Former Columbus bar owner rolling with the pandemic punches

Pandemic Postcards

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – When opportunities present themselves, it’s important to jump. It’s a timing thing.

Brody Wakefield knows all about timing and how to spin it.

Inside the Roll Bike Shop, customers may see Wakefield spinning his wheels again. Stewart Hunter asked him to run the Lane Avenue store – twice.

“Took it, loved it, found out it was kind of a healthier lifestyle for me,” Wakefield said with a shrug.

That was the first time after Wakefield moved to Columbus from Arizona, where he was doing his share of biking. He was racing on the dirt and on the clock, managing restaurant chains like Bonefish, Outback, and Flemings.

“I always had a dream of opening something on my own and seeing how I could do with that and making some of the changes I learned along the way and seeing how I could run with that,” Wakefield said.

He got his chance to run in 2018 when he and a friend invested to turn Buddy’s Place on the south side into Eight and Sand Tavern and Refuge. It was an homage to old rail workers meaning Godspeed.

“We weren’t making huge money, but we were really starting to gain momentum,” Wakefield said.

Momentum that took two years to gain speed.

“The two months leading up to COVID were the best two months we ever had,” Wakefield said.

Then came Sunday, March 15.

“Governor DeWine came on and made his announcement roughly 3 o’clock in the afternoon,” he said. “Busy day in the bar ended up being the busiest day we ever had.”

And that day still holds that record. Tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket and Eight and Sand didn’t qualify for government loans, three kids, and a dream turned nightmare for Brody and his wife Katie.

Wakefield remembers the moment he made the decision to make a change.

“The stress was very heavy and I just looked at her and said, ‘I think it’s time to close,’ and it tore my guts out,” Wakefield said.

He sold his weakened share in the bar and got an offer to get back on the bike, again.

“We literally can’t keep bikes in stock,” he said with a smile.

When gyms and schools closed, biking became the rage to cure quarantine fever and Wakefield started pedaling 7.3 miles each day from home to work.

“Losing some weight, feeling better,” he added enthusiastically, adding he was able to find the positive in everything that happened. “Yeah, certainly losing the bar weighs on me…It’s part of my identity.”

Part of that identity he says is taking what the universe gives you.

“We got a house and kids and we’re lucky” Wakefield acknowledged.

When asked if he would consider opening another bar, he said, “Eventually yeah.”

Rolling with the changes.

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