Moerlein to open riverfront park beer garden

Moerlein to open riverfront park beer garden Business Courier of Cincinnati - by Jon Newberry and Dan Monk Staff Reporter/Senior Staff Reporter
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The Cincinnati Park Board has announced an agreement with Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. to develop a restaurant and beer garden at Cincinnati’s new Central Riverfront Park.
Parks Director Willie Carden said the project will involve a lager house, restaurant and microbrewery of up to 15,000 square feet to be constructed on a development pad across from Great American Ball Park. The restaurant, to be called the Moerlein Lager House, will seat 500 inside and 600 in the beer garden.
The Lager House will be built on Main Street as part of the 45-acre park now under construction next to the Banks riverfront development, according to a news release. Preliminary designs for the three-story building include a green roof, balconies and terraces with views of the river, Roebling Suspension Bridge and the ballpark.
"We were looking for a restaurant concept for the new park that would be completely unique to Cincinnati and inspire feelings of 'Wow!'" Carden said in the release.
Plans call for construction of the Lager House to begin in the first quarter of 2010, with the opening scheduled for spring, 2011. The financial terms of the deal have not yet been finalized.
The restaurant will be on a portion of the new city park that sits atop a parking garage, overlooking the Ohio River. The park board secured Cincinnati City Council authorization Wednesday afternoon to negotiate a preferred development agreement for the restaurant.
Moerlein CEO Greg Hardman has been talking about a Moerlein beer garden – even multiple Moerlein beer gardens around town – for several years. His dream is to revive what it was like in the 19th century when Sunday afternoon gatherings in Over-the-Rhine beer gardens were a staple of Cincinnati social life.
The Lager House brewery restaurant on the riverfront will be developed by a group of private investors through Cincinnati Growth Partners, a Cincinnati-based strategic planning firm. Details of Christian Moerlein’s participation in the project haven’t been finalized, Hardman said.
The agreement with Cincinnati Parks gives Moerlein 45 days to submit a development plan, but Hardman said that was an administrative technicality.
“That’s not the spirit of the thing. We have all the time we need to complete the project,” he said.
The microbrewery restaurant will be one of the largest of its kind in the country, Hardman said. It will not include any bottling or canning lines for Moerlein or Hudepohl-Schoenling beers intended for off-premise sales. The restaurant furthers Hardman’s goal of returning that production to Cincinnati eventually, he said, but he was non-committal about how soon it will happen.
“Stay tuned,” he said.
The riverfront brewery will produce most of the many Cincinnati beer beers in his portfolio, however. That means all varieties of Moerlein lagers and ales and many of the classic Hudepohl-Schoenling brands, including Burger, Hudepohl 14K, Hudy Delight, Schoenling Lager, Little Kings and even Schoenling Brewing Co.’s Sir Edward Stout.
“We’ll also be making all the seasonal brands that they were known for,” Hardman said. “We’re going to celebrate our Cincinnati brewing history. They’ll be a reason to come to Cincinnati. This will be a great economic development driver for the city.”
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