Relish Group closes Grammer’s

Grammer’s bar, established in 1872 and a veritable Over-the-Rhine institution, has announced its closure today. The 132-year-old establishment was known for years as a home away from home for Cincinati’s German population, hosting everyone from the Cincinnati Symphony to the Reds.

Grammer’s re-opened in the late winter of 2008, serving beer and a variety of German foods.

Martin Wade, owner of Relish Restaurant Group, purchased Grammer’s from former city councilman and Over-the-Rhine raconteur, Jim Tarbell, who had owned it since 1984. It was the oldest pre-Prohibition German restaurant to remain in Over-the-Rhine. Although tts recent history is one of hipsters and late night dance parties – a decidedly different crowd than the German Singing Baker society to which the space was once home.

Despite the differences, Grammer’s has been beloved by several generations as a unique neighborhood watering hole. Sources say Wade plans to reopen Grammer’s as a restaurant, though there are currently no details as to what type of restaurant and what timeline that would entail. Staff say that the news came as a shock to them after having worked worked throughout Bockfest weekend, serving scores of people and reportedly making a large profit.

“I’m shocked, insulted and disgusted that immediately following one of the most successful weekends in Grammer’s history, this iconic venue was deemed expendable,” said Gavin Richardson, sales and marketing manager for Grammer’s. “This is the end of an era.”

Jim Tarbell at Grammer’s photograph provided by Joe Wessels.

  • CincyCapell

    Marty always says that he has plans to reopen his closed establishments, but that’s just so much BS. Greenup, for example, will never reopen, and his big announcement of having his chefs buy their restaurants from him was just a dog & pony show.

  • It’s not surprising. The Wades allowed Grammer’s to fall right back into disrepair. They didn’t put a dime into the place and after the fire the destiny seemed to be set for the historic establishment.

    I am very curious as to what will happen with the establishment since it poses such great potential for OTR especially in that section which has yet to be revitalized. This also begs the question if the rest of the rumors are true about the remaining Relish Group restaurants being shuttered.

  • Emily Schneider

    Depressing. I was just discussing Grammer’s today with a colleague, who used to go on weekend nights after Symphony concerts back in the ’60s (as a teenager, with his mom). He said the staff was very German at that time and lots of orchestra members hung out there after concerts; it was apparently a wild and fun place.

  • Zachary Schunn

    What?!? I was just there on Saturday and the place was packed. This is a staple of OTR and for all the good bars opening–MOTR, the Drinkery–nowhere has the history or unique charm this place does. This place means so many things to so many people, and it certainly has the support of the community. This makes absolutely no sense to me from a cultural or business standpoint.

    Sad day.

  • Jonathan Taylor Thomas

    Al Jazeera’s coverage of this event is superior.

  • M C

    This is terrible. The didn’t even announce it, a farewell gathering would have been beautiful to see it go in it’s current prime. Its environment and flavor will never be the same. Why did this come so suddenly? Obviously something isn’t being disclosed.

    Zachary, I agree with you completely. The community loves Grammer’s, Cincinnati is losing a part of itself.

    Sad day.

  • What? What could lead to its closure? As Randy said, they put absolutely nothing into this place, and yet dozens, maybe hundreds, of people would pack that place on the weekends. They could not have had a cash flow problem.

    As a side note, the Lackman is not nearly large enough for all these now-homeless hipsters.

  • A while back the Wades made it clear that they never intended to be restaurant backers, and stated that they were real estate investors at heart. It is my understanding that the Wades just want out of the restaurant business in general. Hopefully a capable ownership comes on board and reopens Grammer’s soon. Ideally better than before.

  • Jessica

    I am glad to hear this news. Yes, Grammer’s is a “cool” and “hip” place with all the dance parties and what not. But that building has so much history to it and has so much potential to be so much greater than what it is recently. I would love to see it reopen and focus more on the German side of it like it was in the past. That would be an enormous upgrade. I just hope they do something with the building it would be a shame to see it just waste away.

  • Ryan

    It seems like this article has the wrong headline. How about, “Grammer’s plans to clean up and reopen as a more inclusive neighborhood establishment.” The body of the article would include the same details, but the spin would be more positive. “The emergence of several new bars in Over the Rhine have competed with Grammer’s clientelle, forcing the establishment to rethink its product. Prospects are hopeful for Grammer’s to re-open as a restaurant.”

  • What will happen to MidPoint? Where will the huge outdoor concert space be? Fountain Square is free, Washington Park is closed until the 2012 or 2013 MidPoint, and there really are no other extremely large spaces to have an outdoor stage of that size. Could MidPoint still use the space and supply its own bartenders and personnel? This seems pretty unlikely as it is all volunteer based. Hopefully someone brings the bar back soon.

  • Kate D

    Although some were put off by the decidedly hipster vibe Grammers took on the past few years, the main point is that it was a successful business in what is a relatively undeveloped part of OTR, blocks away from some of the most successful revitalization. I hope that they reopen sucessfully in whatever iteration it takes on, and share the concern over what MP will do for the festival this fall. The most important thing is that this beautiful, historic building not fall into disrepair and be forgotten. OTR has lost too many beautiful buildings and it truly would be a shame for Grammers to join those ranks. I hope the Relish group will do right by this place, the folks that would patronize it and Jim Tarbell’s efforts to keep it going.

