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The Grass Skirt, Columbus, OH (restaurant)

Pages: 1 2 48 replies


Name:The Grass Skirt
Street:105 N. Grant Street

Opening Mid September 2012

From article here:

The Grass Skirt seeks to revive the fire-and-tiki kitsch of tiki bars of yore with Polynesian fare and flair at 105 N. Grant Street in spring 2012. “We’re working on a volcano,” Lessner said. “We can’t promise it yet because it may not work.”

Also part of the South Pacific plans — steaming drinks, a waterfall, Spam, pineapples and maraschino cherries. “We all grew up loving the Kahiki,” she said of the once-popular Columbus restaurant that lives on as a frozen food brand. “We try to find niches. Our restaurant group goes for a fun vibe.” The venture includes the rest of the Columbus Food League team — Carmen Owens, Amy Brennick, Tim Lessner and Harold LaRue. One appeal of the old MadLab Theater and Gallery space was that it was a high-ceiling and open space — giving the business brain trust the freedom to be more creative, including not just the Polynesian decor but the ability to build the kitchen from scratch.

Edited to revise projected opening date.

[ Edited by: Hakalugi 2012-08-08 21:06 ]


Finally, some good tiki news for Columbus Ohio!!

Swanky posted on Thu, Nov 3, 2011 9:16 AM

You think they know that the predecessor to the Kahiki was called the "Grass Shack"?


Good news!!!
Hey Lessner I got lights if ya need some.


Thank you Liz for bringing back Tiki to Columbus! I loved the Kahiki and the short lived Tropical Bistro. If anyone can bring Tiki back, you can!

I must disagree that Kahiki lives on in the processed frozen food that the company now sells. It is Kahiki in name only and I wish they would take the name off of their product as it has nothing to do with the food in the restaurant. Kahiki is DEAD, and on its gravesite sits a Wallgreens. However, tiki isn't dead....its just slumbering until the Grass Skirt opens.


Well, the previously announced opening of Spring 2012 seems to have slipped by.

Has anyone heard of an updated projection?

Their Facebook page mentions a possible opening date of August 27th.
Not official, just a response to someone's question.
They also have some bar construction, tiki carving, and food pics.
Oh, and they seem to know what the Grass Skirt. I saw them mention it somewhere, but now I can't find the article.

Here's the FB page for info:


edited to add article links

[ Edited by: Pittsburgh pauly 2012-07-24 14:25 ]


Hi gang,

I'm Amy Brennick, co-owner of Grass Skirt Tiki Room. I'm working closely with Carmen Owens who is Grass Skirt's managing partner. First off, thank you so much for your enthusiasm. We appreciate all of the good will.

Yes, we learned about the Grass Shack during this year's Kahiki Tribute Party. Carmen and I attended as guests of the Fraternal Order of the Moai. Jeff Moai (we refer to their members like they're the Ramones; Jeff Moai, Matt Maoi, Yalena Maoi...), Jeff gave a presentation on the history of Kahiki and its founders. We also met Bill Sapp who did seem tickled at the similarity of the names. At least he didn't seem pissed, hmm. He and his daughter were actually very encouraging and promised to check us out for lunch sometime.

Indeed we have missed our spring opening goal. Since nothing is set in stone when starting up a new business, take this info as my best guesses: We should be ready for our series of facilities inspections next week. Then it's onto the interior design work. We've spent the last two weeks running tests on recipes for our opening menu - which will be small since we're keeping our focus on fabulous cocktailing. Oh, the opening cocktail list is ~90% done. We will have our front of house staff hired by the end of next week and trained during the last week of August.

So, that means that we've set our sights on a mid-September opening. The blow by blow will continue to be posted on our facebook page.


And this is us on Monday whipping up some grub. L to R: me, chef Lara Ranallo from Surly Girl Saloon, Carmen, and co-owner Tim Lessner. I think we were trying out Spam Menehunes, some pineapple deep fried in coconut batter, and some grilled bananas.


