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

Even before Agave & Rye opened its first Ohio location at Liberty Center, owners of the chain of trendy tequila/bourbon bars inside Mexican-inspired restaurants sought a location in Hamilton.

But at the time, company CEO Yavonne Sarber said they couldn’t find a location. The Journal-News last week first reported that Agave & Rye was chosen by a city panel to locate in the former Ritzi Body Shop near the corner of Main and E streets.

A development company called Local Development will hold the development agreement with the city, with a pledge to spend $2.5 million developing the property. Agave & Rye, while not the developer, is designing the space and has a 10-year agreement with Local Development.

The Liberty Center location opened in October 2019. The Hamilton restaurant will have something Liberty does not: 15 to 20 video games that are free to customers.

Agave & Rye’s Hamilton location should open in April of 2022, Sarber said.

Hamilton has a lot in common with Covington, Ky., where the company opened its first location.

“We were trying to find a location in Hamilton before we opened Liberty,” Sarber said. “We wanted to so badly come in there, but there were just no opportunities. So obviously, when this came up, and it came up pretty quickly, we were, like, ‘Heck, yes, we want to get in there,’ so it’s a wonderful thing.”

“It kind of reminded us a little bit of what happened in Covington (with recent development). A little bit in Troy, actually, as well. We’ve been overwhelmed with how successful that location has been.”

Hamilton’s Community Improvement Corporation members voted Thursday to sell the property for $1 in exchange for the $2.5 million investment, and Agave & Rye will lease from the developer.

The city paid $365,000 for the 0.62-acre property last summer, after a retirement in the Ritzi family, which owned the automobile repair and body shop for 83 years.

The restaurants feature a selection of 87 tequilas and 87 bourbons and serve a variety of tacos.

With the under-construction Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill scheduled to open at the end of this year, “it’s an already bustling community,” Sarber said. “We felt as though there would be an awesome opportunity for a lot of patio area.”

There will be seating for about 100 between the former service station at the front of the property and the large back building, where the kitchen, bar and dining tables will be. The front bar will sell alcohol for carryout in the Downtown Outdoor Refreshment Area.

There also will be a covered patio area that can serve 250 more people, “so it’s massive,” she said. The patio area will be able to be enclosed during cold weather. The company is opening other restaurants in Lexington, Ky.; near Newark, Ohio; and Indianapolis.

Agave now has seven restaurants open, and Hamilton’s will probably be the 12th or 13th.

“We’re so overwhelmed and grateful with the response that we are reading on social media from the community, and it really makes our hearts full,” she said.

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

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