After working in the college district at a number of campus bars like Barrel 44, Toos and Out-R-Inn, Karrio Ballard decided to open his own neighborhood bar and grill – Addella’s on Oak.
After meeting his wife, Victoria Hink, the two bought and added to a vacant facility 1485 Oak St. that would open later than Addella is on oak in October 2020, combining the names of their daughters, Addy and Stella. With an eclectic regular and plant-based menu, live entertainment, and a newly launched spirits license, Addella’s works to serve its community.
However, the launch wasn’t without some challenges, mostly due to the lack of an alcohol license due to the pandemic. Without the license, her full vision for Addella’s would not be complete.
“It wasn’t easy, and I never sugarcoated it,” Ballard said. “That’s why we sold our house. We had to do a lot of things that people couldn’t stomach to make this happen, but it was something I believed in.”
Without an alcohol license, only beer and wine were sold. Though it didn’t have a full bar, Addella’s featured a largely plant-based menu alongside the regular menu, according to Ballard, whose family is plant-based.
“I have a feeling if you don’t have it, you’re cutting off a demographic, you know?” Ballard said. “So basically we wanted to take our regular menu and have a plant-based option. Essentially, if you look at our menu, almost everything that is on the regular menu is on the plant-based menu.”
The bar and grill serves a variety of food, from tacos, burgers, clubs and meatball subs — all of which can be made plant-based, Ballard said. The restaurant proudly uses the slogan “Food you’ve eaten before like you’ve never eaten before”.
Patrick Kalista, Ohio State graduate student and general manager of Addella’s on Oak, said the plant-based options are helping grow business due to 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 here,” Kalista said. “I hear that all the time from people, and I would say some days they sell almost 50-50. I actually have people who are meat eaters eating plant-based burgers now because they say it’s better.”
Addella’s eventually received its full liquor license a year after opening with the help of the community.
“I went door to door with Karrio to get the signatures and we did it all with a lot of help from our regulars who just walked out with sheets, got signatures and posted online to help,” said Kalista.
In early 2022, the restaurant began hosting live musicians like Harmonic Soul — an R&B and soul band — and showcasing local artwork. Ballard said this is another way to increase community involvement.
“We have our regulars that come, and now they’re going to 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 sell food. Oh, you have this.’ And then everyone helps everyone.”
Having spent some time in the college district’s bar industry, Ballard believes Addella’s menu, art exhibits, and music offer something different for students looking to venture into the off-campus neighborhood.
“If you ever want to experience something a little bit different, and in the places that you’re likely to be after you graduate, we’re kind of the next step,” Ballard said.
From the challenge of opening in 2020 to becoming a popular neighborhood bar and grill, Kalista said he’s pleased for Ballard and the community that their vision has been realized.
“Addella’s is special to me because we’re very invested in this neighborhood,” Kalista said. “Put everything in. Put my whole life on the line. I don’t know what comes next. We’re really getting to the point where I’m finally feeling a little grounded.”