You're involved with the Downtown Nightlife Association. What's the biggest misconception about the downtown Columbus nightlife scene?
The biggest misconception is that the downtown nightlife scene is all about drinking, partying and disturbing the peace. Downtown is becoming the entertainment district that our city officials envisioned, with a growing and diverse list of restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
The Downtown Nightlife Association, DNA, in cooperation with Uptown Columbus and other groups, assists in putting on numerous events for everyone in Colum
bus to enjoy. As a nonprofit corporation, the DNA donates significant sums to a variety of charitable causes.
Just this year the DNA has raised or donated money to the Ryan Corkron heart transplant fund, Red Cross, Breast Cancer awareness, to The Market to help feed families at Thanksgiving, House of Heroes, Our House and for the sixth year gathering toys for kids at Christmas. And all of this is made possible by the residents of the Valley who come downtown to have a good time.
What do you say to people who worry about the safety of the downtown Columbus bars?
On a Friday or Saturday night it is one of the safest places in Columbus. The DNA and Uptown Columbus, in cooperation with Columbus Police Department, has six to 10 off-duty officers working in downtown. You also have the CPD and sheriff on-duty officers patrolling, CSU officers walking the area, and a Courtesy Patrol from Fort Benning to help out with any incidents that may happen. That is a lot of protection for a three-block radius.
Do things happen? Sure. There are always a few bad apples when you gather 2,000-plus people in any area. You see in the Ledger about the bad things that occasionally happen. What you don't see is the headline, "2,000 people downtown last night, everyone had a great time!"
You also own Van Dykes for Men, a full-service barbershop and spa for men in downtown Columbus. What's your advice for men who are growing their facial hair in conjunction with "Movember" or "No Shave November"?
Do your best and have fun with it. This is your reason/excuse to try something and go a little wild. I am letting mine grow out for about another week, then my staff has plans to shave my beard and moustache into a different design every few days.
"Movember" or "No Shave November" isn't a reason to be lazy and not shave, but it is a way to bring attention to a major men's health issue like prostate cancer. If you want to know more go to Movember.com.
If you could add any type of business to downtown Columbus, what would you choose and why?
That's easy -- a convenience store. With more loft apartments, students, businesses and tourists coming to downtown a convenience store is needed. People live in most downtown areas for the convenience and lifestyle, such as being able to walk or bike to work, school or to a restaurant. Having to get in your car to grab some potato chips or a gallon of milk isn't convenient.
What's the best-kept secret in the Chattahoochee Valley?
It has to be the history. Who would have thought that the Confederate Navy was built in Columbus. Or that the last battle of the Civil War was fought here. And as a former member of the U.S. Army, the National Infantry Museum is an amazing place. The Little White House in Pine Mountain is an interesting look at a much simpler time in the life of one of our presidents. Who would have guessed that the "Mother of the Blues" Ma Rainey was born and raised here and that two of America's largest companies, Coca-Cola and Aflac, were started here.