Highly anticipated HUB on Main closer to opening in Hamilton’s revitalized Main Street corridor

The building soon to be occupied by the HUB on Main bar and eatery (HUB stands for Hamilton's Urban Backyard) should open on Labor Day. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Caption
The building soon to be occupied by the HUB on Main bar and eatery (HUB stands for Hamilton's Urban Backyard) should open on Labor Day. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

The next few weeks will be big for revitalization of Hamilton’s Main Street business corridor.

The HUB on Main bar and eatery (with dining options provided by food trucks) should open Labor Day weekend as the building at 501 Main St. has seen plenty of work inside and out.

And as the Journal-News reported last week, the Billy Yanks burger restaurant and bar, operated by Cincinnati’s well-regarded Cafeo Hospitality Group, plans to open Aug. 13 at 201 Main St. All six newly restored apartments above Billy Yanks have been leased since early June.

Several kinds of work crews were active last week at HUB on Main — HUB stands for Hamilton’s Urban Backyard — improving the building at Main and F streets that some people had considered a good candidate for demolition. In recent days there have been painters, carpenters, backhoe and dump-truck operators, among others participating in the $500,000-plus renovation.

On Thursday, the beer-garden-style backyard at HUB was being constructed. Storm sewers were being installed for the parking lot behind the property and a drain system created beneath the artificial turf that will cover the backyard area because heavy foot traffic would destroy natural grass.

The family-family establishment will have a “food-truck court,” with three food-truck partners who will be at HUB regularly, plus room for three more when larger crowds are expected. There also will be live-music options.

“We’ll always have food at the HUB,” said Dave Ernst, an owner of HUB on Main LLC, along with his wife, Emily, and Jeff and Gina Bucalo. Their goal is to create a family-friendly place, during warm weather and cold, where friends and teams can gather and have fun, including those visiting the enormous under-construction Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill indoor sports complex, to open at the end of this year.

HUB on Main’s bar will have 16 beer taps, focusing on craft beers from southwest Ohio, including Hamilton, with other domestic beers, mixed drinks and wine.

The building soon to be occupied by the HUB on Main bar and eatery (HUB stands for Hamilton's Urban Backyard) should open on Labor Day. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Caption
The building soon to be occupied by the HUB on Main bar and eatery (HUB stands for Hamilton's Urban Backyard) should open on Labor Day. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

In coming days, after the backyard area is leveled, sidewalks and concrete pads that will support fire pits will be poured. Rain gutters were being installed on the building and workers were almost ready to pour protective polyurethane over the building’s original wooden floors.

A building with character

“We’re going to embrace the character of the 165-year-old building,” Ernst said. said Dave Ernst, an owner of HUB on Main LLC, along with his wife, Emily, and Jeff and Gina Bucalo.

The building has had “multiple patch jobs, walls being removed, all that stuff, over time,” Ernst said. “So we’re going to embrace the character. There’s even news articles from 1960 when the Marimid Gift Ghop moved to this location, one of their remodel things was they put splatter paint on the wood floors.”

“Well, we got to that splatter paint on the wood floors, and some of it will come up, and some of it won’t,” Ernst said. “So we’re just going to embrace it and leave it. Splattered paint on hardwood floors. I guess that’s what you did back then. I don’t know.”

They hope to salvage a Marimid sign and use it as a decoration inside. Space for a 2-bedroom/2-bath apartment to be built upstairs has been gutted, with the area being framed.

The building soon to be occupied by the HUB on Main bar and eatery (HUB stands for Hamilton's Urban Backyard) should open on Labor Day. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Caption
The building soon to be occupied by the HUB on Main bar and eatery (HUB stands for Hamilton's Urban Backyard) should open on Labor Day. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

The bar top, created by First Ward Wood Company on C Street, is awaiting installation and final finishing. Bar equipment is expected the next few days. The backyard will have 16 picnic tables built by Hamilton High School students at Butler Tech.

“The bar equipment should arrive within the next week or so,” he said. “We just finished prepping the back building for the walk-in cooler and the storage facility for our longer-term food-truck partners.”

“I’ve had a ton of people say, ‘They should have torn that building down, but you guys saved it.’ They can’t believe the transformation from three or four months ago to what it is now.”

This is what the building soon to be occupied by the HUB on Main bar (HUB stands for Hamilton's Urban Backyard) looked like before its renovation. NICK GRAHAM/SAFF
Caption
This is what the building soon to be occupied by the HUB on Main bar (HUB stands for Hamilton's Urban Backyard) looked like before its renovation. NICK GRAHAM/SAFF

Billy Yanks on Friday the 13th

Meanwhile, at Billy Yanks, “We’re going to open up strong Friday the 13th,” said general manager Jason Campbell, who was the chef at the well-regarded Incline Public House in Cincinnati’s Price Hill neighborhood. That restaurant overlooks downtown Cincinnati from the west, high above the city.

“Our focus is going to be burgers. We’ll be doing smash-burger style, with the double patties,” he said. “We’ll have our signature Billy Burger, and then we’ll have five or six specialty burgers that I’m excited to introduce to Hamilton.”

“I think we’ll be able to draw two different clientele,” Campbell said. “The main dining room, we’re going to be focused on the family side of things, getting families in here. And then we do have the bourbon bar that’s going to have its own kind of concept, an appetizer menu, high-end cocktails, wines.”

The Billy Yanks bourbon bar on Main Street is nearing completion, with hopes of a late-July opening. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Caption
The Billy Yanks bourbon bar on Main Street is nearing completion, with hopes of a late-July opening. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

ExploreWhat to expect from the Agave & Rye restaurant coming to Hamilton