HUNTINGTON — In 2005, the Calamity Café on the corner of 3rd Avenue and Hal Greer Boulevard closed its doors. On Saturday, a new version of the same business had its soft opening just in time for the Marshall home football game against Cincinnati.
“I used to love Calamity Café and I would come in all the time,” said Clint Artrip, owner of the new Calamity J Grill & Bar at 1555 3rd Ave., just a stone’s throw from the Marshall University campus. “When the building went up for sale, I had the idea to purchase it and bring back the Calamity concept with some new renovations, upgrades and additions. I just felt like that name belongs with this iconic building, and I wanted to incorporate it in my overall vision for this place.”
The Calamity Café was in business from 1992 to 2005 and was a favorite with MU students, faculty and others. The colorful eatery served up Southwestern-flavored food.
“We are bringing back Calamity Café’s most popular menu items and past recipes, along with some new additions as well,” Artrip said.
The establishment offers approximately 5,000 square feet of space with 2,500 square feet on each of the two floors.
Artrip says the upstairs will have a large wine bar and bistro with a large outdoor balcony patio space.
“We will be able to get at least 100 people up here,” he said. “Upstairs we are starting off with 10 small plates, including a couple good cheese boards, dipping oils and more. Hopefully, we will offer a special meal up here each night, like a fillet or salmon dinner, so people can have dinner up here, too.”
Artrip says the upstairs bar has 24 different types of wine by the glass and about 70 types of wine by the bottle.
“You can get a great glass of wine for $10 to $12 or a bottle of wine ranging in price from $20 to $225,” he said.
Downstairs offers a sports bar and dining atmosphere with a variety of dinners, sandwiches, appetizers, full bar and large flat-screen televisions on the walls.
“We are going to be a bar with a limited menu, but our food will be the best in town,” Artrip said. “We will have 27 entrées starting out, but plan to expand the menu as time goes on.”
Artrip, who was founder of the Fat Patty’s regional chain of restaurants before selling them in August 2018, says his vision for the new business is a very casual and laid-back atmosphere with great food.
“We are going to have tacos and burritos, like they used to have, as well as the wonderful pasta recipes they had, too, including the jalapeno pasta and sun-dried tomato pasta,” he said. “We will have the great chicken dinners, cheese sticks, crazy horse fries, onion rings, cheese soup mac and cheese, and more. And anything available downstairs will be available upstairs, and anything available upstairs will also be available downstairs.”
The downstairs portion of Calamity J Grill & Bar will be open from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. six days a week.
“We will be closed downstairs on Monday, because we make all of our stuff from scratch and have to do a lot of preparation work on Monday,” Artrip said. “We will also be closed on Monday, as well as Tuesday, at the upstairs wine bar.”
The wine bar and bistro upstairs will be open from 5 p.m. until midnight Tuesday through Saturday.
Artrip says the new business will employ around 30 to 35 people.
“I want to keep it small and quaint,” he said. “We plan to keep it nice and simple.”
Ben Johnson will be the general manager of the new bar and grill.
“We will be open for those wanting to do special events, parties and other special occasions,” Johnson said. “Those wanting to make reservations should call 304-529-8100.”
The grand opening for Calamity J Grill & Bar is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 3.