After working in the University District at various campus bars including Barrel 44, Toos and Out-R-Inn, Karrio Ballard chose to open his own neighborhood bar and grill – Addella’s on Oak.
After meeting his wife Victoria Hink, the two purchased and developed an empty facility in 1485 Oak St. which would later open as Addella’s on Oak in October 2020, combining the names of their daughters, Andy and Stella. With a flexible regular plant-based menu, live entertainment and a newly issued liquor license, Addella works to serve its community.
However, its launch was not without some challenges, most notably not having a liquor license due to the pandemic. Without the license, their full vision for Addella’s would still not be complete.
“It wasn’t easy and I never sugarcoated it,” Ballard said. “We sold our house to make this happen. We had to do a lot of things that people couldn’t stomach to try to do that, but it was something I believed in.”
With no liquor license, the only alcohol sold was beer and wine. Despite not having a full bar, Addella’s was equipped with a plant-based menu alongside their regular menu, according to Ballard, whose family follows a plant-based diet.
“I feel like when you don’t have that, you’re cutting out a demographic, you know?” Ballard said. “So basically what we wanted to do was take our regular menu and have a plant-based option. Basically, when you look at our menu, almost everything that’s on the regular menu is on the plant-based menu.”
The bar and grill serves a variety of food options from tacos, burgers, clubs and meatballs – all of which can be made plant-based, Ballard said. The restaurant proudly uses the slogan “Serving food you’ve had before like you’ve never had before”.
Patrick Kalista, an Ohio State alum and general manager of Addella’s on Oak, said the plant-based options are helping increase business because of Columbus’ growing vegan population. He said Addella’s is one of the few restaurants listed as plant-based on Uber Eats and DoorDash in the area.
“There aren’t too many options around here,” Kalista said. “That’s what I hear from people all the time, and I’d say sales are almost 50-50 some days. I actually have people who eat meat who now eat plant-based burgers because they say it’s better.”
Addella’s finally received its full liquor license a year after opening with the help of the community.
“I went door to door to get signatures with Karrio and we did all of this with a lot of help from our regular customers who just came out with sheets and got signatures and posted online to help,” Kalista said.
In early 2022, the restaurant began hosting live musicians such as Harmonic Soul — an R&B and soul group — as well as showcasing local artwork. Ballard said this was another way to increase community involvement.
“We have our patrons coming in and now they’ll know the band we’re hosting,” Kalista said. “Or other people who come to see the band, but then they’re like, ‘Oh, you guys are selling food. Oh, you’ve got this.’ And then everyone just helps each other.”
With Ballard having spent time in the University District bar industry, he believes Addella’s menu, art exhibits and music offer something different to students looking to venture into the off-campus neighborhood.
“If you ever want to experience something a little different and the places you’re probably going to be once you graduate, we’re kind of like that next step,” Ballard said.
From the challenge of opening in 2020 to becoming a popular neighborhood bar and grill, Kalista said he’s happy for Ballard and the community that their vision became a reality.
“Addella’s is special to me because we are extremely invested in this neighborhood,” said Kalista. “Put everything into it. Put my whole life on the line. What comes next, I don’t know. We’re really just getting to the point where I finally feel a little grounded.”