  • Martin Wade

    I am an ass

  • Wosa

    OH NO!!! Now all those poor hipsters are going to have to find a new place to get together and judge one another… poor hipsters.

  • Ian Webster

    It’s been awhile since I’ve been back to Grammer’s (maybe a month or two). And now I can’t go back for awhile!! Oh well, it was a great place, that, as someone else said, had its own unique charm and character. I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am nothing even close to the definition of a hipster (thank the gods), but I never really had a problem with them whenever I did go. Regardless of clientele, I liked this place and hope it comes back soon, whether the same or “better” (however one would define “better” in this instance).

  • CincyCapell

    @Eric-That’s a good question. Grammer’s wasn’t serving food (not really), they were just pouring beer, with minimal staffing levels. It’s hard not to make money doing that if you have any traffic at all; draught beer is very profitable.

    @Ryan-Don’t hold your breath, I’d bet that Wade will never reopen Grammer’s. He’ll likely try to sell or lease it to someone, but seeing how he did not put a dime into the joint it’s hard to believe that he’ll put the money into Grammer’s that’s required to reopen as a full on restaurant.

    @Randy-In all fairness, the Wade’s only started telling that story about being in the real estate and not the restaurant trade AFTER their restaurants started closing by the handful. Martin Wade made himself persona non grata in this city after the disgraceful manner in which he bullied Jean-Robert DeCavel, cheated him out of his profits in their former partnership, denied him the ability to make a living, and seized his personal belongings. The public soured on Wade and his Relish Group restaurants, and they are closing up shop one by one as a result. And you can look for Lavo to go next by the way, their beer and wine vendors tell me that business there has drastically declined from it’s peak a few years ago.

  • Jamie

    Oh no where are all the underage kids that are trying to being cooler than everyone going to go now?????

  • krs

    This was a good bar but I think they had a problem maintaining their sales numbers. They couldn’t have been very consistent. A packed crowd 2 nights a week some weeks. A packed crowd 4 nights one week. Then the next week they may only have one busy night. It wasn’t as consistent as the newer hipster hang outs. I personally liked the bar when the donauschwaben folks would be in there singing. Course that’s long before you hipsters gentrified otr and made everything awesome.

  • Grammer’s has gone through many incarnations, and while its most recent renovation (if you could call it that) wasn’t for everyone, I appreciate that it brought a lot of new people into and experiencing OTR who otherwise might have ended up at Northside Tavern. Us hipsters (starting to really hate that word) will adapt, but my bigger concern is about preserving this fantastic piece of Cincinnati history for the future.

  • Dave

    @TBoondoggle – I was wondering the same thing. It is/was the premier space at MPMF the last few years & I hope Dan & co. either knew this was coming or can easily work around the plans. I wonder if some of the outdoor space at the new Riverfront Park could be up & running by September.

  • Mr. Lahey

    I’m not entirely sure where people are getting the impression that the place was a “hipster” bar. I was there several weekends every month and saw all types of people. Were some of them dressed in clothes from the Urban Outfitter catalog? Absolutely. There were also middle-aged business people, college kids, OTR residents, white, black, asian, hispanic…that was the great thing about Grammer’s each and every night. Not only was it a place for everyone to come have free popcorn, buy a drink (or several), and have a good time but it also did so with a packed house nearly every time I was there.

    Obviously the owners have every right to do what they want with their business, but I also have every right to do what I want with my money. I’ll urge all my friends to do the same, and so should you. In fact, I can’t imagine what clientele would come to a higher-priced German-themed (certainly not authentic) restaurant in the heart of OTR. This would be the type of business usually relegated to suburban moms and dads, but I truly don’t see them coming to OTR just to get some salted, over-priced & easy-bake pretzels.

  • CEB

    Hey, you know what’s worse than a packed bar full of so called under-age, judgmental, hipsters every weekend?? Another gorgeous building in OTR sitting vacant, forgotten about, and in total disrepair for decades, which is exactly what is going to happen under the assholes at the Relish Group. You have such a problem with the clientele? Not exactly your scene? DON’T GO, easy as that. Doesn’t mean you still can’t appreciate what Grammer’s was doing for the art and music scene in our community. Cadillac Ranch and Blackfinn aren’t exactly my goddamn scene but that doesn’t mean I don’t support their right to exist. As far as I’m concerned every functioning bar, restaurant, and store downtown and in OTR is step in the right direction for this city, and it’s a damn shame to see another great place fall victim to shoddy ownership.

  • Chris Nascimento

    Sad loss of a great spot. This iconic Cincy landmark will truly be missed. It seems unlikely to me Wade will open a new restaurant there. The staff was poorly treated by the ownership & so was the building.

  • Zachary Schunn

    Lost in this discussion is what truly made this Grammer’s Bar. Say what you want about the history of the building, the patrons, and/or where this place will go or what it will become. But what made this a great bar was the incredible staff. An incredible staff that found out today, essentially with no warning, that the establishment they have poured their hearts and souls into to try to make a great place… is gone. They are left without jobs, and without a place to call their second home. It’s a shame the employees were not shown more respect, but such is that. Let’s all hope the best for them, and hope they cannot only find new jobs, but new homes.

  • M C

    @Wosa and @Jamie obviously weren’t supporting Grammer’s within the last couple years. @Mr. Lahey knows what he’s talking about. Depending on what day of the week, time of day, or event you were attending, there was a diversity in customers.

