Jody Gunderson, director of Economic Development, said the surge of restaurant openings is evidence that Hamilton's central business district is becoming more viable.
Limited food options in the city’s urban core increase the restaurants’ chances of viability.
“It’s a pretty good density of population there that has a fair amount of disposable income, and I certainly think that it’s underserved in terms of the amount of dining options,” Williams said.
That underserved restaurant market is a key piece of the revitalization taking place in the city. Until recently, opportunities have been limited for drawing people to downtown Hamilton after 5 p.m. and on weekends.
“People are finding it much more convenient,” Gunderson said.
Providing dining options is in some ways a response to the increased evening and weekend pedestrian traffic, he said.
“I truly believe that the foundation is there … for restaurants to come in and do very well,” said Basil 1791 co-owner Tony Ly.
He has good reason for that hope. He and his partners have a hand in operating multiple restaurants and bars, including three other Basil locations in Northeast Ohio. Similarities between Hamilton’s revitalization and Canton’s are part of what drew the restaurant to Greater Cincinnati.
“It reminded me a lot of what Canton was like when I started the first Basil,” Ly said.
The new restaurants may do more than cater to the evening and weekend crowd in Hamilton. They also could perpetuate increased pedestrian traffic.
While Williams has a philosophy of “the more the better” in terms of dining options, variation in menus is integral for success.
“You’ve got to put forth a different offering,” he said.
Between the three restaurants soon to open, the fare is expected to range from pan-Asian to burgers and regional American dishes.
The menu hasn’t yet been designed for Hamilton’s Tano Bistro & Catering location, but diners can expect a variety of flavors from around the world.
“We really kind of pull from all kinds of different ethnicities,” Williams said.
The restaurant will offer lunch and dinner options as well as brunch on weekends.
Williams anticipates Tano will open next summer, but the restaurant’s opening is dependent on the completion of Marcum Apartments.
City officials expect the influx of new residents will further increase pedestrian traffic in downtown Hamilton and feed into the growing entertainment and dining markets.
“The more people we have living in our urban core, the more marketable it is,” Gunderson said.