’?

This year quickly became the year of the pop-up restaurant. The widely popular Dinner Lab from New Orleans came to town, and Hai Poke’s island-style street food became a regular fixture at Oddfellows and Denmark on High. The Commissary also held frequent pop-up events, like Aaron Mercier’s Game of Thrones-inspired dinner, A Parliament of Rooks, and Bill Glover’s homage to music and cuisine called FM: Food and Wine. On December 9, Lara Pipia, Jen Burton, and Challah’s Catie Randazzo will hold Seven Fishes at Seventh Son, a traditional Italian Christmas Eve feast.

53. I Want To Ride My Bicycle!

After years of work by local advocates, more dedicated bike lanes are finally starting to appear on city streets, notably all along the restructured Summit and Fourth streets.

54. Cabot’s Curtain Call

On December 18, the longtime NBC anchor will retire after 30 years of delivering the news to Central Ohio.

55. We Smart!

Columbus won the Intelligent Community Forum’s award for the 2015 Intelligent Community of the Year. Suck it, Pittsburgh.

56. Bucks Win The First College Football Playoffs!

In one of the most unlikely and thrilling runs in college football history, the Buckeyes overcame injuries to its starting and second-string quarterbacks and ran through Alabama and Oregon en route to the CFP championship. Thanks to stellar performances from third-stringer Cardale Jones, MVP Zeke Elliott, Devin Smith, Darron Lee, and the entire offensive line, they hoisted the trophy for the first time since another improbable victory in 2003.

57. The Birth Of A Two-Headed Monster

As the champagne aftereffects of the championship wore off, Buckeyes fans were even more excited about the possibilities of the 2015 season when Jones decided to come back to school, seemingly sealing the team’s status as the one to beat. However, in juggling the two different QB styles and transitioning Braxton Miller to a wide receiver, the team has struggled all year to find its play-calling rhythm or an offensive identity.

58. The Last Dispatch

The city’s last daily newspaper was sold for $47 million to the New Media Investment Group in New York after 110 years of local ownership by the Wolfe family. This is the prevailing trend across the country; as you can tell from the emojis, we don’t think it’s good.

59. Double Feature

Studio 35 received approval on its plans to add another screen and a second-story addition.

60. CMH Gets Fly

The multi-year, $80 million renovation at Port Columbus is drawing to a close by early next year, but it was announced this year that an entirely new $1.3 billion terminal complex will be needed by 2030.

61. An Expensive Case Of Beer

In order to legally transfer a liquor license to wKroger for $3 million in July, Huffman’s Market also had to throw in a shelving unit and a 24-pack of Miller Lite. Must have been a nice shelf.

62. 63. 64. 65. 66. 67. 67. 69. Downtown Columbus Not Just A Place Everyone Drives By Anymore

The development of the downtown area has been years in the making, but 2015 appeared to be a major step forward. Mikey’s Late Night Slice unveiled its first full-service restaurant on Fourth Street, just down the block from the new Red Velvet Café. Cravings Café launched a successful Kickstarter to move its store to Front Street. Blind Lady Tavern took over the old Jury Room space, and The Walrus, a bar and music venue, opened on East Main. Salt & Pine just set up shop in the 250 High building; Lomonico’s second location is scheduled to open any time; and the Brewery District welcomed a hybrid entertainment concept called Copious / Notes.

70. Someone Should Probably Warn Bar 23

With its new Stack City Burger Bar, Hyde Park Restaurant group appears to be making a play to dominate the entire Cap, as it now controls four of the five establishments there.

71. Cuisine Comes Home

After eight years serving fine French cuisine, L’Antibes closed and revamped its concept, emerging as Homefare, a restaurant focused on an approachable Midwestern menu of comfort food.

72. Rigsby’s Closes

In a shocking development, Kent Rigsby announced the closing of Rigsby’s Kitchen suddenly in November. The storied restaurant was one of the founding institutions to take root in the Short North 29 years ago as it began its redevelopment.

73. 74. 75. The New, New Short North

As made clear by the surprising Rigsby’s announcement, the Short North is undergoing widespread change. Though there’s plenty of growth, as it has continued its transition from an artistic but rough neighborhood into a shopping and nightlife district, some of the mainstay businesses have fallen on hard times or been forced out. The celebrated Surly Girl Saloon closed earlier this year, and Bink Davies announced that it must relocate. La Fogata will be leaving its current location due to increased rent when the lease expires in April.

76. The Hottest Fowl Around

Has there ever been a more aptly named restaurant than Hot Chicken Takeover? The Nashville-style fried bird eatery was everywhere this year, including founder Joe DeLoss’s appearance on Rachael Ray’s show.

77. RIP Aminah

In May, Aminah Robinson passed away at the age of 75. She was a MacArthur genius fellow, and one of the greatest artists in city history. She will be missed.