Congrats Lena AKA Spiked on doing the lights for The Skirt!!
I don't think Bills daughter was there, Wife?

Any Columbus ohana have any inside scoop on a possible opening?
Facebook says it's getting close and promises mai tais in September.
But nothing announced yet.
C'mon, FOM must know something right?
I won't tell anyone...


The FOM knows "something".
Pre-opening party was tonight, in fact, with plenty of FOM in attendance. :wink:
Watch Facebook for pictures.
More soon here, too, I'm sure......


Oh, and.....


From Grass Skirts Facebook page:

'Ok, we've been mysterious for long enough: our official public opening is Tuesday, Sept 25 at 6pm. Waterfalls, lava walls & mai tais await you...aloha nui loa!'

:D :D :D


Local paper:


Just to clarify: They aren't open until September 25th.

[ Edited by: spiked 2012-09-18 09:56 ]


I think the Pittsburgh Ohana is going to try to make it out soon!

"The Grass Skirt is inspired in part by Frankie’s Tiki Room in Las Vegas, a tiny space 15 minutes from the Strip, decked from head to toe in bamboo and puffer-fish lamps, and with a souvenir tiki mug that looks like a slot machine."



Here is the full article that columbus underground did on building Grass Skirt tiki bar, very neat! :)


Congratulations on your new business. Looks like quite a serious endevour, looking forward to more pictures and stories of your success.

Still want to make it out there! Amy, any call for booking the world's greatest sideshow performer there!?

Just got back from the Grass Skirt!

Great place; nice vibe. The food was excellent & the drinks were mixed well. I had a Mai Tai & a Navy Grog.

Needs more tikis, but there's always time for that. So glad Columbus has a tiki destination again.

Best of luck Grass Skirt!!

Kanu posted on Mon, Oct 1, 2012 8:41 AM

Awesome! Look forward to visiting in the next few weeks! Any news on a commissioned mug yet? Anyone throwing their hat in the ring?


Barb and I went on tuesday.
The food was good, as was the service.
Good job!

Need Budweiser though.

... uh-oh - does this mean I have to drive all the way out there and give it the ol' tipsy mcstagger special critique ?? Guess i'm gonna have to warm up the ol' thumbs again.....


Love it!

Wacth out for Butt chugging, very popular these days.
Your two thumbs up may just kill somones buzz.

[ Edited by: tikiskip 2012-10-12 12:44 ]

here are my photos from my recent trip to the grass skirt, what with the holiday decorations etc.

Just came back from having the Grass Skirt for lunch. Wow! I love that place. Of course the drinks are good, but the food is incredible as well. If you haven't done so yet, like their facebook page to see what the special of the day is each day. They are producing some tasty treats. In case you need the link...https://www.facebook.com/#!/GrassSkirtTikiRoom?fref=ts

Go check it out, it's WORTH it.

Here is an interview with the artist, Nikos Fyodor Rutkowski, that created the volcano wall at the Grass Skirt.

CCAD has a new downtown neighbor, in the Grass Skirt Tiki Room, and Fine Arts alumnus Nikos Fyodor Rutkowski (CCAD 2002) brought about one of its more dynamic interior features.

Rutkowski was approached by Harold LaRue, one of the owners of the Grass Skirt, after he saw an installation Rutkowski did for the Columbus Arts Pop-Up Project. LaRue wanted Rutkowski to design a lava wall for the tiki-bar-themed restaurant.

“I was a little hesitant at first,” Rutkowski said. “I had been swamped at my day job where I make props for haunted houses and theme parks, but in the end I just couldn’t refuse the opportunity to work on such a cool project so close to my alma mater.”

Rutkowski’s design for the wall includes raised foam forms to imitate volcanic rock. He used black light paint on the recessed portion of the wall to give the illusion of liquid magma and illuminated the entire piece with LED black light features.

