RESTAURANT ROUNDUP: Updates on eateries, coffee shops and breweries in Butler and Warren counties

Several new restaurants, breweries, coffee shops and other hotspots with an array of cuisines have opened across the region this month after a few longtime restaurants have decided to close their doors.

A few of the dining establishments have re-emphasized their purpose, such as Kitty Brew Café and J&E Rootbeer Stand.

In addition to the newest restaurant openings, others will be coming to the area soon or have announced changes. If you know of a restaurant opening in the area, or one that we’ve missed, email us.

Here’s the latest roundup of culinary establishments:

Kitty Brew Café in Mason

Coffee and cats. The two have a foothold in the world’s collective heart, and the cat café combines them in the most delightful way possible.

Since the cat café trend has swept the nation and the world, what starts as a delightful day drinking coffee and playing with cats often ends in adoption and a life saved. In 2017 this trend reached the Cincinnati area with the Kitty Brew Café in Mason, owned by Jenni Barrett.

The concept of a cat café is simple. A person may buy coffee with cat-themed names such as the tortie (mocha and peanut butter) or the purple catnip (lavender, espresso, and vanilla), non-coffee beverages such as tea or smoothies, or baked goods (as well as non-food cat memorabilia such as stickers, keychains, and pens) and, for $11, spend an hour in a separate space while cats run, play and sleep around them.

If a patron decides they want to adopt a particular cat, they may fill out an application, which will be sent to the rescue the cat came from, and within 24 hours they may take their new furry friend home.

Kitty Brew has rescue cats of all ages from Animal Friends Humane Society, Paws Cause, Hart of Cincinnati and His Hand Extended Sanctuary. The partnerships with these rescues saves the cats’ lives and makes life easier for those working at the rescues by freeing up space at their facilities.

Kitty Brew Café is located at 6011 Tylersville Road in Mason.

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Lebanon Brewing Company

Warren County’s newest brewery and eatery recently opened in the city’s former firehouse at 20 W. Silver St.

Nathan Ridgley said Lebanon Brewing Company is the first brewery in Lebanon in about 15 years since another local brewery, Mighty Casey’s, closed.

“The old fire station is a perfect place for a brewery,” he said. “It’s off of Broadway and it’s in the DORA (Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area).”

Ridgley, who is a Lebanon native, said his group has invested $1.3 million to transform the fire station into a taproom and a place for the community to hang out.

“The Lebanon Brewing Company is an exciting addition to Lebanon’s outstanding downtown and is a great example of a public – private partnership that enhances the economic vitality of our Central Business District,” said City Manager Scott Brunka. “We are pleased to be able to work with this locally owned business to bring a new food and entertainment venue for residents and visitors to enjoy.

The brewery features a seven-barrel system that can make 210 gallons of beer in a single batch, Ridgley said. He said it can make 500 to 1,000 barrels in a year. Jake Borsvold is the brewer and a partner in the brewery. Ridgley said Borsvold “has done a great job in setting up the equipment to brew the craft beer.”

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Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Shepherd’s Ground Coffee Shop

As business partners, Gillespie-Wormald and her father Tom Gillespie own the recently opened Shepherd’s Ground Coffee Shop in Ross. In addition to being a father and daughter team, they also serve as co-pastors at New Vision Church in Harrison.

“I am most excited to get to know the people of Ross, and how we can best serve them. I’m really interested to see what items they cling to, and the items they don’t like. I’m really interested to see what kind of people we draw,” said Emilee Gillespie-Wormald, co-owner of Shepherd’s Ground Coffee Shop. “I’m just thrilled to see who comes in and who we’ll have the opportunity to get to know.”

Gillespie-Wormald said, “the Lord really put it on my heart to open a coffee shop.” After losing her job due to COVID-19, She said her family and the team at Deeper Roots Coffee encouraged her and stewarded her through the whole process.

The coffee shop can accommodate up to 25 people with tables and chairs inside the main seating area. In the coming months, Shepherd’s Ground Coffee Shop plans to add a drive-through.

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Moeller Brew Barn

Butler County has opened one of its newest breweries this month — Moeller Brew Barn. The Monroe brewery will be the fourth Moeller location.