78. The Buck Stops

Another big loss for our city, as former mayor Dana “Buck” Rinehart succumbed to pancreatic cancer just six days shy of his 69th birthday.

79. The Bottoms Continues Its Rise

A 69-unit apartment building was approved for construction near 400 West Rich, and the first set of plans emerged for the mixed-use redevelopment of the former Riverside-Bradley public housing site. The two projects represent the renewed interest in the East Franklinton neighborhood, though neither had broken ground as of late November.

80. Leo Takes The Lead

For 20 years, Leonardo DiCaprio has been pursuing a role in a film about the life of Billy Milligan, a Central Ohio man who was the first to successfully use multiple personality disorder as a defense in a trial. In February, The Hollywood Reporter announced that DiCaprio was expected to take the lead part in that movie, The Crowded Room.

81. Crampin’ Campus Style

We all know OSU is off in its own little world most of the time, but for the city’s alums, High Street got a little less nostalgic this year with the announcements that four classic watering holes—including legendary basement dive Too’s—would be closing their doors soon.

82. 83. Growing Up

Both of Columbus’s big names in liquor distilling, Middle West Spirits and
Watershed, are currently undertaking large expansion efforts to keep up with demand.

84. Bodhi, Buddy

There’s no real news here, we just wanted to point out that CBC’s Bodhi still exists and it’s still great. Move along.

85. FMMF And The Femmes

In its second year, Fashion Meets Music Festival switched to a more conventional two-day ticketed format. Meanwhile, the grassroots event FemmeFest, which sprung from FMMF’s R. Kelly booking in 2014, raised thousands of dollars for local women’s charities.

86. The King of Kings

WWE wrestler Triple H was inducted into the International Sports Hall of Fame at the Arnold Sports Festival in March. He gave a moving speech and then smacked the shit out of nine different people.

87. The Worst Game Of Monopoly Ever

In a historic vote this fall, Ohio chose to shoot down the controversial Issue Three initiative that would have legalized marijuana via a plan that was pegged by its opponents as a monopoly. Meanwhile, voters chose to pass Issue Two, which will add a requirement for an extra vote on any citizen-initiated ballot amendment that the ballot board deems to be a monopoly, oligopoly, or cartel. Ian James and backers of Issue Three have vowed to return with another amendment next year, and another group known as Legalize Ohio 2016 is also aiming for next year’s ballot.

88. We Got Issues

In addition to the flurry of attention for Issues Two and Three, voters passed Issue One, which reforms the way the legislature draws our gerrymandered districts. It’s a step in the right direction, though it’s hard to say how meaningful it will be.

89. The Vice President Of Conventions

Columbus made a valiant effort to win the affections of the Democratic National Committee, but in the end, the Dems left us jilted at the political altar for the City of Brotherly Love. What was it, DNC? You know Paddy’s Pub is fictional, right? Come back. We’ll take you to Mike’s Grill.

90. Kasich Not A Complete National Embarrassment

Yet. Thanks for upping the bar on political and cultural gibberish, Trump and Carson.

91. Pay Homage  

Around here, we wear our city pride on our sleeves, in no small part due to Homage, the city’s uber-popular, Ohio-themed apparel company. This year, people outside 270 got a bigger dose of the brand when it teamed up with ESPN and ESPNW for specialized lines.

92. The Sip And Stroll

A bill passed the Ohio House that would allow customers to drink while they shop at the North Market. So make a move, Ohio Senate.

93. Columbus Is The New Black

Award-winning author and real-life inspiration for the Netflix hit Orange Is the New Black, Piper Kerman now calls Columbus home. She’s currently teaching at two different correctional facilities in Central Ohio, and her husband Larry Smith is leading his Six in the City project.

94. We Made The List(s)! 

We’re pretty proud (perhaps overly so) of making the Top 10 of just about any list the Internet feels like creating. Columbus once again made what seemed like an endless number of lists this year, like best city to golf, shop, find a tech job, and have a hipster haircut.

95. What’s The Score?!

Columbus hosted its first NHL All-Star Weekend this past January, and the two teams set a scoring record—17-12. The Browns are jealous of both those totals.

96. Coffee For A Cause

The Roosevelt Coofeehouse finally opened earlier this year, and in addition to being another proof point for the city’s status as a java hub, it also provides funds to support clean water projects and fight poverty and human trafficking.

97. Loft of Luxury

The city seemed to be filled from corner to corner with construction for new luxury apartment buildings this year. Like a weird amount. Italian Village is basically one large urban loft
complex now.

98. 99. Happy Anniversary!

This year marked 60 years in business for The Top and 90 for Grandview Café, which was also sold to the owner of Bodega in November.

100. The $1OO Million Ride

In what has become a fundraising juggernaut, Pelotonia collected more than $23 million in the first year under former Livestrong CEO Doug Ulman. The nonprofit has now raised more than $100 million in its seven-year history.