The installation of the wall took Rutkowski about 30 hours spread out over several weeks—even with occasional help from volunteers.

“It was awesome to see the restaurant all finished and up and running,” Rutkowski said. “And it was great to see my contribution fitting in so well. There are so many cool visual contributions from artists and craftspeople throughout the restaurant, and many people have come up to me to compliment my work.”

The Grass Skirt, which opened in mid-September, is owned by Columbus Food League Partners, a group that owns several popular restaurants in the Columbus area.

I'm visiting Columbus, Ohio and just stumbled onto The Grass Skirt tiki bar/restaurant. I will definitely be checking it out tomorrow and posting my impressions. Their web site looks good. Any food or drink suggestions?


They're really good people, especially the owners. The door man is getting bigger into tiki, assuming the same guy still works there.

The food changes all the time, but some things stay. Here's my recommendations.

House made crab rangoon
Wonton Nachoes
Crab Cake Fritters

Curried Chicken Salad Menehuene

Banh Mi Style
Phillynesian Teriyaki Beef

And for an island treat: LOCO MOCO! Love that stuff.

All of them. I'm kidding. No seriously, all of them.
Anything under Tiki Classics is good with me, haven't had any others. Well, I did, but I don't remember them.

Here's my honest review, after just coming from The Grass Skirt. Overall, I'd give it a 7. The decor was excellent, nice selection of rums and tiki drinks, and my entree was very good. I had the Kung Pao Chicken. The prices were very reasonable. Also, no TVs, thank you! No real tiki bar should have a television anywhere. On the downside, there was way too much light in the place. Not dark enough at all. I noticed two bare light bulbs hanging over the bar which gave off way too much light. Also, there was a lot of noise and light bleeding from the kitchen. The music was all surf, which is not bad, but I suggested mixing in some exotica. Other than that, a good experience overall and refreshing change from your typical midwestern bar. I will happily go back.

Nice mention here of Carmen Owens at the Grass Skirt.



[ Edited by: rev_thumper 2013-10-17 10:19 ]


It's the only tiki anything left in Columbus, as the dreadful processed frozen food company bearing the name Kahiki doesn't count. The drinks are good and so is the decor. The food is mostly Asian fusion and I'm not a fan of that kind of cuisine. I was hoping they would try to recreate some old Kahiki classics like the Tahitian mermaid or Mahi Mahi almondine. I don't go often and don't eat the food when I do.

So much for no tv!! According to their Facebook page the Grass Skirt has been "prettied up".


I thought the chairs they had in there before were the most uncomfortable
chairs you could put in a restaurant, Till I saw these benches.
Where would you put your coat as well, It's cold in Ohio so we often have those.

Don't know why Columbus is so in love with the person who is Cols food group.
If you look on Yelp it's not "prettied up" that this place needs.
It needs good service, good food, work on that.
If not for the great reviews that a certain group gives them this place would have
a horrible Yelp rating, as it is the rating is ok at 3.5 stars.

Here's the latest review....
1.0 star rating 10/5/2015
Went in at 6:00 with my family. Sat at a table for half hour with no service. Apparently it's more important to serve loud and drunk assholes at the bar. We left and won't be coming back.

When we went the food was good so we got another of the same and that version of the same item was not good.

The hot dog place could not even get the HOT part of hot dog right as the hotdog was cold.
And I think I got vegetarian Coney sauce on my cold dog, why is there even such a thing as
vegetarian Coney sauce?
And some people RAVE about Dirty Franks.

The owner of this place is lucky she is friends with the reviewer types and political types in this town as it maybe the only thing saving her.

I know the benches were on sale at Home Depot but nobody wants to sit on benches.
Bag the benches, and those horrible metal chairs while you are at it.

My lady Hannah and I will be in town from Grand Rapids and plan to visit the Grass Skirt Friday night (20th). If you happen to be in the bar that night - please say hello. Can't miss me - I'll have my Shriner Tiki shirt on.


