Behind Bars: Sarah Arnold at Rehab Tavern

Erica Thompson

At Rehab Tavern, it's common to see a patron or two covered in paint.

"There's [also] a guy who's a welder so he always looks like he's been rolling around in the dirt, but he's been creating art all day," said Sarah Arnold, who began bartending at the Franklinton dive when it opened in December 2012.

"[Franklinton] is an artist community and it's where the artists actually live," she said.

It's no surprise creatives are drawn to the bar, itself a work of art. The name was inspired by the various renovations that took place after owner Brad DeHays purchased the space, formerly Three Deuces Bar. Plus, much of the new décor was "rehabbed" from other items, Arnold said. The wood was taken from an old barn, the floor was created from an old basketball court and the backs of the chairs are decorated with what appear to be local newspaper clippings, among other items.

Local art is displayed throughout the bar and on the patio, where two Columbus artists painted a mural featuring the bar's name surrounded by a colorful arrangement of flowers. "I love to just sit out there and think I'm in the Caribbean," Arnold said.

Arnold also has a background in the arts. She sang in choir and played both flute and French horn in band at her Reynoldsburg high school. She studied interior design for a period at Ohio State University before completing the cosmetology program at the Aveda Institute. However, after a few months in a salon, she realized that career path was not a good fit.

"I was a new stylist … and [the salon] didn't have walk-ins, so it was hard for me. The only appointments were like my mom and my sister and my friends," Arnold said.

All the while she had been bartending on the side, which she enjoyed. "It's so much fun. … You basically are just hanging out with your friends all day," Arnold said. "Everyone comes into the bar to have a good time."

The people who visit Rehab are a diverse bunch. In addition to artists, the bar has hosted frat parties and benefits for patrons in their 60s and older. The entertainment is just as varied. The venue's stage has been graced by comedians, a ukulele band and breakdancers during "The Break," a weekly hip-hop event that takes place each Wednesday.

"Everyone's allowed to be here and everyone gets along," Arnold said.

As for the future of Rehab, Arnold hopes to always see people "relaxing and enjoying themselves." And, while the tater tots are delicious, it'd be nice to offer a more extensive menu.

Her personal goal is simple: "If I'm gonna have to spend time … working, I'd like to enjoy it while I'm doing it."