The Rusty Bucket provided samples for review. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
Today I’m excited to share about a local Columbus restaurant with a great story, delicious food, and some of the best people in hospitality. While the Rusty Bucket Tavern provided me with samples, please know that all thoughts and opinions are my own.
The Rusty Bucket Tavern has always been on our standard family rotation. The food is consistently good, the service friendly, and the prices reasonable. There’s something for everyone on the menu, and nothing feels pretentious. With locations all over the city, it truly is your local neighborhood tavern.
I thought I was pretty familiar with “the Bucket” as us regulars call it. Great drafts. Delicious food. An awesome happy hour. What else is there to know?
But recently, the Rusty Bucket Tavern in Clintonville, invited me out to sample some dishes and get to know their team. I was able to meet the people working hard behind the scenes and learn a bit more about this homegrown favorite.
Gary Callicoat, Founder and President, opened the first Rusty Bucket in Dublin, OH in 2002. At the time, he was working as the General Manager for Martini Italian Bistro downtown. (Another amazing Columbus staple – omg their lobster risotto!)
Gary started his restaurant career at the age of 15, beginning as a dishwasher, and working his way up to being a manager at a Cameron Mitchell restaurant. As someone with a similar background of working up the ranks and over a decade in restaurant management experience under my belt, I can tell you that this is both rare and amazing.
In fact, the best restaurant GM I’ve ever worked with also had a humble start. He started as a busser and worked his way up. (Hi, Rick!) When you take the time to fully understand each part of the restaurant business in this way, you end up being a fantastic leader.
And while this is fairly rare in the restaurant world, everyone I met at the Bucket had a similar story.
Nico, the Executive Chef. Will, the General Manager. Amy, the head bar trainer.
As they talked, it was clear to see just how much they loved this company and truly believed in it.
It was so refreshing!
So back to Gary Callicoat’s story. And here’s the part the I love – when he came up with the idea for the Rusty Bucket Tavern, Cameron Mitchell mentored and guided him. Everyone in Columbus knows that Cameron Mitchell is synonymous with “hospitality” and the Rusty Bucket Tavern is no different.
You feel it as soon as you walk in the door. The friendly smiles, and the managers walking around and greeting regulars. The servers and bartenders laughing and having a good time with their tables.
That kind of atmosphere can’t be engineered – it has to be earned.
All of that is awesome, but at the end of the day, a restaurant has to have really good food. And the Bucket doesn’t disappoint.
Here are some of my favorites dishes
Happy hour runs from 3-6pm Monday – Friday. My favorite part? You can sit ANYWHERE in the restaurant, so for all you parents out there looking for a great deal – this happy hour is family-friendly!
Appetizers and pizzas are half off, the FREAKING AMAZING “Juicy Lucy” burger is $5, and you get $1 off cocktails, beer and wine.
Happy hour specials to explore:
They also feature a daily “Blue Plate” special, along with a daily drink feature. This is a rotating menu with some pretty delicious options at a great price.
Here are three “Blue Plate” specials to check out:
If you’re looking for some lighter options, don’t worry. Rusty Bucket has you covered! I’m in love with all of their salad options, but the Double Nickel salad has my heart. (I usually sub out the bleu cheese crumbles for something else and they are always happy to accommodate!) In addition to the entree salads they also have healthier appetizer and entree options.
Healthier options to check out:
And a quick shout-out to my current Rusty Bucket FAVE!
And just in case you were about to worry that “the Bucket” didn’t have any desserts – I’m here to tell you that they do. And they are GOOD.
Here’s three desserts to check out:
Don’t forget – The Rusty Bucket also features a fantastic weekend brunch!
Their weekend brunch features classics like breakfast sandwiches, warm donuts, and 4-egg omelettes, but also fun additions like a short rib rash, chicken & waffles, or a breakfast burrito. And French toast!
Check out this delicious, seasonal French Toast!
And don’t forget the little ones!
Did you know that the Rusty Bucket takes part in the Kids LiveWell program?
This means that their kids menu has options that have been verified to meet specific nutritional guidelines established by leading health organizations. As a parent, it’s hard to find healthy options on a kid’s menu, and I’m so grateful for choices like grilled fish, grilled chicken tenders, and veggie pizza. Picky eaters? Not to worry, because all they also have classic kid items like grilled cheese, mac & cheese, and kid-size burgers.
And one last thing – parents will LOVE the kid’s reading program! Next time you’re at your neighborhood Rusty Bucket, ask for a kid’s bookmark. On the back, you can list the books that they read and once it’s filled up, they get a FREE kid’s meal.
How’s that for great reinforcement?
I love writing about and celebrating local Columbus spots. If you know of a local restaurant with a GREAT Columbus story, let me know and I’ll check it out!
Eat local, friends!