“It’s been a fast-paced summer to put our final touches on the renovation of the taproom and brewery,” said Nick Moeller, founder of Moeller Brew Barn. “It’s a thrill to build a team with a common goal — to invite people in, make them feel at home, and enjoy a pint.”

Moeller Brew Barn was founded in Maria Stein, Ohio in 2015, followed by the opening of locations in Troy and Dayton. The 25,875 square-foot Monroe facility is the most southern location for Moeller Brew Barn. There are plans for a fifth taproom to open in Plain City, Ohio.

There are several items, including three LeSourdsville Skyride chairs, original park signage and several vintage photographs, displayed throughout Moeller Brew Barn. The items are being leased for free from the city of Monroe to the brewery.

Moeller Brew Barn is located at 6550 Hamilton Lebanon Road. The taproom and beer garden are located in the former Rivertown Brewery & Barrel House.

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Opening Soon: J&E Rootbeer Stand

A popular drive-in restaurant that has been closed this year will reopen in Middletown next month, according to its new owners.

Brooke Solomito, 24, and her stepsister, Cortney Vitori, 35, have purchased the J&E Rootbeer Stand building and property at 6301 Germantown Road and hope to have it open by the middle of October.

Solomito’s father and Vitori’s stepfather, Dr. Joseph Solomito, a Middletown cardiologist, was trying to reach the owners to see if they were interested in selling. When he couldn’t locate them, he drove by the business one day after working at Atrium Medical Center and a woman was cleaning the parking lot.

“Right place at right time,” the doctor said.

J&E Rootbeer Stand, which has been open for more than 35 years, was a seasonal business, but the new owners plan to be open year around. And they’re not changing the menu. Customers can expect the same tasting footlong hotdogs, French fries and root beer and possibly some new items, they said.

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Heather’s Café up for sale

Heather’s Café remains on the market as the owner “waits for someone to take it to the next level.” The business is for sale.

Since 2009, owner Heather Sukola has been working long hours each day to operate the eatery.

Sukola is ready to turn the page to begin the next chapter in her life, adding that she’s ready to move on. She put the property at 505 S. Main St. up for sale before the pandemic and has had numerous interested parties that have looked over the property. Prospective buyers have had various ideas about future uses of the property as both a restaurant and a non-restaurant.

“I’m not giving it away,” Sukola said. “I’m waiting for someone to take it to the next level.”

The downtown Springboro property has undergone numerous updates/amenities to the interior and exterior of the structures.

The main house has 2,500 square feet, while the barn/man cave has another 650 square feet. In addition, the property has about 6,000 square feet of patio that can seat 300 people.

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Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Red’s Hamburger Shop reopening paused

Red’s Hamburger Shop at 103 S. Riverside Drive in New Miami recently announced on Facebook at the end of August that they would be turning the business over to new owners, Walley Estes and his two silent business partners. However, Journal-News recently corresponded directly with the business, who reported the deal did not move forward. A new owner has not purchased the business, and there’s not a future opening date set at this time.

Red’s Hamburger Shop, an iconic Butler County restaurant, traces its roots back to the early 1960s. It was briefly Mel’s Diner last decade before reopening in 2020 under its old moniker. Craig and Yolanda Beurelein closed the restaurant earlier this year.

Red’s has become well known for the traditional Red’s hamburgers, French fries and onion rings. The restaurant also offered breakfast.

Beuerlein said on Monday that he has been receiving personal messages as well as questions on the Red’s Hamburger Shop Facebook page “wondering what is going on with the new owners and the opening, so I’m going to try and make a long story short.”

He said, “Wally and his partners never actually bought Red’s. I had them on a one-year lease with (an) option to buy.”

Beuerlein explained in his Facebook post that Estes went through all the inspection processes and Red’s received its license..

“As the process was going on, Wally and the partners were in disagreement over business terms and Wally and his wife chose to end the lease and step away. Wally, his wife, as well as my wife and myself left on good terms. We are still under contract to list the restaurant for sale through Century 21. I have no plans to open any time soon as my wife has some health issues that we need (to) address,” Beuerlein wrote.

Staff Writers Rick McCrabb, Ed Richter, Natalie Jones and contributing writer Caroline Beckman gathered information included in this article.

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