|By Jeff Long
Of all the complaints and rumors
floating around about Campus Partners, this is the one that's really
got campus denizens up in arms:
They're going to tear down Larry's.
It sounds like fear-mongering born of too
many Black Labels: Larry's, a watering hole of the campus
counterculture for decades, a victim of Campus Partners;
"It's the kind of place that creates
the kind of felling among people--they'll go out and lay down in
front of the bulldozers," said attorney Jim McNamara, a Larry's
"I guarantee you, there is no other
aspect of the university plan that would guarantee as much
opposition as the destruction of Larry's," said Edward Pfau, an
attorney who used to live above Larry's.
Lawyers aren't the only ones who frequent
Larry's, sucking down cheap beer and soaking up Larry's singular
atmosphere. Larry's has always been the campus bar for people who
hate campus bars.
The Paoletti family--which still owns
Larry's--opened the joint in 1934 as the Lawrence Grill at Woodruff
Avenue and High Street. The decor hasn't changed much--a worn
mahogany bar, linoleum floor, pool table in the corner, graffitoed
booths along one wall. Nor has the clientele--poets, musicians,
slumming Ohio State professors, street people, record store
The old myth about Larry's is that it's a
"fag" bar, a tale perpetuated by Larry's regulars trying
to keep out undesirable elements.
Pfau, who represents the Paolettis, said
the owner's son, Danny, called him earlier this summer after hearing
a rumor that Lary's demolition wa part of Campus Partners' overhaul.
Danny Paoletti saw a Campus Partners plan, Pfau said, that showed
Woodruff Avenue--which now dead-ends at High before jogging to the
east--plowing straight through Larry's and the adjacent BW-3
Campus Partners is funded
primarily by Ohio State--part of President E. Gordon Gee's plan to
clean up the neighborhood around his university.
Pfau said he contacted Steve Sterrett,
Campus Partners' community relations director, and asked him about
the plan. "he said, 'It's a long-term plan, nothing to worry
about, Pfau said.
Pfau started worrying. He's mobilized a
force of Larry's regulars that will hold its first meeting later
this month to stop this thing in its tracks.
"If they tell me, 'It's long-term,'
well, our organization is long-term," Pfau said. "We're
going to continue to monitor this."
Sterrett takes the blame for what he calls
"misinformation" about Larry's demise. A transportation
consultant hired by Campus Partners, he said, recommended
straightening Woodruff Avenue to improve east-west access.
The street would have gone through the
Wendy's parking lot to the south, not the building housing Larry's,
Sterrett said. "We don't have any plan to tear down Larry's. We
do have an idea to straighten out Woodruff, but it's not a high
University Area Commission President Howard
Skubovius is a harsh critic of Campus Partners, though he's a
co-chair of its Community Advisory Council.
He says Campus Partners is serving the
interests of Ohio State, not the neighborhood, and has failed to
seek input from university area groups.
If Larry's is safe from a Campus Partners
wrecking ball, not every alcohol-soaked institution is so lucky.
"The folks at Larry's have nothing to
worry about," Sterrett said. "South (campus) is a
Among those on the south campus endangered
list: Papa Joe's. One source said bar owners in the area have
resisted attempts to buy them out.
As yet, a "Save Papa Joe's"
committee has not been heard from.