Moerlein Lager House to open August 2011, new details announced

Details on the much-anticipated Moerlein Lager House were announced today by Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory and the development team which consists of the Cincinnati Park Board, Christian Moerlein Brewing Company, Cunningham Restaurant Group, Tilsley & Associates Architects, Schumacher-Dugan Construction, Cincinnati Growth Partners and the City of Cincinnati. The $4 million restaurant and microbrewery will boast a large outdoor biergarten capable of seating 600 people in addition to the 500 people that can be held inside the restaurant.

“This is huge for the Park Board,” said Willie F. Carden, Jr., Director of Cincinnati Parks. “The Moerlein name is synonymous with the history of Cincinnati and beer, and it’s just huge to bring that back. The Moerlein Lager House will really identify the city with its brewing and beer heritage.”

The brewery portion of the Moerlein Lager House will produce 5,000 barrels of beer annually and will be open for tours. Menu items will also be prepared to compliment the beer and replicate items often found on menus in Over-the-Rhine’s 19th Century biergartens.

“Our mission is to breathe new life and vigor into the grand brewing tradition that made Cincinnati one of the world’s greatest brewing meccas over a century ago,” said Greg Hardman President & CEO of Christian Moerlein Brewing Company. “The Moerlein Lager House in Cincinnati Riverfront Park will become an economic driver that will significantly propel Cincinnati’s heritage tourism industry. Patrons will experience what is authentic and unique about this city and its compelling history with every visit to the Moerlein Lager House.”

The development team stated that the 15,000 square-foot, two-story building will be built to LEED standards, and will include a geothermal heating and cooling system, green roof, and sun shading features among other things. The team also said that they have set a goal of 30% Small Business Enterprise hiring on this project.

The new structure is being built in conjunction with phase 1 of the new $120 million Cincinnati Riverfront Park, and once complete, will feature expansive views of Great American Ball Park, the Ohio River, Paul Brown Stadium, Roebling Suspension Bridge, and the new park.

“The design of the Moerlein Lager House was inspired by its magnificent location, the buildings surrounding it, and the design elements of the park, created by Sasaki Associates of Watertown, Massachusetts,” said Greg Tilsley, founder, Tilsley & Associates Architects. “ We wanted to conceive an almost unexpected, iconic building that would convey both a sense of our region’s future and honor for its past. So the dramatic use of glass and steel on the exterior is ‘outward’ and ‘forward’ looking’; while materials for the interiors, such as wood for beamed ceilings, bricks from former breweries, and stone are more reminiscent of the region’s legendary brewing heritage.”

In June 2010, Cincinnati City Council approved a 40-year lease for the Moerlein Lager House. The terms of the agreement maintain the City of Cincinnati as the owner of the restaurant site with no rent being paid in the first year of operation. After that point, the Moerlein Lager House will $150,000 rent in 2012, and $225,000 in rent annually each year after that. The agreement also requires payment of 1.875% of the total gross sales to the City. According to officials, this money will go towards covering operation costs of the new 45-acre Cincinnati Riverfront Park.

“Every little bit helps because what is not raised will be covered by the taxpayers,” Carden said about the the park’s costs. “We are doing everything we can to mitigate taxpayer responsibility and our seven different revenue centers at the Cincinnati Riverfront Park, including the Moerlein Lager House and one other restaurant, will help to do that.”

Construction on the new Moerlein Lager House will being fall 2010 and is expected to create 150 construction and 100 full-time jobs. Once complete in August 2011, the Moerlein Lager House will be open 11am to midnight Sunday through Wednesday, and 11am to 2am Thursday through Saturday.  It will feature live entertainment and is expected to become a major anchor of Cincinnati’s central riverfront redevelopment.

“This new establishment will contribute mightily to the vision of Cincinnati Riverfront Park as the ultimate destination park,” said Willie F. Carden, Jr., Director of Cincinnati Parks. “What’s more, every member of the Moerlein Lager House team that is creating this unique restaurant and brewery is rooted in this community. They make their lives and livelihoods here and so they are driven to deliver a world-class restaurant and brewery to the citizens of Greater Cincinnati and to our region’s new destination park. We have always had outstanding local talent in this community—and we are bringing the very best to the table on this project.”

  • Zack

    Bummed about the delay (original opening was rumored to be Opening day 2011). But it will be worth the wait.

