Donatos Bar and Basement offers underground entertainment venue

The Lantern
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Performers and spectators pose for the camera at a concert held at Club D, or the Donatos Bar and Basement near Ohio State’s Campus. Credit: Courtesy of John Rausch

Customers expect to see pizzas, subs and salads on a Donatos menu; entertainment, on the other hand, may be a less intuitive option.

Located at 2084 N. High St., one off-campus Donatos location has been an underground hub for the off-campus social scene for eight years, Kendall Sorrells, the restaurant’s general manager, said. Although the ground floor functions as a standard dining area, Donatos Bar and Basement, also known as Club D, mixes dinner and entertainment with a full bar and stage — providing a space for people to explore and enjoy niche interests.

“Our goal is really to always support the local community and to have an event space that gives us the opportunity to do that even further,” Seth Mendenhall, bar manager and event coordinator for the campus Donatos, said. “We couldn’t run this place without the community, and it is the most important thing to us and this place. A lot of the people that we’ve connected with over time are able to expand their own brands.”

Sorrells, who has worked at the campus location for almost eight years, said Club D has grown consistently and organically due to a steadfast commitment to fun.

“Someone always wanted the bar to be better,” Sorrells said. “Small little groups went from being two to three people to five, six, 10, 50, 60 people. We started having a more tangible idea of what we could use this space for. I guess it was more of a team effort than just one single inspiration we had.”

To ensure that Donatos reflects the versatility of its supporters, entertainment events vary. Rock, blues, punk and rap are just a few of the musical genres that have graced the basement’s small stage, Mendenhall said.

Some of the more specialized events include video game nights, date parties, private parties, poetry slams, weekly karaoke nights and chess tournaments, Mendenhall and Sorrells said.

“We have a chess tournament that takes place at the end of every year, so we really do anything and everything you could possibly think of,” Sorrells said. “We want to include as many people as we can. Our community, in general, is very diverse, so we try to see if we can take their ideas and give them a platform.”

Even though the bar and basement has evolved enormously over the last almost-decade, Mendenhall said the staff is always trying to make events more appealing and accessible. He said local performers are encouraged to contact Donatos, and new ideas are always considered and appreciated.

“We always have room to grow,” Mendenhall said. “Getting this place consistently busy and packed and full of enjoyment and events is a huge thing for us. We’re happy where we’re at, but there is always room for growth.”

As November begins, the campus Donatos continues to plan concerts and other special occasions, Mendenhall said. According to the restaurant’s Facebook page , local bands Mouth Movements, Palette Knife and Atomic Revolver will be playing in the basement starting at 3 p.m. Nov. 19. Admission is $5 per person.

“We want to keep people laughing and happy,” Sorrells said. “No matter what you want to do or what type of show you want to put on, we can make that possible. We’re always open to any sort of opportunity for the basement.”

Additional information about the entertainment events offered by Donatos Bar and Basement can be found on the restaurant’s Facebook page . Students can also look out for colorful flyers posted across campus.

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