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Expect bold flavors at Pies & Pints

Customers of Pies & Pints’ new Liberty Center restaurant opening this fall can expect bold flavors made with high quality ingredients for a fair price, said co-owner Rob Lindeman.

Pies & Pints will break into the Cincinnati market with its unique pizza flavors and beer combinations when it opens in October at the $350 million Liberty Center development, under construction now.

Here’s just a sampling of the specialty pies on the menu: Grape & Gorgonzola, Mediterranean Shrimp and Cuban Pork.

About the flavors — “They’re not safe,” Lindeman says.

The menu also lists a Classic pizza featuring homemade sausage, pepperoni, in-house roasted mushrooms and banana peppers, topping off the restaurant’s own sauce recipe. “That’s about as safe as it gets. Everything else, like our Cuban pulled pork pizza, we slow roast the pork six to eight hours in-house. Our Chipotle Chicken pizza, it’s got a real intense heat to it that isn’t overpowering, but it’s got bite to it,” Lindeman said.

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“That’s the thing, when you’ve eaten at Pies & Pints, you know you’ve eaten at Pies & Pints,” he said.

Besides red grapes on a cheese pizza flaked with rosemary, one of the restaurant’s other unique features is its emphasis on beer.

Diners can expect to see 36 draft beer handles, filled out by locally-brewed choices. Each location has root beer on tap and Pabst Blue Ribbon, Lindeman said. The rest of the options include local and craft beers.

Every server and bartender has Cicerone beer certification, comparable to a wine sommelier credential, and servers can recommend drink complements for meals.

Pies & Pints employs a “beer dude” — that’s the title on the business card — who facilitates continuing education for staff.

“That’s how passionate we are about craft beer. That’s what’s we do and it’s not to be pretentious or snobby, it’s to be educational,” Lindeman said.

Lindeman met with the Journal-News on the April 20 opening day of a new restaurant on High Street in the Short North area of Columbus, to give a preview of what future patrons can expect in Liberty Twp.

Pies & Pints was founded in West Virginia, but Lindeman and partners bought the business in 2011. It’s now based in the Columbus area. And while the first Greater Cincinnati Pies & Pints will open at Liberty Center, the restaurant is already located at developer Steiner & Associates’ other retail centers The Greene in Beavercreek and Easton Town Center in Columbus.

Despite being a growing chain, Lindeman said Pies & Pints is managed like a mom-and-pop establishment.

“We’re hands-on. We’re in our restaurants constantly,” he said.

“There’s not a detail in here that we haven’t personally designed or touched and it’s the same way with our food. Our food, it’s made from scratch in our kitchen.”

Lindeman’s past experience was as president and chief executive officer of Max & Erma’s Restaurants Inc. But one of the biggest differences between growing a publicly-traded chain and a smaller, private one, is there are no expectations.

Currently, there are eight Pies & Pints locations.

“I could open no stores for the next five years and be fine. Or, we’re very opportunistic… when we see real estate that makes sense for us in a market, we take it down and we do it, but only when it makes sense for us,” he said.

Liberty Center is the name of the mixed-use mega complex being built in Butler County’s Liberty Twp. near the intersection of Interstate 75, Ohio 129 and Liberty Way. Three anchor tenants — Dillard’s department store, dinner-and-movie theater CineBistro and Dick’s Sporting Goods — have been announced along with AC Hotels by Marriott.

Estimates are for Liberty Center’s retailers, restaurants and other businesses to create approximately 3,500 new jobs in Butler County by 2018, according to Liberty Twp. Economic Development Director Caroline McKinney.

Other previously announced restaurants to date include Brio Tuscan Grille, Cheesecake Factory, Kona Grill, Rusty Bucket and Flip Side.

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