As the first and only sober bar in Columbus, The Dry Mill has resonated with many across the community thanks to its mission and execution from the owners, David Payne + Colin Thomas. Our CBUStoday team was able to sit down with David and discuss the ins-and-outs of the non-alcoholic establishment.
How did The Dry Mill get started?
Colin and I have known each other since we were 12. We both don’t drink and have been sober for years. Colin got sober before me and when I hit my point in life that I needed to stop, he was the first person I called. He helped get me on board in sobriety.
We were trying to think of ways that we could give back to the community. We started seeing sober bars coming up in different parts of the country in other big cities. And we grew up here and got sober here, so we knew Columbus would be the perfect spot for it.
We started a Facebook page last June that really took off, so it’s been about a year in the making for everything.
What is your mission?
When we both got sober, we would find ourselves at restaurants or bars because our friends still drink. There were times I’d be watching football at a bar on a Sunday for eight hours and think this is not healthy for someone who’s not drinking.
So we thought, there has to be a space for people who are pregnant, sober, don’t want to drink, or cannot drink for health reasons. We want a space where people don’t have to worry about being surrounded by alcohol. We want a space where they don’t have to worry about the temptation of drinking.
How has the community responded to the sober bar approach?
Our grand opening was on April 30, 2022 and it’s been so humbling. At our grand opening there were people here from open to close. People were waiting outside to come in and we never would’ve expected it. People have traveled from around the state to check it out. We have even had people from across the country.
What is the atmosphere like?
Back during prohibition, for people who were trying to make alcohol when they weren’t allowed to, they called them gin mills. And so it was a play on words naming it The Dry Mill because we don’t serve alcohol and it’s a dry environment. We wanted a mill atmosphere and so that’s where our paneling came from. We have pictures of prohibition up too for fun.
We wanted to have plenty of TVs. We are a college football city, and our hours work around that. We are closed on Tuesdays instead of Mondays because we know National Championships are played on Mondays and we expect OSU to be in the National Championship every year. We wanted to highlight sports, Monday Night Football, and let people watch games without being around alcohol.
We try to be something for everybody. We’ve had college kids, older crowds, and people from all walks of life come in and that’s what’s really cool.
What is your menu like?
We have your typical Midwest bar food and some of our top sellers have been the chicken wings. We’re brining them for 24 hours before we get them to cook. Our poutine fries are also super popular.
Our top selling burger is The Dry Mill burger and all our burgers have two patties. We also have a sweet potato quinoa burger for people who don’t eat meat.
Our top selling drink is Oscar’s Trash Can, it comes with a full can of Red Bull on the inside with pineapple. We also have drinks with immunity boosters and vitamins, but all of our mocktails have 0% alcohol. We also have a wide range of non-alcoholic craft beers.
It was also heavy on our minds as well to not be an overpriced establishment for non-alcoholic drinks.