    The only way to change a specific scene or crowd at a bar is hosting different events and catering to different age groups or types of people. Grammer’s was doing a great job pleasing its loyal patrons. Cincinnati is growing, blooming in its arts, and restoring the beauty that is already there.

    Seeing Grammer’s go is definitely terrible for the music and indie culture. @TBoondoggle, I’d love to see it still running volunteer based this fall. I attended MPMF all three nights last year and volunteered selling merchandise for Tom Tom Club.

    @CincyCapell Why would Wade purchase the restaurant with all of the previous restaurant closings.

    Grammer’s closing isn’t only the loss of a bar or a weekend hangout, a part of Cincinnati’s current vibrant and rising culture has suddenly had door slammed in its face. Its history will also be lost if it doesn’t reopen quickly or attract the people that love Cincinnati for what it is and can be.

  • M C

    @Zacary Schunn Yes, let’s please not forget the wonderful staff. The staff definitely made Grammer’s happier and memorable. The ‘locals’ are always what makes a landmark establishment well loved.

    Thank you for all of your hard work. It’s terrible that you found out simultaneously with the public. Disrespectful indeed. I they find new homes as well, and I will join them.

  • CincyCapell

    MC-Wade purchased Grammer’s 3 years ago, in the winter of 2008. He’s not going to reopen the place as a real restaurant now, do you have any idea how much money he would have to put in the place in order to bring it up to modern food handling standards? You could sink $100,000 into the kitchen alone. Wade’s remaining restaurants are all hurting, so I don’t think that it’s realistic to expect that he will spend a lot of coin to reopen Grammer’s. The ‘reopen as a restaurant’ bit is just another face-saving PR move on Wade’s part- he does the same thing every time that he closes another one of his restaurants. Greenup will never reopen, and that bit he sold the local press about selling all of his restaurants to the chefs that are currently running them was another scam that didn’t happen.

  • mike

    The staff at Grammer’s created something truly remarkable
    – a free-spirited atmosphere of green lasers & pure-fun.

    What any city needs most, Cincinnati abruptly lost a small chunk of today – creative energy from/for the young folks.

  • Jake Mecklenborg

    I went to this place as a kid when Jim Tarbell owned it. I hated going there for the past two years and getting the “how did this guy find out about this place” look from the hipsters.

  • Ian Webster

    Here’s my problem with all of this “chatter”. I’ve lived in Cincinnati for a little over four years now, and it seems that every time a bar or restaurant closes, whether it be in OTR or more in the center of Downtown, all of this speculation arises. “Why was it closed? What’s going to happen to the space? Martin Wade’s a dick, it won’t re-open. He said/she said.”. Honestly, why is it that when something like this happens, the Cincinnati rumor mill starts churning at full blast? Look, Grammer’s closed…ok? That’s all. Yes, it sucks. Who cares about the why’s and how’s? Let’s just hope (with the small sliver we have) that it re-opens, and move on to more important things…does anyone know that the 10th anniversary of the riots just passed? As an “outsider”, I’d think there’d be more remembrance-type stuff, but no, there wasn’t. It’s just weird to me, it’s like there’s a mis-allocation of priorities or something.

  • Dan

    On no! Where are people going to get their ecstasy now???

  • A) It sucks a floppy donkey wang that Grammar’s is closing.

    B) It is bob-damned hilarious to read these comments… “I hate all the hipsters that go there now. This place was so much better back in the day when I knew about it”.

    If you are judging people on a solely superficial level, complain about how something’s popularity has ruined it, and how you knew about it back-in-the-day when it was really cool… You are a hipster. Stop your self-loathing.

  • @Ian – Cincinnati has yet to grow up and move out of high school. The whole city is based around being a giant rumor mill, where all the different cliques poke at each other with sticks. Most people are willing to do something to benefit the city for a little bit, as long as they really only have to write a check and a cool fundraiser (with open bar, ‘natch) is involved. Other than that, the people of this “city” are only interested in being racist and eating shit that they call chili.

  • Roger

    This sucks. I moved to the city about 4 years ago and just found Grammers about 2 years ago. Every single time i went i had a great time. The people there were always super nice and the staff was always welcoming.

    I’m definitely not a hipster. As a guy in his 30s that would show up in khakis i’d assume that any hipster mob that supposedly ran the place would have kicked me out. It never happened. I’m not particularly self conscious, so maybe that’s why i never imagined any glares from the gallery.

    Hopefully Grammer’s will reopen this summer and be better than ever. The building could use some upgrades.

  • Ian Webster

    @ WTF Cincy: “…and eating shit that they call chili.”

    HAH!! Honestly, I’m on a one-man campaign to have the “chili” renamed Greek spaghetti sauce. I’m from Oklahoma. I know what real chili is, having also lived in Texas. But that’s an “argument” (there’s no argument to it) for another time.

  • Emily Schneider

    Ian: You make a good and respectable point.

    I must note, though, that the anniversary of the riots will be next month, in April. The 10th anniversary has not yet passed. (I remember this well because my senior prom was to take place that month at Music Hall; the location had to change last-minute.)

  • Thanks for all of the great comments everyone. This is both hilarious and enlightening. As for the 10th anniversary of the civil unrest in Cincinnati, Emily is right. Timothy Thomas was shot and killed on April 7, 2001. The civil unrest did not actually begin until April 9, 2001.

    So yes, this is a very important moment in Cincinnati’s history and will be a topic we explore more deeply once the time comes. Thanks for the input.

