If you blink, you might miss is. Tucked away at 19 N. Pearl St. in downtown Columbus, Ringside Cafe is one of our city's hidden gems. It was empty when I walked in Monday afternoon. My curiosity had been piqued by the elaborately carved stone facade. “This place is old,” I thought as I pulled open the front door. Without having any idea of the purpose of my visit, manager Tim Hartman eagerly filled me in on the history of the quaint watering hole. The second oldest bar in Columbus (behind only the Jury Room), Ringside dates to 1897. Hartman explained that it was once a favorite hangout for politicians and he pointed out the stained glass window that depicts an elephant and a donkey. The story goes that one side or the other would be covered to signify which party was meeting there. There are many other stories associated with Ringside, such as the tunnel that supposedly once connected the tavern to the Statehouse. Ringside's menu serves as a history lesson. Turn it over and read for yourself the tale of “The little saloon with a long history.” In it you'll learn, “The name 'Ringside' was a choice of legendary Al Haft, a former wrestler, who became the city's leading impresario of boxing and wrestling matches. (His arena, 'Haft's Acre,' once was a Downtown landmark in its own right.) You'll also learn that current owner Adrian Rosu strives “to maintain the history and character of The Ringside,” where “the office workers. . . gather to unwind and -wittingly or unwittingly-commune with the ghosts whose spirits still inhabit the (now more than a century old) walls.” Ringside Cafe 19 N Pearl St, Columbus, OH 43215 (614) 228-7464

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