The celebrated team behind award-winning Sundry and Vice open their much anticipated follow-up, Comfort Station, in the Walnut Hills neighborhood Friday, June 28. The adaptive reuse features two distinctive operations within one property, a historic, 105-year-old building, known as a “Public Comfort Station,” originally a combination rest area and bathing house along a transit line and busy retail corridor.
“A long time in the making, Comfort Station is a passion project that began over four years ago,” says owner Stuart King. “Without the incredible work and dedication of our team and the stakeholders of the community, this amazing space would have never happened.”
Comfort Station serves as a new anchor in the quickly redeveloping area of Walnut Hills following in the footsteps of its predecessor, Sundry and Vice, as a landmark in Cincinnati neighborhoods on the rise.
When King first toured the space, he immediately saw the opportunity to create two bars in one building using the original “Women” and Men” doors. The original structure and details of the comfort station allowed for two separate entrances for the dual outlet concept. Accessible from the original “Women’s” room threshold, the light-filled, groundlfoor space is ideal for leisurely cocktailing with an expanded wine and beer program. Adorned with a living plant wall and suspended planters from local partner, The Budding Florist, the room is illuminated by two original skylights.
In collaboration with Drawing Dept., owner Stuart King and team designed Comfort Station to highlight original features while thoroughly injecting modernity and technology. Booths and bar seating offer guests USB and electric outlets, a chance to recharge and relax harkening back to the building’s rest area origins. A color palette of tonal grays, mimicking the concrete masonry of the historic structure, is accented by blue jewel tones in velvet and rich tapestry and textiles pulling in the warmth of the original brick walls. The 1900s skylights offer a brightness and levity to the space that retains much of the original footprint.
The Women’s bar opens into a comfortable backyard patio accented by fresh herb plantings as well as found and collected lawn furniture offering multiple areas. Drenched in sunlight, guests can sip within the urban oasis’ stadium seating to the back, rock in the breeze on the porch swing beneath the pergola, or luxuriate in the cushion-filled, elevated perch known as The Nook at Comfort Station. Running along the original cobblestone pathway into the area known as “Five Points Alley,” the enclosed, private courtyard features a wall installation created from salvaged wood from the King family farm in nearby Springfield, Ohio.
Already known nationally for their award-winning cocktails at Sundry and Vice, the team led by General Manager Jack Keane devised a studied menu of approachable drinks that are balanced by thought-provoking ingredients and precision techniques. The casual, easy environment of the upstairs bar lends well to the accessible cocktails, two of which are offered on rotating taps, such as the Flamenco Gypsy comprised of bourbon, amontillado sherry, absinthe, orgeat, lime, cranberry, and cucumber or the Everything Nice made with Nolet gin, lemon juice, and egg white topped with an Old Westminster Winery piquette float. Also on offer is a list of shareable cocktails, intended to serve two – four guests, selections include Summer Wine a concoction inspired by Seville, Spain’s seasonal drink made with red wine, sweet vermouth, tonic water, and garnished with a bouquet of herbs.
The approximately 2,000 square foot space also affords the team the luxury to expand the wine and beer lists more than possible within Sundry and Vice’s more confined quarters. The thoughtfully curated wine list includes well-known and venerated vintners and labels as well as up and coming and on the rise wineries, while beers and soft drinks feature a plethora local partners in addition to interesting and lesser known selections.
Opening later this season, the “Men’s” room entrance leads guests downstairs to a seductive cocktail lounge for exclusive experiences. Dimly lit, the subterranean level intimates the pleasures and vices often associated with nighttime revelry and good-natured mischief. The eight seat bar acts essentially as a microbar with virtually a private bartender concocting and creating drinks based on the guests’ preferences.
In addition to thoughtful cocktails and a selection of harder to find and rarer spirits, the room displays historic art pieces and memorabilia once considered taboo, such as odalisque and period gambling devices. Candlelit and richly appointed, the space is available for private parties and exclusive tastings beyond regular hours. The downstairs bar offers a marked contrast to the levity of the groundfloor bar, offering two unique spaces and programs.
“Comfort Station is a unique opportunity for us as we have two distinct spaces under one roof,” says General Manager Jack Keane. “Our team worked together to create cocktails that would match both settings: the lightness of upstairs versus that darker, primal nature of the downstairs venue.”
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