Scarlet & Grey Cafe Is Closed, Too’s Under High Taking Over Location

Over the weekend, Columbus music scene faithful were bombarded with some disappointing news. After 16 years in business, Scarlet & Grey Cafe closed its doors on May 6. Reactions ranged from overwhelming sadness to anger, and every emotion in between.

No one was more disappointed in the closure than the owner, Helen Yebio.

“I’m devastated myself,” said Yebio. “It’s just time for me to take care of my health. If I just wanted to sell the business, I would have sold it three years ago when the money was right. I continued to keep it on, but I just can’t handle the business any longer.”

It isn’t just Yebio’s health though. The money was tight as well. Music venues aren’t easy to run and there are a lot of moving parts involved. Being a platform for newer bands isn’t always a money making endeavor. In the beginning, the money didn’t really matter to Yebio.

“Some people open a business to become a millionaire,” she said wistfully. “I became a millionaire in my heart.”

As time went on, and debt increased, Yebio began to feel the challenges of running the business weren’t just cutting into her finances, they were also taking time away from her children.

“I have teenagers going to college. We never had a chance to go on a good vacation or anything,” she explained. “I just lived my life for 16 years at Scarlet & Grey. I need time for me to raise and enjoy time with them.”

Yebio declined to comment on the sale stating it wasn’t final, however, rumors were swirling that Too’s Under High was moving in.

Scott Ellsworth, the owner of Too’s, was happy to confirm the transition. Too’s and Scarlet & Grey actually shared a landlord and when Too’s was struggling, Ellsworth reached out to find out if the move would be possible.

For the past few months, Ellsworth had been in talks to make the transition. Now that the deal is final, he’s already begun renovations on the old Scarlet & Grey.

Three’s Above High, which is what the new location will be called, hopes to carry the same, lovable dive vibe that Too’s did. And although there aren’t plans to host national touring acts, Three’s will still be a place to catch great live acts. “Right now, my main focus is staying local, helping some people who normally wouldn’t get a shot, to play somewhere,” he explained.

Ellsworth will be joined at Three’s Above High by his Too’s General Manager Cory Harmon and his main musician Jon White, both of whom will be minority owners. “They’ve worked with me for so long and shown their commitment over the years, helping to make Too’s what it was. It only seemed fitting to bring them along.”

Three’s will have food as well as drink, and Ellsworth is currently working on a concept. “Nothing fancy,” he explained. “Just something for people to stay, hang out, get a decent bite to eat, drink some beer and watch some live music.”

For the Too’s community, the new bar marks the success of their “Save Too’s” campaign, which has been running for nearly a year and a half. But for the diehards of Scarlet & Grey, it’s the end of an era.

It’s a bittersweet ending for Yebio and Scarlet & Grey. In an ideal world, she would have kept the venue open forever, but it wasn’t in the cards. “I didn’t sell it for the money. It’s not about money. It’s about the million hearts that I carry in my heart,” she said. “They mean so much to me. I would love to come back and help young people make their dreams. I did the best that I could, but it was out of my hands.”

Three’s Above High is set to open in July or August, which means that for a brief time, Too’s and Three’s will both be serving the community great drinks, live music, and the neighborhood dive atmosphere people have come to love.

For more updates about Three’s Above High, visit their Twitter.

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