  • krs

    @WTFcincy you’ve got cincinnati pegged pretty well as far as its high school style cliques. I think the reason people are quick to say “I knew it was cool from whenever” is because Cincy is being flooded with people screaming from the hillside about how perfect otr is. How cool it is. These people are shouting as though they’ve discovered a new land called otr. To the incessant cliques in this city they’ve discovered a new and improved manhattan. It’s not manhattan folks and screaming about otr doesn’t mean you discovered it. Yeah Cincinnati is cooler than Piqua or Lima or wherever you people are moving from but it’s not perfect. We’re all glad you like the city but you’re not the first to like it. It’s not new.

  • @krs and @WTFcincy:

    This behavior you’re commenting on is certainly not unique to Cincinnati. It happens all over the place at different levels. People like to speculate and discuss rumors. It’s pretty basic human nature. People also like to think of themselves as unique and being a first adopter. A leader, if you will, and not a follower.

    But the reality is that the 90% or more of us are followers, but we just fool ourselves into thinking otherwise. It’s not a Cincinnati thing, it’s a human thing.

  • Ian Webster

    @ Randy and Emily: Thanks for correcting me…and now I will proceed to correct my CINCINNATI friend, lol. He said it was yesterday?!?!? Should have done the research. I guess he’s just a month behind? Goodness gracious…

  • Dan

    WTF Cincy + 10

  • Rebecca

    Come on guys, hipster shmipster. The problem with the bar was not the clientele, but instead the terrible, terrible service, music that was always way too loud to hold a conversation, and just poor use of the unique space. If you combine lazy, apathetic management with lazy, apathetic service and really poor marketing (at one point I was invited to a weekly dance party called “Studio Filthy Whore”. really?)your bar just won’t last very long. Grammars was not OF this community. It was certainly geared toward an extremely exclusive sub-sect that never made me feel welcome (and this should be nearly impossible to accomplish, as I’m a 25 year old girl who has lived in OTR for 3 years and loves to dance!). Anyway, I’d posit that for every college-aged kid that paid $1.50 for pbr that Grammar’s gained over the last year, they lost a 20-something year old who lived down the street and would pay $4 for a St. Bernardus or two.

    Let’s be real progressives and look to how we can not only save this historic venue, but create a brand for Grammar’s that will work.

  • Ian Webster

    @ krs: It pains me to say this, but I actually missed Bockfest…and I LIVE in OTR (on Vine St.). Part of the reason is I’ve been under the weather for some time now and have been waiting to get better.

    But there’s another reason, and it’s that, you know, I love OTR, I see huge potential for it to resurge, to rebuild, renovate, reflourish, and be all that we know it can be. But when you have these jackasses, who otherwise would go to Lunar, or FB, or some pathetic fashion show like that, all of the sudden think they’re awesome because they hung out in OTR for one, count ’em, ONE NIGHT, it’s really disheartening, and I don’t want to associate myself with that type. I hang out in OTR EVERY weekend, Bockfest or not. Not trying to sound arrogant, but I do take pride in the fact that I’m, in some form or fashion, contributing to OTR’s resurgence frequently, while the others are not, yet delusionally think they are. Please, keep judging each other’s Gucci handbags, or Christian Dior tops at your uppity, trendy locales, and leave the important dirty work to us…

    I’m done venting!! Jeez, I lead a sad life… 🙂

  • Casey

    I said this elsewhere and I will repeat it here, as it is relevant:

    For starters, all the “hipster scene” chatter is just that. If that’s your impression then I suspect you didn’t go there often nor do you know what a hipster is. But that’s really a sideshow.

    I wouldn’t bet on this reopening any time soon. The Wade’s own much of the entire block (excluding Biffs and a few others). They are going through a divorce and are content to just let this sit and wait for gentrification. Unfortunately, let’s not beat around the bush–that is a tough block, particularly at Liberty and Walnut and the Shell Station. I don’t expect to see a lot of middle-aged folks eating schnitzel there. Meck Gardens it is not. When the Wades first reopened, they tried to make it more “old timey,” like people seem to be pining for. Problem was the old German bier hall of yore didn’t work–the old timey-folks didn’t show or, if they did, they had two beers at most and were gone by 7. There was food as well. Not a full fledged kitchen but they had some.

    Then there was the Ike fire, yes. Funny thing about that. It destroyed a formerly occupied portion of the bar and rathskellar. Must have been a nice insurance check that the Wades pocketed and didn’t put back into Grammer’s. No, more likely it was used to support the other failing restaurants. Fact is, Grammer’s was the only one in their group to make $$–primarily because they stayed out of it. When Martin hired his inexperienced nephew last fall as an “efficiency expert,” things went downhill quickly (this is the guy that demanded Bud Light and Mick Ultra on the glorious craft beer bar they have at the Bistro). Some people just don’t get it, and the Wades fit that category. Look, I understand that the scene at Grammer’s wasn’t for everyone, but it worked. It was diverse and incapable of being stereotyped, no matter how many times an ignoramus who went once on a Friday in 2010 wants to snort “hipster.” Different strokes for different folks, and the Grammer’s crew quickly realized that the crowd that is going to stay there late night and drink, dance and frolic is not a bunch of blue hairs eating schnitzel and nursing the treasured stein they brought in for the occasion. And let’s not overlook how this went down (see Chalk on NYE for a refresher on the MO). The revamped staff had been doing a great job at Grammer’s righting the ship since last fall, controlling costs etc. Leading up to and through Bockfest they worked day and night, in the rain (some even sleeping in the office) to make it the best weekend in the history of the bar. For that they showed up Monday morning to find the locks changed and the bar shuttered. Moreover this was despite assurances by upper management to the contrary, over the past several months, that staff would get advance notice before anything like this happened.