  • I am a huge fan of this structure and love how it interacts with the park, creates considerable outdoor space, and the materials seem to mesh well with GAB. My one complaint: the building turns its back to Main Street (Joe Nuxhall Way.) This could have been designed better to atleast include windows, or outdoor seating along this side of the building as well. I see this will be used for loading dock space, etc. and atleast there is some use of windows, but again, this could have been designed in such a way to consider street activity along Main.

  • I like the “Moer to Go” portion and the colors look as if they’ll complement Great American Ballpark nicely. Very exciting.

    It would be great to begin to see reports on the expect tax revenue stream expected from these properties, from added sales tax revenues on sales, income tax revenues from employees and residents of the project and property tax revenues expected.

  • Bobby

    Greg you have a point but I think it hs enough open green space and window so it looks welcoming from the norht portion. Can’t wait to see this built.

  • Joe M:

    The new jobs will generate over $2 million in annual earnings, which equates to over $50,000 in earnings tax revenue.

  • Justin

    Structure is OK. I wish the design would harken back to the unique look of the old Moerlein brewery so that there was some continuation there. (Think red brick, lots of arches, etc.)

  • Justin

    I agree with Greg.. the side facing the stadium isn’t very engaging. At least have some something else other than metal doors that seems right out of an industrial area. Flowers?

  • Zack

    They do have 3 large murals facing JNWay.

    Funny thing is Justing, the first thought in my mind when i think “brewery” is industrial setting. Heck Brooklyn Brewery uses its garage/operations as a rathskeller.

    Additionally, the outdoor and windowed area will face the park 12 months out of the year. GABP is only used 6 months (hopefully 7 this year)

  • Justin

    To me the back just doesn’t look very inviting (last picture). Maybe some ivy growing up the side would improve the look without forfeiting space or adding something that needs a lot of maintenance.

  • Matt G

    I’m just Justin on this, having it look something like the old brewery would by a nice touch. Cincy’s an old city with beautiful old architercture really modern designs just don’t look right in that context.

  • I do not like the idea of trying to recreate the past. Especially in a completely new area that will be made up of contemporary architectural styles.

    Christian Moerlein is in the process of restoring a historic structure in Over-the-Rhine where they will move their brewing operations soon. This will accomplish what I think most of you are looking for, while also remaining in context. Best thing about it is that you could go check out the Christian Moerlein Brewery in Over-the-Rhine, then hop on the Cincinnati Streetcar and get dropped off right at the front door of the Moerlein Lager House for some more drink and food.

    Also, the Moerlein Lager House is reportedly going to used reclaimed brick from a historic Cincinnati brewery for an interior wall. Stay tuned for more details on that, but it sounds promising.

  • Zack

    i think UC campus is a great example of working modern design into an old area.

  • Zack

    Not to bombard the post, but has there ever been any mention of how Moerlein talked developers into letting them build this structure separate from the rest of the structural portion of the Banks? The original plans show no buildings in the current location. And there is ample retail/restaurant space in multiple areas.

    Not complaining, just curious.

  • Zack:

    The Moerlein Lager House is actually located in the Cincinnati Riverfront Park, not within The Banks development.

    There will be one more restaurant space within the Cincinnati Riverfront Park in the same location but on the western side of the park.

  • Zack

    Thanks Randy. I guess i get caught using “Banks” universally.

    I may have pitched this prior, but I still think its a good move to solidify the mortar of the Park/Banks:

    Make a pitch to Montgomery Inn to move from the Boathouse to the park.

    Amongst the cons of the idea are the Boathouse’s secluded location, ample parking, LARGE space.

    I just think between the MLH and the Mont. Inn, the area is steeping with tradition, culinary delight, Cincy flavor, and two locations that will bring Hamilton county and out of towners to city’s welcoming mat along the river. Plus, you can go out to eat then walk to the square minutes, rather than a half hour.

  • nick

    anyone know where to apply for employment at the lager house? ive been googling, but ive found squat.

  • WantThePast

    Just wish it had a little more of a OTR look to it. Can you put a brick or two into the design? Also, I do not give a d… about green!!!!

  • Anonymous

    I really like the modern design bringing Moerlein into 2012. I am sure they pay homage to their OTR roots with all the pictures & historic posters. I am ready to go today!