Behind Bars: What's in the cards for The Oracle?

Erica Thompson
Front row: Bobby Silver and Faith Pierce Back row: Matt Waite and Carolyn Dever

On June 23, The Oracle co-owner Bobby Silver posted a Jean-Bertrand Aristide quote on the bar's Instagram account: “If one suffers we all suffer. Togetherness is strength. Courage.” Two days later, a wall caved in.

It was one in a series of mishaps Silver and his business partner, Faith Pierce, have faced since opening the establishment in Olde Towne East on May 23. “Well, the opening weekend we had two employees get hit by cars,” Silver said. “One employee had a seizure. Our food truck guy had a stroke.”

Once the air conditioner broke, Silver and Pierce closed the bar and reopened at the end of May.

Also owners of two Yellow Brick Pizza locations and Arcade Super Awesome, the formerly married pair is used to adversity. “After seven or eight years, you just get beat down into acceptance of crisis after crisis,” Pierce said. “Over time I have learned to go with the flow. … And when it comes to a point where I can't do anything else, there is no reason to worry.”

Despite setbacks, The Oracle has drawn an eclectic crowd, which brings back memories of other beloved Columbus institutions.

“After the Carabar had shut down and after Double Happiness shut down, there wasn't any place for a lot of … countercultural stuff: rock bands, rap groups and everything in between,” Silver said. While Silver doesn't consider The Oracle a proper venue, he does curate shows in the lounge area, which was recently packed during a set by Nick Tolford.

“That's what gives me goosebumps, is when you see just a lot of people getting together that are all very different, liking the same thing,” Silver said.

But there are a variety of drink options for different tastes and budgets, ranging from cheap beers to inventive cocktails. Current features are bartender Carolyn Dever's Elderflower Spritz ($7) with Pulsar cider, and Matt Waite's Metal Bird ($10) with black strap rum and amaro ferro-kina liquor with iron ore.

The bar is also an “unofficial portrait museum,” with pencil drawings by Silver, as well as other pieces by Leigh Cox and Meagan Alwood. Patrons will recognize celebrities such as Method Man, as well as local rappers Blueprint — Silver played bass for him on tour — and the late Nes Wordz.

“Before I knew that he rapped, I was friends with him,” Silver said of Wordz. “We miss him dearly, so we just try to keep him around.”

“There's a lot of family members present, watching over the bar,” Silver said of the other photos. “And that's the concept behind The Oracle. … These people in your life that move you, that motivate you, that inspire you to be who you are.”

This article has been updated to clarify The Oracle employees had been hit by cars, not bikes. Alive regrets the error.