A Middletown restaurant recently completed a months-long renovation project that saw it change not only its name, but also its direction.
Bourbon’s Craft Kitchen & Bar, 2231 N. Verity Parkway, operated as The Stand before its owners opted for a complete re-do. The revamped and renamed eatery had originally been set to open back in the spring, but opened Nov. 13 instead.
The Journal-News recently spoke with general manager Abe Shtawi, and here are five things to know about the new restaurant:
1. ‘Endless bourbon of all kinds’
Shtawi said the new business includes “endless bourbon of all kinds” — 40, by our count — plus wine, craft beer and a full bar complete with craft cocktails
“Our cocktails are really more structured toward a mixologist because there’s a lot of creativity that’s involved with those,” he said.
There’s also bourbon barrels in which the business is aging its own Old Fashioned concoction.
2. Majority of the menu is new
The restaurant’s menu features “gourmet street food” such as steak burgers, broasted boneless wings, hot dogs and fresh guacamole. There’s also adventurous fare such as queso poutine fries, white cheddar mac ‘n’ cheese, gyro tacos, an Asian brisket taco and an early customer favorite, chicken and waffles.
“That’s one of our best selling options,” he said. “People love it.”
Bourbon’s Craft Kitchen & Bar is also using a higher degree of quality ingredients, including an array of cheeses like Smoked Gouda, Blue-Marbled Swiss and Muenster, Shtawi said.
Desserts include Belgium waffles and skillet cookies.
3. Popular old menu item upgraded
Among the eight different hot dogs, including a “Dog of the Week” is customer favorite “The Superman,” which previously featured a quarter-pound, all-beef Nathan’s hotdog with American cheese, cole slaw, pieces of bacon, a homemade sauce and crushed barbecue potato chips.
Now known as “Grippo’s Dog,” the new culinary creation is the same Nathan’s hot dog, but now comes with a Stout bun, Muenster cheese bourbon smoked hickory bacon, homemade cole slaw, a malt vinegar sauce and crushed Grippo’s potato chips on top.
“We didn’t want people to have the old image in mind,” Shtawi said.
4. Redesign aims for a new vibe
The restaurant, which seats about 50 people, was redesigned to bring the “modern, urban, contemporary” vibe of Cincinnati’s Over-The-Rhine neighborhood to Middletown, Shtawi said.
“We wanted to bring that Cincinnati feel to Middletown, so we have a lot of reclaimed wood, (Edison) lights with the industrial feel,” he said. “It had a modern twist on it with the furniture, (including) marble tables, plus wooden shelves all throughout.”
5. Revamp a response to customer feedback
After approximately two years of operating as The Stand, the restaurant’s owners listened to what guests had to say and sought to tailor make the new experience to their liking, Shtawi said.
“Everyone was asking for beer and bourbon with their hot dogs and people were asking for more things on the menu,” he said. “A little more culinary cuisine. People watch Food Network and they want those flairs with their food. We didn’t have a kitchen in here before, so it was hard to do a lot of that.”