Movie-inspired speakeasy Video Archive prepares to open in Walnut Hills
Gil Kaufman | WCPO contributor
10:45 AM, Oct 20, 2016
12:24 PM, Oct 21, 2016
Jacob Trevino is obsessed with movies.
If you haven't already figured that out by visiting his Pleasant Ridge bar Overlook Lodge – inspired by the 1980 Stanley Kubrick horror classic “The Shining” – then you'll definitely get the message on Saturday, when the bar-preneur unveils his latest cinema-inspired saloon, Video Archive, inside the Trevarren Flats building at 965 E. McMillan St.
"It's hard to surprise adults, and this was our one chance to make people surprised," a smiling Trevino said, standing in the lobby of the Walnut Hills bar that masquerades as an old-school video store just days before its official opening.
Surrounded by walls of VHS tapes and DVD cases for films like "Fantasia," "E.T." and "Pump Up the Volume," Trevino explained why he and his partners in the new venture put a head fake on local media in July with a Quentin Tarantino-spoofing movie trailer that made it seem as if they were opening an actual video store.
"We wanted to do something that Cincinnati hasn't really had before, which is a speakeasy," he said. "It's not exclusive -- it's an inclusive bar -- but we want you to have a bit of movie knowledge when you come in."
Taking its name from the video store where grindhouse auteur Tarantino famously got his education in all things film, Video Archive is yet another high-concept extension of Trevino's Gorilla Cinema, a roving project that mixes cult films and cocktails with audience interactivity and whimsical surprises.
Trevino described how the bar's "video store clerk"/door person will quiz patrons on movie trivia, leading them to a specially rigged movie case with a hidden switch that opens a secret passageway into the cozy 40-person space. "It's a video store, but it's a video store with secrets … hidden behind this wall is one of the most amazing bars you will ever see."
In keeping with the movie maniac vibe at the Overlook Lodge, Video Archive is littered with clever references Tarantino-philes will instantly get, from the wall of Uma Thurman headshots to the “Pulp Fiction” movie posters and magazines spread throughout the interior to the hidden “Death Proof” logo on the wall that you can only uncover with your smartphone's camera and, of course, the menu.
There's the “Pulp Fiction”-nod "Five Dollar Milkshake" (vanilla bean-infused Evan Williams bourbon, cream and whipped cream), the “Inglourious Basterds”-inspired "Shoshana's Revenge" (thyme-infused shochu, tequila, blood-orange serrano syrup, lime, bitters and soda) and, of course, the “Kill Bill”-themed "Black Mamba" (barrel aged gin, coconut milk-lemon peel cordial, lemon and poppy seeds).
With a 50-person patio where patrons will be able to watch movies projected on a brick wall and order food from the adjoining Just Q'in barbecue restaurant, Trevino said Video Archive aims to be an "upscale dive bar speakeasy" with affordable drinks that appeal to longtime neighborhood residents and just about anyone else who loves movies and Maker's Mark.
"Movies span class, race, age -- everyone loves movies," he said.
Unexpected touches are around every corner of the 1,400-square-foot Video Archive, including two projectors that will beam Tarantino-inspired art on the wall above the bar and a 1963 Wurlitzer jukebox stocked with songs from the director's films by the likes of Blue Swede, America and Bad Company.
Those songs will be free to spin on Jukebox Mondays, one of several theme nights that also will include a weekly "Flight Club," where former Jean-Robert's Table sommelier Madison Malott will serve wines from new and independent vineyards. There also will be Take Back Sundays, billed as Cincinnati's only emo night, with the soundtrack focused on angsty music from the late 1990s and early 2000s.
With a concept that was hatched last Christmas when he saw an old-school video store while on a road trip to Cleveland, Trevino said he and partners Otto Baum and Katie Fraser chose Walnut Hills because they like to go into neighborhoods that some people don't visit that often.
"It's about bringing something different to a new neighborhood," Trevino said.
The trio began working on the space in July and were still putting the finishing touches on it this week.
"We're successful because we go off the beaten path and we have a formula now," Trevino said, hinting that their next venture could take them as far afield as Columbus or Detroit. "I do things I would like to go to, and I hope enough other film freaks are out there who want something different."