Things We Love: John "JJ" Justice's picks

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Like a lot of the Columbusites we feature here, John “JJ” Justice, co-owner and director of operations at downtown coffee hotspot Café Brioso, is more than capable of gushing for hours about the love he has for our city and its potential. His local-love philosophy serves as the backdrop for about everything he loves here. With the Brioso brand extending its reach into Franklinton and down Long Street later this spring and summer, the idea of Columbus becoming a major cultural power in the near future — a goal of JJ’s, no doubt — seems as likely as ever.

Civic Pride

When I first moved here, [there were] a lot more big-box businesses. People used to tell me all the time at the same time, ‘Eh, Columbus is alright.’ All of a sudden, over the last five years we’ve developed all these small businesses that really started to take off. The one difference in people I noticed that are going to these places is that they all love Columbus. I think that this resurgence of things that come from here is really bringing a strong congruency back to our culture and giving us a lot of pride to be here. Other than the Buckeyes, it’s always been hard for people to love something here, and I think we’re finally starting to shine the way we should.

Brothers Drake

Everything in that bar is from Ohio, and I am a huge fan of honey wine. I’ve never had anything that good. It’s because of how long they age it … Just everything in there: their beer, their liquor, everything comes from Ohio. Even their cocktails are great. When they play music, they play multiple styles in a week, and the only thing I notice among all the styles is the quality. And that’s a big-city mindset; when you can navigate all the styles and still have the congruency of awesomeness no matter what style of music — or coffee you’re serving — it shows a level of maturity that’s just awesome to me.

Disc golf

I like playing here, and I’ve played for years. [I] got to play in the Bahamas, got to play all up and down the East coast, from Florida all the way up. I love terrain, so when you start to go 30 minutes outside of Columbus in any direction … you get to great terrains. The foothills, it’s so much fun to play disc golf in them. You got trees, you got rolling hills — it’s absolutely gorgeous. It’s a great way to see park systems; it’s a great way to keep park systems active, too.

Locallymade, water-soluble natural commodities

The idea of that water-soluble flavor being such a value is a trend that I see in places that have been around longer. When you’re in San Francisco and they have much tighter fixed costs there because everything costs so much more, you notice they have a lot more microbrews, coffee experience, things like that that revolve around commodities that are water-soluble … If you just think about the amount of flavors and textures that you can get from that and not the sustenance that comes from it, it’s a lot cheaper for that kind of flavor.


There just needs to be more dance parties. That’s something I’ve always loved and been kind of baffled [at]. When I go to major cities like Chicago, Pittsburgh, anywhere — even Europe — everybody danced. People were not awkward about it. I liken it to public speaking. If you can get up and work a dance floor and get over yourself enough to do it, you’re going to have no problem eventually talking to people. In our field, you need to be comfortable enough with yourself to be able to do things like that.

My daughter

She’s the greatest thing I’ve ever done in my life. She’s the greatest thing I’ve ever been a part of. She’s the reason I stay in Columbus. She’s the reason for many, many things, just trying to give her a quality life and education that will be valuable for her in the future.

John "JJ" Justice

Co-owner/director, Café Brioso