Bar 145, a gastropub with a large selection of fine bourbons, farm fresh organic bar food and live entertainment, has experienced great success in the first half of 2013 with its existing Toledo and Kent locations, and new locations are already in the works for Columbus and Cleveland. The franchise is on track for continued growth, with locations currently being scouted in Cincinnati and Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Most recently, an ownership group of former McDonald’s multi-unit owners purchased the Kent location, which opened in January 2013 and has already attracted a regular crowd. The sale closed May 1. The same partners will own the Cleveland franchise – a highly desirable site that will be located in the up-and-coming Ohio City neighborhood that has become a burgeoning area for young business professionals.
“This particular franchisee group brings a great deal of business acumen and experience to the table. They are excited to join the company and be on the ground floor of a new, growing concept,” says Jeremy Fitzgerald, owner-operator of Bar 145.
Bar 145 will sign the lease for the Cleveland location in approximately two months, and the company hopes to open the restaurant in early 2014. Ohio City is an area with high dining traffic, and those who frequent the town tend to be “foodies” with a taste for the type of high-end organic fare Bar 145 serves at its restaurants. However, the Bar 145 concept is a standout in this neighborhood, as it will be one of the only establishments of its kind to offer live music. In addition, the restaurant will include a 2,000 square foot rooftop patio facing downtown Cleveland.
Bar 145 has started construction on its Columbus location, situated in the suburb of Grandview, and completion is slated for August or September 2013. While it is currently a company-owned restaurant, Fitzgerald plans to sell the location to a franchisee. Owning a Bar 145 franchise in the Columbus area comes with many advantages, as the city is a growing and diverse metropolis that is home to a university and a number of large retail brands, banks and technology businesses. According to a July 2012 article in a local real estate publication, “…nearly 190 companies have chosen the Columbus Region to locate and expand in the past 81 months, totaling over 22,000 jobs announced.” With its enormous potential for growth, Fitzgerald is targeting Columbus for a total of four Bar 145 locations, with an eye on Dublin and Gahanna for future locations.
The Grandview location is particularly well situated. An impressive population of 130,000 people averaging 27 years old – the restaurant’s target dining crowd – resides within a three-mile radius of the Parkersburg-Marietta metro area. The restaurant will have 5,400 square feet of interior restaurant space with a 1,000 square foot mezzanine and 1,000 square foot patio.
Fitzgerald is currently scouting sites in the Westchester and Hyde Park neighborhoods in the Cincinnati area, as well as sites in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
“We are more of a neighborhood bar, and we want locations with nightlife. This is one reason why the Toledo and Kent locations are doing so well,” Fitzgerald says.
Bar 145 opened its first location in Toledo in May 2011, and has already won national recognition. Recently, the company was honored on Urbanspoon’s Most Popular Restaurant Bars list for 2012. The 200 establishments recognized by Urbanspoon span 101 cities across 33 states. Honorees were determined by coverage and reviews from professional food critics, bloggers, the Urbanspoon community and diners.
Fitzgerald’s ultimate goal is to continue to grow through franchising. He is aiming to open a minimum of two locations per year, depending on franchisees’ needs. While Fitzgerald already has locations in mind, he is very receptive to any other good markets that potential franchisees may suggest. He hopes to open a total of five locations by the end of 2014.
“We have already experienced so much success with the existing locations, we are expecting continued growth to be fast and furious,” Fitzgerald says.