Off the chain

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Performing and painting took Donald Clark - "D" for short - to Los Angeles for a year. During that time, for one crazy night, he bartended at karaoke bar Brass Monkey. "They ... wound up choosing an all-female staff," Clark said of the short-lived gig.

What was the previous experience on his resume? Two years at the Campus-area Applebee's.

When he came back to town, he slipped back into his former spot. He still paints, writes and creates music, and says he appreciates the chain's surprising flexibility.

"I like to think I'm a good representation of the staff here, in that we don't look at ourselves as cookie cutters," Clark said.

Since it's Applebee's, people might have an idea of what they're getting into here, but how would you describe it?

At this particular Applebee's, we like to consider ourselves the Applebee's of Columbus, rather than "an" Applebee's of Columbus.

We like to consider ourselves the unique monster in the Applebee's chain: the party store, the rock-star store, the store where Ohio State football players come in, and Ohio State basketball players come in, and coaches come in, and teams come in, where we've had regulars for 10 years.

So you get a lot of Campus traffic?

We get a huge demographic in here. I mean, we hit families and we have college kids. And it makes for a really fun environment, especially between - well, happy hour's from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.!

That's not just a happy hour.

That's a happy day!

Is this a career or a money-maker for you?

This is just a steady income. But it's great. I feel like I come to work and it's my job to kind of hang out. I know everyone who walks through the door, and they all know me.

Is there anything you find challenging about it?

When it gets so busy that you don't stop moving for four, five, six, seven hours.

What about making drinks?

Drinks are easy. Pssh.

I've got this one girl that comes in, she comes in with her boyfriend, and they'll leave if I'm not here. And all she asks me to do is make up a martini. Every single time. So I just make one up, and she'll say, "Well, what is this?" I go, "I don't know. I just made it up." "It's the best thing I've ever had in my entire life. You should own a bar!"

Where do you like to go for drinks?

After work, there's this little hole-in-the-wall in the shopping center called Woody's. We always go down there.

Applebee's Neighborhood Bar & Grill

480 Ackerman Rd., Campus