    It’s a bad move by the Wades and it’s a bad move for OTR. Between this and what Martin has done at Rookwood Pottery, it’s amazing that he can show his face in OTR. Of course, when Cincinnatians for Progress held a wildly successful (and PACKED pro-streetcar fundraiser there last month, he quickly left before the crowds arrived. He knows his rep and, frankly, doesn’t care. Mark my words, Relish will come up with some accounting shenanigans showing how they were losing money, including how they book the money made from that last Bockfest weekend. Don’t believe it for a minute. I’ve heard that “P&L” song and dance before. Keep in mind these are real estate investments, not just businesses. Showing a loss is part of the plan.

  • @WTF Cincy – I agreed with your first comment, then you second one just seemed like a flat out attack on the people of Cincinnati.

    @mike – Exactly.

    @Jenny Kessler – thank you for being very civil about this. I also agree the most important thing to make sure the building doesn’t go into disrepair.

    @Ian Webster – Unfortunately we do need to look at why it closed. The troubling thing is that Grammer’s had to be making money, so why did they close? They could just sit on the property until the property value goes up (after the streetcar and more redevelopment) and then sell it for much more than it is worth now. They make money and don’t provide anything in return to the community. I think that is something to look into.

    Anyone who says that the “hipsters” ruined Grammer’s is being very superficial. If you don’t like a bar, don’t go there. But unfortunately there are no places on that part of Walnut Street anymore. With the business closed I can only imagine that the area becomes more dangerous and fewer people go to OTR. Say what you will about how well the building was kept up, I agree that it needed major renovations, but it still had a positive impact on OTR.

    One thing that many bloggers and Cincinnati locals have a huge problem with is hating. Quit hating. Just because you don’t agree with certain peoples’ ideas, values, passions, or character doesn’t mean you need to rip on them. These comments make me just as upset as the comments section of the Cincinnati Enquirer (usually the comments on UrbanCincy are better, but they can get out of hand like this one). Everyone needs to stop hating on other groups of people. I don’t care if someone is from the suburbs, Kentucky, OTR, if they are hipsters, poor, rich, black, or stupid; it does not justify you name-calling and hating. Lighten up the debates and discuss things in a reasonable manner.

    Quit Hating. It doesn’t get anyone to agree with you.

  • I blame the 4Loco

  • etragedy

    The economy has been bad for years now – many places, precisely because they were so profitable were able to hang on a few years after the crash. It hit homeowners and lending institutions first, then other business – restaurants and bars seem to be the last ones to start toppling years after the crisis first began. If you look around Cincinnati, you’ll see it’s not just Grammer’s – a lot of bars/restaurants have started closing around 2010-2011.

    But Grammer’s has been closed before – more than once.
    I doubt that the last chapter in Grammer’s history has been written yet.

  • Dustin Clark

    Grammer’s was a staple for the convergent positive synergy in OTR and Cincinnati as a whole!! This is one of the few places where I have consistently witnessed the mixing of all kinds and creeds of people!! Grammer’s brought together Cincinnatians of multiple races, from multiple economic ‘classes,’ and from people of all education attainment levels!

    Yes, some underagers made it thru the door. And yes, some hipsters gave off the impression that they were the first crowd to inhabit the 129 year old bar (thats what hipsters do in Northside and in every American city). But as many of you complain about youngin’s and hipsters believing they have ‘found OTR’ or acting too ‘cool’ please take notice that many were discovering the city after entrapment in the ‘burbs (afterall, this is the young-professional target market for Downtown and OTR).

    But unlike half of OTR the building was neither vacant NOR owned by 3CDC! It didn’t rely on a world famous beir garten brand-name (Hofbrü, I love ya, but your riding the coattails of a big name)! It wasn’t a stark-white crowd seen on most of Main illustrating the potential [if not imminent] wave of gentrification! It didn’t rely on a ‘theme’ or a gimmicky mechanical bull! It didn’t blare overplayed, under-talented ‘Top 40’s hits’ from “DJs” that are margenally more talented than my iPod’s Genius playlist! It wasn’t full of 30 somethings dressed and shooting like they were still in college! It wasn’t the cleanest, most “preserved” space (if we are being technical, few bars or establishments on Vine or Main are “preserved,” rather they are “restored” and “renovated”)!

    This Cincinnati institution relied on a truly interesting social mixing of good people, awesome staff and bar-keeps, serving good brews whilst NEVER charging cover! There were not stories of date rape drugs or ODs or alcohol intoxications or robberies or stabbings or shootings. A place I could bring my prejudice friends to discover OTR is not scary, and that cities are not innately full of crime and squalor. This is what type of public mixing grounds Planners work (and typically fail) to see emerge, and what the type of place I believe Jane Jacobs would enjoy. If you read here the history of OTR (and many US inner city neighborhoods), public spaces like this are where Mr. McMicken, Mr. Moerlein, Redlegs, and Symphony members could fade into a crowd of much different socio-economic levels–this was OTR’s past, and was Grammer’s current!

