The owner of the new restaurant and bar, the Rusted Nail, considers the Village of Ashley to be an island that is only 10 minutes away from about everything. Miles Drake and his team are looking to be more of “destination spot.”
“It’s 10 minutes from everywhere,”said Drake. “The outlet mall and I – 71 is only 10 minutes down he road and the way I see it, it’s a hidden gem.”
Drake said one day as he was passing through Ashley to see his father, who had moved to the area a couple of years ago, he saw the building at 115 E. High St. was for sale. The site previously was Popster’s High Street Grill.
“I though there’s not a really good restaurant, bar or tavern around here,” he said. “I thought that if I’m going to do this than now is the time.”
Drake said the area is about to change with Buckeye Valley passing the levy and building a new school in Ashley. “I think the area is really going to grow,” he said. “To get a burger, beer and watch a game you had to drive to Polaris, Marion or Big Walnut.”
Drake isn’t new to the restaurant business, he is the owner of the sports bar and grill Hamilton’s Pub on the edge of New Albany. “I’ve always wanted to build a rusted nail,” he said. “I decided to try out a smaller town to see if it works.”
“I did a little research and found there was a liquor license available that needed to be voted in. We started going door-to-door with a petition getting people to sign it.” Drake said. “It’s been like a year long project for me.”
Drake said they have been open for two and half months and the reception from the people of the area has been great. “They’re shocked when they walk in because when it was Popster’s there never was a bar inside.” he said. “It was just an outdoor bar situation before.”
According to Drake, Ashley’s village council seems to like having the new business in the town. “I spoke with the mayor and they all seem to love it,” Drake said. “We’ve had great reviews – the food is great – the response has been great.”
Drake said he added a bar to the inside, but also kept the idea of the outside bar on the patio. “It was a bar- bones bar on the patio,” he said. “The patio is 2500 square feet. In the summer it can hold quite few people. It folds in during the winter time making it cozy just like a little tavern should be.”
The restaurant seats 205 in the summer and 80 during the winter months. “We’re pretty much specialized in tavern-fair food,” Drake said. “The menu is Americana.”
Drake said there are about 20 flat screen TVs to watch Ohio State games. They also subscribe to the NFL Network.
Drake said, the key to business is getting things worked out so they are consistent. “That way we can put out a consistent product,” he said. “That is what customers expect because without consistency you really won’t have any business.”
Zach Parsley runs the kitchen. He said the menu offers anything from quesadillas, wings and fried foods to salads and wraps. “You come here hungry, we’ll feed you,” he said.
Justin Williams, general manager, said, he runs the “front of the house.”
“I’m still hands on, interacting with servers and bartenders,” he said. “I’ll work three or four shifts behind the bar so I can keep an eye on everything making sure everything is running the way it’s supposed to be.”
Williams said the restaurant employs 18 to 19 people from around the Ashley area. “The plan is to keep it local,” he said.
The restaurant’s clientele comes from as far away as Marysville, Marengo and the Morrow County area. “People are coming from all over, like Delaware and Polaris,” Williams said. “They are coming to check us out.”
“People are talking,” Williams said. “We’ve had a lot of positive reviews. We’re four and a half on Facebook and three out five on Yelp.”
Williams said he hopes patrons are patient while they smooth things out. “It’s hard starting a new business in a random place like Ashley,” he said. “It’s not like in the middle of Columbus or the city of New York.”
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.