5 O'Clock Somewhere: Contact

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Frog Bear & Wild Boar has survived nearly a decade as a fun spot to hit before and after Arena District events. It hosts live music, serves food, offers decent drink specials and is generally known as a big room with a little bit of everything.

To sharpen its identity in a more difficult marketplace, owners decided they needed something newer, prettier, more upscale and slightly more exclusive. What resulted is Contact, a small lounge situated in the back of Frog Bear's 12,000-square-foot Arena District warehouse.

You might remember the space behind the steel garage doors as a late-night overflow annex or, more recently, a secretive tiki bar that closed about a year ago. The latest incarnation, opened Jan. 21, is the most intriguing so far.

Accessible through Frog Bear or from an entrance on Front Street, Contact is two connected rooms with a pair of bars, food and bottle service and a distinct lounge vibe far different from its nearby big brother. (Cover starts around $5, and the bar's 21 and up.)

Rough-hewn brick, exposed ductwork and thick, red curtains lend the space a more contemporary feel, and the staff revamped multimedia components to make it a late-night dance destination.

"I'm an old guy from the lights-and-smoke era," manager Brad Thacker said. "The lights and sound in here are off the hook - and I don't use that phrase that often."

Intense laser-like beams, smoke machines and a large dance floor define the first room, which is clear get-down territory. Contact has enlisted DJ Bombay, whose resume includes appearances at Lollapalooza and Coachella, to spin everything from hip-hop and electro to Latin funk and soul.

If there's a hiccup in your giddy-up, head to a second room, which boasts a second bar and seclusion from any dance-floor battling. A series of couches, cube seats, low-lying tables and down-tempo lighting will let you catch your breath and grab a bite.

Plates to share include Tuscan Flatbread ($9), Spicy Beef Sliders ($7) and Lettuce Wraps ($10). A slate of fruity martinis, bottled beer and wine is available.

For a more Diddy-like way to wet your whistle, Contact offers extensive bottle service. Bubbly runs from $30 to $500, and personal bottles of Jack Daniels, Skyy, Bacardi and other selections start at $150.

"Contact is for people who want to be in a relaxed environment with great service," Thacker said.


343 N. Front St., Arena District


Web: contactcolumbus.com

Hours: 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Thursday-Saturday

In short: Frog Bear's much-needed niche

Did you know?

Frog Bear & Wild Boar resides in the Moline Plow Building, which was built in 1913 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Over the years, the space has been used for making farm equipment, fashioning military supplies and housing paper archives for Nationwide Insurance.