    There is no doubt in my mind this building will be re-inhabited yet again. My issue is, where else in Cincinnati can you observe the socio-economic mixing (and age mixing, and education-attainment mix) that Grammer’s provided?….

  • Rebecca

    @Dustin: Miltons. You see far greater “socio-economic-age mixing” at Miltons that you could at Grammars.

    I’m confused, were you all at the same Grammar’s I was? It was nothing but a dance party. I rarely saw anyone over 40 there! It catered to one type of person only.

    I think that some of you are right, Martin Wade’s pocket has much much more to do with this closing than the performance of the bar itself. He should be ran out of town really, if he still didn’t own the Bistro (which is just getting worse and worse…). Lavomatic is really right around the corner, 127 not long after that. Wade is using this “local & fresh” movement solely to make money, not to provide a service or to be part of a better community. It’s a shame.

  • BGee

    @ Ian Webster – You say you are not trying to sound ‘arogant’, but thats exactly how you sound. You put yourself on pedestal because you…. hang out in OTR all the time? And somehow people that arent into that scene are jackasses for comming to bockfest to celebrate a unique event. Great attitude, thankfully not all OTR residents feel that way. You are too cool for school sir.

  • Ian Webster

    @ BGee: First of all, “Too cool for school” is a very generic phrase, please use something new…

    That being said, yeah, it does come off that way. You see it as arrogance, I see it as pride in, and protection of, one’s surroundings. Assuming, by the way you speak, that you too are a resident of OTR, we can agree to disagree on this small point, but agree on the larger one, that OTR flourishes profoundly.

  • Seymour T.

    @ Ian Webster: How long have you lived in OTR?

  • SQUAWK SQUAWK SQUAWK.

  • Ethan Tremble

    Damn that was my favorite place to ride my fixed gear to. I guess I’ll just have to stay in northside. Really it’s alright I didn’t exactly like all those black people asking me for change anyways.

  • Juan De Bonia

    Me too, Ethan. Looks like I’ll be spending more time at my sustainable urban garden listening to indie music.

  • Dieter S.

    So many critics.

    I don’t know Wade except for what I hear and given all that I have heard, I can say I don’t know Wade nor, apparenttly, do most that have made comments.

    I have a suggestion for opening Grammars again. Why not open it a a socialist entity. All of you that have responded come together, make a contingency agreement with Wade for the rent, and all of you open the place together. No wages! If money is generated, it goes into a trust or fund. When you all figure out how to make the place work and it sustains itself for a decade, you can decide then what to do with it. Maybe it will be enough to just be part of it. For most of you, it might give you a life.

    Operating it as a non-profit might bring credible light on how difficult it is to do business in Cincinnati.

  • Fred

    -The Wade’s are divorcing
    -Wade is being sued for big $$$ over Rookwood
    -Martin’s cash cow is gone
    -Lavomatic is hemorrhaging cash
    -Wade doesn’t have the funds to remodel Grammar’s. He will never reopen it.
    -Wade will sit oin the property hoping the streetcar, 3CDC development brings a higher value so that he can sell it.

  • Ian Webster

    @ Seymour: Not very long. (Cue the “You haven’t even lived there that long, your opinion’s shit!!!” crowd…….now.

    @ Fred and another poster: Good point about him sitting on the property until the value goes up. Smart business? I hate to say it, but yes. Shitty nevertheless? Absolutely. Just another situation where the employees get put out on the street, because of “Bottom-Line Logic”. Pretty confident, though, that they can find other bartending jobs pretty quick.

  • Ryan

    no one has really commented on the employees. most are left without any source of income, including me. it shows no tact to have your entire staff bust their asses all weekend for bockfest to repay them with no warning of them losing their jobs. there is a special place in hell for these “upper class” degenerates.

  • Casey

    I believe I addressed that in my above essay.

  • Amber

    wah wah wah wah. get over it everyone.

  • chris g

    I heard it closed cause Dominic Sansalone is a tool shed…

  • Zachary Schunn

    It’s interesting; I think this discussion has struck a deeper chord.

    Several people have noted that they felt “judged” any time they went to Grammer’s. Not surprising; I myself felt the same way on occasion. But those who judge the clientele are no better than those clientele who judge the people who walk in.

    Say what you want, but it truly was a diverse bar. A lot of bars define themselves as “straight” or “gay,” but Grammer’s was really both. In the times I was there I saw great mixes of people: from the loose “hipsters” everyone seems so afraid of to men in suits; from locals who seemed to have known of the place forever to classmates at UC who had just discovered it; from–I’ll admit–the occasional underaged girl to former professors approaching retirement.

    The underlying chord this discussion seems to have struck is the constant desire to classify people into categories, and demean “other” categories as worse than their own. Cincinnati has obviously had a tough history of racial segregation and tension, but the grouping does not stop there. People judge each other by age, by income, by appearance, even by what neighborhood they live in. Heck, everyone is always asking what high school I went to, then when I tell them I’m not from Cincinnati I get: “Oh, so you’re an outsider.”

    What makes an urban area like OTR great is the acceptance of diversity. But when a certain group of people enters such a neighborhood and tries to claim it as their own, THAT is when exclusion occurs. That is when people start leaving because they feel they are no longer accepted. And that is how we get west side vs. east side, uptown vs. downtown, corp limit vs. suburbs.

