Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Moerlein Lager House: One year 'til beer

The development team behind the $4 million Moerlein Lager House released new details and architectural renderings during a press conference today at the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum, just a stone's throw from the restaurant and microbrewery's future location at Cincinnati Riverfront Park.

Scheduled for completion in August 2011, the 15,000-square-foot, two-story building will have a seating capacity of 500 people inside, with room for an additional 600 people in its outdoor beer garden. The building plans to pursue LEED certification.

The first visible signs of construction could come as early as November.

"Our mission is to breathe new life and vigor into the grand brewing tradition that made Cincinnati one of the world’s greatest brewing meccas over a century ago," said Greg Hardman, president and CEO of Christian Moerlein Brewing Company.

Design looks to future, tributes past

The building envelope will be composed of exposed structural steel, glass, stone, and a heavy timber roof structure.

"We wanted to conceive an almost unexpected, iconic building that would convey both a sense of our region's future and honor for its past," said Greg Tilsley, founder of Tilsley + Associates Architects. "So the dramatic use of glass and steel on the exterior is 'outward' and 'forward looking', while materials for the interiors, such as wood for beamed ceilings, bricks from former breweries, and stone are more reminiscent of the region's legendary brewing heritage."

A first floor bar will have a retractable glass wall that opens into the beer garden and faces the Jacob A. Schmidlapp Stage and Event Lawn.

Upstairs, a larger bar area will feature a two-story glass wall and a wrap-around cantilevered patio, offering sweeping views of the Ohio River, Cincinnati Riverfront Park, and adjacent buildings. The space will be large enough to support live entertainment.

Artifacts, artwork and memorabilia detailing Cincinnati's brewing history will adorn the interior space. Rooms will be named after such prominent brewers as Hudepohl, Schoenling, Burger, Hauck, Windisch-Muhlhauser and others, and a special "Beer Barons Room" banquet room will honor the men behind the breweries.

Menu 'something for everyone'

Tom Cunningham, executive partner of Indiana-based Cunningham Restaurant Group, said that its menu price points will range from $8-$12 for lunch and $10-$25 for dinner, and ingredients will be locally sourced.

The menu pays homage to some of the offerings of 19th century beer gardens in Over-the-Rhine, he said.

"Though the menu is still in the final stages of development, we know that our offerings will include a blend of classic and contemporary fare – something for everyone," Cunningham said. "This includes rotisserie meats, grain-spent breads, hearty stews, distinctive salads such as green bean and potato salad and smoked salmon salad; as well as a full delicatessen menu and Lager House appetizers. Lager House wings, soft pretzels with beer cheese and spicy beer-steamed shrimp with grilled bread are just a few of the appetizers that are currently on the working menu."

Hours of operations are planned to be from 11 a.m.-midnight Sunday through Wednesday and from 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Thursday through Sunday.

'An economic driver'

Last month, Cincinnati City Council approved a 40-year lease between the City and Christian Moerlein.

Under terms of the lease, Christian Moerlein will pay $150,000 in fixed rent during the agreement's first year. In the second year, the company will pay a fixed rent of $150,000 and 1.875 percent of the brewpub's gross sales. In subsequent years, the company will pay a monthly fixed rent of $12,500 plus the 1.875 percent of gross sales, with a fixed minimum of $225,000.

The company also will receive $2 million in City funding for core and shell improvements. The City will retain ownership of the site.

The Moerlein Lager House is expected to create 200 new jobs, generating over $2 million in annual earnings. That means more than $50,000 in annual earnings tax revenue.

An on-site microbrewery will produce 5,000 barrels of beer annually and will be open for public tours. A retail shop will sell Christian Moerlein memorabilia.

"The Moerlein Lager House in Cincinnati Riverfront Park will become an economic driver that will significantly propel Cincinnati's heritage tourism industry," Hardman said. "Patrons will experience what is authentic and unique about this city and its compelling history with every visit to the Moerlein Lager House."

Other elements of the first phase of the 45-acre, $120 million Cincinnati Riverfront Park are scheduled to open next April.

"This new establishment will contribute mightily to the vision of Cincinnati Riverfront Park as the ultimate destination park," said Willie Carden, Jr., director of Cincinnati Parks. "What's more, every member of the Moerlein Lager House team that is creating this unique restaurant and brewery is rooted in this community. They make their lives and livelihoods here and so they are driven to deliver a world-class restaurant and brewery to the citizens of Greater Cincinnati and to our region's new destination park. We have always had outstanding local talent in this community – and we are bringing the very best to the table on this project."

The Moerlein Lager House development team includes the City of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Park Board, the Christian Moerlein Brewing Company, the Cunningham Restaurant Group, Tilsley + Associates Architects, Schumacher Dugan Construction, and Cincinnati Growth Partners.

Previous reading on BC:
Lease agreement, development team set for Moerlein Lager House (6/30/10)
Army Corps awards first contract for riverfront park (6/10/10)
Women's Committee announces new initiative for riverfront park (6/1/10)
New construction updates for riverfront park (5/24/10)
With Moerlein move, OTR to see first brewing since 2005 (4/19/10)


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