Have fun.
I will be at Windward passage.
What time will you be at the GS?

Would guess a few of the local group might be at GS, I don't go there really.
If you have time at end of night the windward is about 20 mins away.

Los Guachos Taqueria has really good food FYI.

Skip, sorry we missed you. I was in Cinci longer than expected and made it to town later in the day, but I did get a chance to visit the grass skirt and the windward. Enjoyed both places. Thanks for the recommendations.

[ Edited by: Snapper_RIW 2018-04-22 09:23 ]

Check to see when GS closes, it can be really early some days even Fri and Sat.
Windward stops food at 10:00 and we leave most weekends at around 11:00 or so.

But really Los Guachos Taqueria is the best and fastest food, and not costly.
Gringas tacos are great I think it was on food network even.


Was Grass skirt busy?
I missed you at Windward, glad you were able to see it, what time were you at Windward?
Hope you did NOT get a Mai Tai at Windward! they come with Grenadine.

I like Windward because it is old and of the era of the old tiki bars.
Maybe it's that old era I like more than just tiki?

Hope you went to the bar that's the fun place at Windward.

Forgot to tell you about the Springfield Antique show that was on Sat.
We did make one rare tiki find that day, other than that not a great show.

i hate to be the one posting this update, but the owner of the Grass Skirt has made an announcement as of yesterday, 7/24/2019 that they will be closing on 8/24/2019.

that's all we know now. :(


Read your reviews address the bad ones and FIX the problems that the reviewers post on your business.


PS where does the fountain go now.

Jims backyard?
Good thing you took the steps needed to make sure it remains the property of the many FOM members that bought it.

Sad. The first time I went, it was amazing. The second time I went, it took WAY too long to get drinks and we only received 3 of the 4 we ordered. Haven't been back since.

That said... I wonder if any of the decor will be up for grabs? Haha.


The local group here REALLY beefed up the Grass Skirts ratings online, if not for them the place would have had a worse rating overall.

On 2019-07-25 05:05, tikiskip wrote:
PS where does the fountain go now.

Jims backyard?
Good thing you took the steps needed to make sure it remains the property of the many FOM members that bought it.

I'd keep a close eye on this. I've seen enough estate sales and business liquidations to know that property explicitly identified as separate from the estate/business has a nasty habit of vanishing. Hell, we had a small zoo that closed near here in 2002 with a bunch of meerkats on loan from San Diego. The meerkats vanished mysteriously and were never seen again, despite LOTS of media attention. That fountain should be recovered at the soonest opportunity, if not sooner.


You wont see a response here from the local group as it's a love, hate, hate, thing as far as TC goes, er they don't post here much really.

BUT they did say at the start when they got the thing that it's was all worked out if the place should go out.

Just hope they don't jump from the skillet into the fire and put it in some other place that is maybe headed down the same road.

Going to be kinda hard to find a place that you can put that at, not a lot of homes have the room inside or outside for it.

Grass skirt did last for a bit of time though, did not think it would last quite as long as it did.


At the date of 9/30/2019 the fountain was still on the patio of the old Grass Skirt location, the place is closed.

Maybe this will be the site of the new FOM clubhouse.
Man with all the stuff they bought from the Kahiki and put in Jim's house it would be one heck of a place.

Would hate to see the liquor bill though.

Did hear it may go to the new tiki place called Huli Huli.


Did see this on the Grass Skirts website.
But Damn did the FOM not make ANY money at the many events they have?
AND they do charge dues for the last many years?

Crap they spent six thousand dollars on the stuff at Jim's house surely they can dig up what it would cost to move this thing.

Winters commin get it outta there.
Good luck!

"Hey tiki lovers, far and wide! The Moai need some help moving George to the place he’s gonna get restored and chill for a while. Also, we miss you, look for some SheCreature info coming sooon. xxx"

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