    For once, why doesn’t everyone quit judging each other, and recognize that what was lost was a place where–yes, there was a particular character–but people were not turned away because they belonged to a particular group. A place that in its own unique right helped exemplify the diversity that makes OTR great.

    Sorry, I’m done with my rant. Go back to making fun of each other.

  • Truth

    So many speculators here, funny to read. Too many drugs, underage drinking and destruction to keep it open. The Wade’s are not getting divorced, laughable. Holes in the 100+yr old walls from beer bottles, smashed toilets, defacing of walls and tiles. They treated it as their personal “tagging” gallery. At whose expense??? That’s right, ownership. See, when you are too good of friends with the clientele and don’t have the capacity to respect a space, bad things happen, and that’s what happened here. I understand a lot of people lost their hangout spot, but would you treat your home with the same disrespect you treated this place, I hope not or you’d live in a trailer. Truth hurts and maybe next venue you will respect a little more.

  • frankly

    I love to hear all these comments. But lets please look at some basic facts of Martin Wade and his involvement to the business community. Regardless of “do we love Grammers and its clientele or not” how many employees has Wade hurt? How hard is it to be decent to people that need to work and that work hard for a business and its owners. Wade shutting down so many establishments abruptly or taking over companies illegally. This is no way for people to act and be allowed to act. These soulless action only contributes to the decline of community moral and ethics in general. Wade is a cannibal of everyone around him, ie: his wife, employees, the city. Trust me in that his wife is only a pawn in his disturbing acts of cruelty, although she have gone to the dark side at this point never to come back. How long can the people of Cincinnati stand for this kind of behavior? You could be the next victim of this guy.

  • Rico Fresch

    I blame the Kaldi’s kids.

  • Patrick C

    @Truth–that’s an ironic name given what you stated above. What was destroyed at Grammer’s?? All I saw were all of the intact antique beer steins on the wall, the glass cabinets, antiques. As far as I know, NONE of those were ever broken. A toilet in the men’s room? Wow, who ever heard of that getting broken in a bar. What else? Ping pong balls? Truth be told, it doesn’t appear that the efficiency expert was very efficient. Which is also the problem in such scenarios–a self-professed “expert” comes in, by the good graces of nepotism, and ruins what was a successful model due to misguided notions of “efficiency” and an a self-fulfilling need to justify his position at the expense of others.You cite vague notions of underage drinking, destruction and drugs, but you can’t cite any real examples? Why, because there are none. Clearly you don’t have any experience or knowledge of bars, and the OTR neighborhood in particular, or you wouldn’t say what you did. And you claim destruction at the expense of owners? That’s laughable. The owners never put in ANY money. Oh wait…they put in that slab of cement out back, along with a chain link fence, and called it a “biergarten.” Someone once equated it to Dresden after the war. Talk about your deferred maintenance. Capital investment was a foreign concept in their business model. Just bleed as much money as possible, work your employees to the bone and then shut the doors with no notice. And since when is being friends with your clientele a taboo in the bar world? Seriously, you must be joking.

  • librariangrrl

    I don’t think this should be a surprise to current employees (or anyone for that matter)… The reason the people who worked there (last week) had a job is because prior employees got f*cked over before them. Last summer’s firing spree wasn’t exactly a secret…

    I love the space–I hope someone does something with it–but I am honestly surprised it stayed open as long as it did.

  • Truth

    Patrick, you obviously never saw the place before so you wouldn’t know that the wall never had NOTICEABLE BEER BOTTLE holes in it. So I will chalk this up to you being misinformed. Thanks for sharing though.

  • Patrick C

    I went there when they first re-opened. When did you first go there? And I still am not aware of what you describe as “noticeable beer bottle holes.” Not sure how bottles go through plaster and tin walls either.Are you referring to an indentation perhaps, or an actual hole in the wall? Regardless, you’re clearly a shill for the Relish group. As for me, I am neither a huge fan of Grammer’s of old nor a Relish stoolie. I am just someone concerned about Over the Rhine. The deal doesn’t smell right and everyone knows it.

    @Frankly–amazing post.

  • This is for everyone:

    Please keep the conversation civil and refrain from personal attacks. We do not like to use moderation on our comment sections, but UrbanCincy is not a place for personal attacks either. We can disagree without being disagreeable.

  • Truth

    I have been in that place for over 20 years Patrick and have no affiliation with anyone inside the Relish group. When I went there recently I noticed things that never existed in my previous times going there and was concerned it was being disrespected. Who writes on walls inside anywhere besides infants??? I have no idea how the Wades run their business and frankly don’t care. Just didn’t want a landmark to be destroyed by young children using it as their playpen with no respect for the heritage of the place.

    As for someone concerned about OTR, son, I have been here since you were in diapers so save that for another one.

  • In The Know

    “Truth” is either Wade or his stooge, Justin Dean.

    Whose fault is it that your crowds were rowdy? It was the management’s fault for not managing the crowds in the first place, allowing underagers in, allowing kids to get very drunk etc. The truth is that Wade never put so much as a dime into Grammer’s, he simply opened the place and allowed it to continue to deteriorate. The guy is a schmuck who suddenly fancied himself a restaurateur because he was J-R’s financial backer. Well, as we’ve all seen, Wade doesn’t know shit about the restaurant business as evidenced by a string of failed restaurants. How long until Marty closes Lavomatic & 127? The Bistro gets enough turn from unknowing business travelers staying at the surrounding hotels to be ale to make it for a while, but Lavo & 127 are on life support, and Marty is going to pull their plugs any minute now.

