Photograph by Alexandra Taylor
It’s a Friday night a week before The ’Wood Bar will open for business. Karyn and Mike Balog are busy putting finishing touches on their new Norwood bar when a neighbor peeks inside the door. Although construction work and last-minute details are delaying the official opening, the beer taps are in, and Mike pours a glass for the guest. When asked how much it costs, Mike says not to worry about it, and instead clinks his glass in cheers to their very first customer.
“This bar is about reuniting with old friends and making new friends,” Karyn says. She, her husband Mike, and their friend Steve Schomburg decided to begin this endeavor after Mike and Steve found themselves needing a new place for their dart league to play. Mike grew up in Norwood and wanted to do what he could to improve the area.
The ’Wood Bar is located at 1763 Sherman Ave., in the space previously occupied by Jimmie’s Tap Room. Through plenty of renovations, mostly focused on adding light and bringing a fresher aesthetic, the pair have created a new look for the place—though Karyn says that they have kept some fan favorites from Jimmie’s Tap Room.
“There are these wood-paneled walls in the men’s room that have generations of carved initials, and people were saying, ‘Oh, you can’t take down the men’s room wall, my grandfather’s initials are carved in there!’ It’s quirky, but we kept that for them,” Karyn says. They’ve also restored and refinished the 1930s Art Deco-style cherry wood bar, and they found some old tin ceiling tiles in the back that they plan to take down and reinstall over the bar area.
The yellowed original charter document for Jimmie’s Social Club, incorporated on August 8, 1946, also surfaced during renovations. This August 8, The ’Wood Bar will have its grand opening (the soft opening was in early June) to celebrate the 70th anniversary of its predecessors. The owners are hoping to expand food service in the fall, and Karyn says that if people request a certain liquor or beer that they don’t have, she’ll run it down for them. And for any skeptics out there? Listermann Brewing Company’s “Don’t Talk Sh*t About Norwood” is on tap.
The ’Wood Bar, 1763 Sherman Ave., Norwood, (513) 604-5383