Behind Bars: Vicki Johnson at Q-Stix Billiards

Erica Thompson

Ten years ago, Q-Stix Billiards owner Vicki Johnson spotted a woman stealing from one of her customer's cars. She confronted the woman and called the police as she chased her through the neighborhood. “I'm in pursuit,” she said.

When an officer arrived on the scene, Johnson informed him the woman dropped a bag in a patch of poison ivy. “Get it, Vick,” the officer said. “Finish your job.”

Using her foot, Johnson lifted the bag and placed it in front of the officer.

“[The woman] had been going around the neighborhood stealing pills out of everybody's cars,” Johnson said during a late-June interview at the Linden pub. The woman was the granddaughter of longtime patrons. “When I told the customers that, they didn't press charges.”

Despite that incident, there is rarely any trouble at Q-Stix, which Johnson opened 25 years ago with her husband, Mark. “If you ever see a cop here it's because they have to use the executive office,” she said.

The Johnsons offer the bar as a place for police to use the restroom or eat — they prepare meals to go for the officers — late at night. “And we have a refrigerator in our backyard,” Johnson said. “It's got juices, pops, teas [and] orange juice for the diabetics.”

And once the bar closes, officers are welcome to stop by the Johnsons' house just across the street; the couple can often be found eating dinner on its steps at 3 a.m.

Johnson's interest in the neighborhood goings-on has led to frequent contact with Columbus City Councilman Michael Stinziano. She once took him on a two-hour ride-along, pointing out everything she wanted improved in the neighborhood.

“I always appreciate residents who advocate on behalf of their neighborhood,” Stinziano said in an email toAlive. “Vicki continues to be one of those residents and I remain committed to continuing to work together.”

“The way I introduce myself to people [is]: ‘I'm Vicki Johnson. I own Q-Stix Billiards on Oakland Park [Avenue]. And, yeah, I'm the busybody of the neighborhood,'” Johnson said.

Johnson lent her voice to the call to rebuild the nearly 70-year-old Columbus Fire Station 16, and she is currently pressuring the city to open a more centralized police substation in the area.

But her advocacy isn't always well-received. In February 2016, residents asked Johnson to write aletter to theDispatch proposing the neighborhood name be changed to East Clintonville.

“People older than me didn't [realize] they lived here in Linden,” Johnson said. “It was just a suggestion. And people were going nuts.”

“Now, what's funny [is that] people call Clintonville West Linden,” she added, laughing.