    PS-When is Marty going to the personal property that you stole from J-R at Jeanro back to him? Now that you’ve had your ass handed to you in multiple courts you have no excuse to hold on to his belongings. Buck up Marty, I’m sure that Marilyn will have to pay you some serious alimony dollars in the divorce proceedings.

  • In The Know

    Truth claims not to know Wade or anyone in Relish, but “knows” that the Wade’s aren’t divorcing. Someone’s telling porkies…..

  • frankly

    Thanks Patrick C.
    Gammers was in decent shape when Wade bought it, (to a degree). I went to a lot of events there when Tarbell owned it and he loved it so and kept it as nice as he could. I have been there since Wade bought it but not recently because I boycott all things Wade at this point. Thats just me – AND A TON OF OTHER PEOPLE. When the rathskeller of the building burnt, we cried and was mad that Wades karma brought this upon a building so rich in history, how else can it be explained. (loose electric wire that hit building in storm – Karma is better). They did not offer the beer I like to drink (Moerlein) on tap, and why, because he tried to screw Greg Hardman on the Moerlein Banks deal and Greg called him on it. Greg is a great guy that really is doing great things for the neighborhood. Its only natural hey would not get along. Wade is a jealous, petty, self righteous, egomaniac that steals for a living.

    People need to move on that is true about Grammers, Wade will not stop until he is stopped. I hope those guys that are going after Wade in court for Rookwood bury him alive. I’ve heard that Wade is in real deep shit about that case over what he did. The mans entire existence is just so sad.

  • Dale Brown

    We are probably over-saturated with bars downtown; everytime I go to one I wonder “who are all the people who are supposed to be here, where are all these high-paying jobs they have to pay for drinks (hello Mynt!), and where have they been hibernating the past 10 years?”

    Grammer’s was interesting but nothing set it apart for me as any of the other surrounding establishments. Hopefully someone gets to open it back up.

  • crankyoldbitch

    How does sitting on the property and waiting for the redevelopment wave to hit that block make Wade different from any other property owner in the area? He’s obviously mistreated his employees, but as a real estate play, it makes sense. Maybe one of the urban pioneer types will buy it and turn it into a farm to table restaurant. That would make it worth braving OTR at night.

    I’m glad for all the comments. I won’t be going near any Relish Group restaurants. Why give money to someone who treats his employees so shabbily?

  • Dieter S.

    Wow!
    What is with most of the posters? Given the amount of complaints with Grammers and Wade, there appears to be a market for Grammers. There seems to be little indifference. Personally, I fail to see the attraction with Grammers that would generate the remarks. Are some of you in awe because you haven’t been around long enough that you never saw an old time bar before? I am serious; what is the attraction that has got some of you so worked up?

    What is it that Mr. Wade should have been doing to be “putting money into the place”? Just considering what he paid for the place, he has to come up with $4000. per month just for rent and then there is insurance and maintenance, which has to be considerable based on the location and the anger of the customers, and then there is little things like wages and taxes. Wade needs to sell a lot of beer to keep the wolf from the door. Are you all talking about the same place? Apparently , Mr. Wade is experiencing something different than what many of you think is happening.

  • Adam

    When the place opened back up it was nice! But when they started selling the $1 PBR… it went down hill quick. I guess it was a good place for the hipster crowd but me and my buddies went back to drinking downtown – no OTR trash OR hipsters.

  • CincyCapell

    “Dieter’s” real name is Paul Wallpe, he’s a notorious slumlord who was persecuted and jailed by The City Of Cincinnati for violating court orders to clean up his blighted properties. From public records:

    http://www.hamilton-co.org/appealscourt/docs/decisions/C-070115_03052008.pdf

    That’s the reason that Paul/”Dieter” HATES the Cincinnati with such a deep and loathing passion.

    And “Dale Brown” is a sad troll who wouldn’t know anything about Cincinnati, Downtown, OTR, or the bar and restaurant scene because he hasn’t left his mommy’s basement in 30 years.

  • Zachary Schunn

    So, what happened to the comments being closed because people weren’t being respectful? I’m actually starting to get kind of depressed seeing these “follow-up comments” appear in my inbox. What happened to acting like intelligent adults? This is beginning to read like the Enquirer’s comments section (no offense Randy).

  • shortseller1970

    @ Frankly…you are the one living a sad existence. Speaking of Karma like that knowing full well that which will fall upon yourself.

    Know the facts about Rookwood. Chris Rose was running that into the ground, was “raising money” instead of sales and lying to employees and investors. Rose’s aged payables are through the roof and Mr. Wade has saved that place by ripping the controls from that loser of a “businessman”. He lied about what sales were pending and convinced many people to put in more and more investor money and that was their operating capital. Sales were not being generated in conventional means and Rose did not have the slightest idea how to run a functioning business.

    Grammers?….that place was being run into the ground by the little $2 PBR hipster crowd. Good for the Wade’s for shutting it down…they should have done it sooner! They will reopen by summer, bigger and better than ever and will have a crowd that will respect and take care of it.

    I really wish the people of Cincinnati would know the facts before they begin blogging and texting away. I have never seen such hatred and such childish cliques in one small city before. It’s really sad b/c you have such a neat, cool community, with so many good restaurants and people who truly care about it…INCLUDING the WADES…..sheesh.