Blind Lady Tavern to open in former Jury Room space

Beth Stallings, Columbus Crave

When meatball-slinging 1831 Tavern closed at the end of July, Seth Laufman didn't let the historic tavern space near the corner of East Mound and High streets sit dormant for long. The Athens native always had visions of opening his own place. And a building with claims as the longest-running bar in Columbus history was the perfect fit.

On Monday, Aug. 31, Laufman will open Blind Lady Tavern-a pre-Prohibition-themed bar-at 22 E. Mound St. "We're really tapping into the 19th century, pre-Prohibition, saloon vibe," says Laufman, who returned to Ohio in January after a 10-year stint in San Francisco where he bartended at and managed spots like Comstock Saloon-a turn-of-the-century saloon and cocktail bar. "It's got the same kind of vibe [as the former Jury Room]. [Comstock] is the city's second oldest bar."

Laufman's changed little of the atmosphere, holding on to the dark wood and striped wallpaper. He wants Blind Lady Tavern to be a spot where everyone feels comfortable-whether you're in for a craft cocktail or a shot and a beer.

He's also encouraged by the revitalization of Downtown, including the growth of Fourth and Main streets and the forthcoming apartments just up the street. The area needs a good bar, he says. "Location-wise, we're in the heart of it all," he says. "I want to give people a reason to come back here."

Blind Lady Tavern will open serving drinks and a limited snack menu that includes charcuterie, cheese and pickled items. Laufman is still searching for a chef to produce inspired comfort food.

"For drinks, we're sticking to a list of classics and then some house creations," he says. One such concoction is the Frances Miller-mezcal, Liquor 43, lemon and IPA. All drinks are named in ode to the history of the building or legal jargon. (Even the tavern name, Blind Lady, is an ode to blindfolded Lady Justice.) Miller was the woman known for running a brothel in the back room. Legend also holds that Miller haunts the space.

Daily rotating punches will also be available by the glass or bowl to share. There will also be formal absinthe service. "I want to get people to sit down, try it and talk to each other," Laufman says.

Forthcoming happy hour specials will include a shot and a beer, and build-your-own drinks where guest choose the style (like a ricky or fizz) and the spirit, and the bartender takes it from there.

Blind Lady Tavern will be open Monday through Saturday from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.