Behind Bars: Eldorado's Food & Spirits

Erica Thompson
Jacqui Calcara (left) and Nebbie Cassady

If you're a newcomer to Eldorado's Food & Spirits and don't know who Deb and Neb are, it won't take you long to find out. The mother-daughter duo, which purchased the Beechwold establishment in 1993, is pictured in marketing materials — often seated in a red Cadillac Eldorado.

“My mother and I always had a Cadillac and Lincolns,” Nebbie Cassady said in a late-October interview at the bar. “We like cars, but Eldorado is the city of gold … and obviously it's supported my family for 24 years now.”

Prior to operating Eldorado's, Cassady and her mom, Debbie Day, ran Dazzlers Nightclub — now Scores Columbus — on Bethel Road. To remember that time, Cassady need only glance up at the picture of them in matching white suits and headbands that hangs in the bar, where she is still putting in long hours. “Any business owner that's successful knows that they have to be here,” she said.

Day, 71, isn't behind the bar as often, but is still passionate about the business. “We had a retirement party for her, but that lasted about a week,” Cassady said. “She was at home and sitting in her chair watching TV and started getting depressed and said, ‘I can't do this, Nebbie. I need to be interactive with the customers.'”

Cassady, Day and staff are committed to making Eldorado's a warm and special place for customers, whether it's offering pool and dart leagues, hosting karaoke and golf outings, throwing Halloween parties or covering the pool table with free turkey dinners during the holiday season. “We do get a lot of homeless in here that don't have a place to go,” Cassady said. “We're not going to turn them away [on a holiday]. And my mom doesn't turn them away ever.”

The patrons are appreciative and loyal, and that has kept bartender Jacqui Calcara at Eldorado's for six years. “When you hurt, they hurt. When you're happy, they're happy,” she said while waiting on one of her regulars, a blind man who catches the bus to the bar from Obetz every Sunday. “It's way more than just bartending.”

And the bar offers more than just beer, homemade subs and activities; there is also an eclectic mix of live performers, including local blues-rock legend Willie Phoenix, who has been a frequent visitor for about a decade.

“He's very approachable and he calls me ‘starfish,'” Calcara said.

“We have a good name [but] bringing Willie in made our name even better,” Cassady said. “He wants to play on my softball team coming up this next year. … And he wants to [pit] his own team, the band, against Eldorado's. I'm going to hold him to it.”