- Eric Schwartzberg Staff Writer
J Austin’s Riverbank Cafe in Hamilton closed its doors permanently on Sunday.
After three years operating at 102 Main St., owners Ken and Gloria Riley are turning to other projects.
Demand has slowed at the location as diners enjoy more dining options with numerous new restaurants, as well as the convenience of delivery and to-go options in the local market, according Michael McCabe, a spokesman for the Rileys, who operate as the Legacy Restaurant Group.
McCabe said there is “a delicate balance” required for a full-service restaurant between available staff, consistent demand and daily operations and that ultimately, “there is not necessary volume for consistent dining room operations to continue.”
Ken Riley said market factors also influenced the decision to close.
“We’ve seen such a surge in demand for catering, delivery and to-go in our other operations and we believe that is putting pressure on traditional dining room-focused operations like J Austin’s,” Riley said.
This is the third closing this year for longtime restaurateurs.
In January, they closed J Austin’s American Eatery in Springdale, a business that operated under the name “Riley’s” for 36 years.
In August, the Rileys and their son James announced they were closing the Walt’s Barbeque location in Hamilton.
J Austin’s Riverbank Cafe opened in September 2014, replacing The Riverbank Cafe, which closed its doors in July 2013 after six years in business.
Riley said he and his wife love and enjoy the Hamilton community.
“There is tremendous growth being driven by so many great businesses and people and we continue to believe in this great place,” Riley said. “Gloria and I are thankful for the support of all of the people who have enjoyed J Austin’s. After nearly 40 years in this industry we’ve made many difficult decisions and we think that our other projects will benefit from our new focus.”
Hamilton City Manager Joshua Smith expressed gratitude to the Rileys for their investment and efforts in the city.
“Understandably circumstances change, and that being said, we are working closely with the building owner to find a dynamic counterpunch to occupy a great building across from Quarter Barrel Brewery & Pub,” he said. “With (the soon-to-open) Quarter Barrel’s farm-to-table menu, craft beer and rooftop patio (across the street), we believe the Riverbank Building will be very desirable from a new restaurant perspective, to occupy.”
Smith said while the city has work left to accomplish, “2018 is shaping up to be a watershed year in terms of business activity and capital investment in the Main Street area.”
The Walt’s Barbeque location in Colerain Twp. will honor J Austin’s Riverbank Cafe gift cards. Employees will be offered interviews and potential job opportunities at that restaurant.