Senate's Blue Ash eatery opens Friday

BLUE ASH, Ohio -- Senate, the trendsetting, upscale hot dog and gourmet street food restaurant in Over-the-Rhine, will open its Blue Ash location Friday, according to owners Dan and Lana Wright.

The Wrights, who also own Over-the-Rhine restaurants Abigail Street and Pontiac BBQ and Bourbon Bar, announced plans to open Senate’s second location in December 2015. 

"It's taken a lot longer to get everything (together)," Dan Wright said. "This is almost four times the size of the first one."

The couple also had a baby in January, which changed the trajectory of the new restaurant.

"We took our time to focus on family," Dan said.

Since opening Senate in Over-the-Rhine in 2010, the Wrights have been approached many times to open a second location -- and not just in Cincinnati.

"We were asked to open in Nashville, Louisville, Lexington and Columbus," Lana Wright said.

But they wanted the Senate concept to mature. More importantly, "things didn't feel right" until they saw the Blue Ash location.

"This space felt right," Lana said. "It's like you walk into a house and you know you want to live there."

Senate Blue Ash will take reservations for the private dining room but not for general seating. However, customers will be able to call ahead to get on a wait list.

By implementing the call-ahead system, Lana hopes to make eating out easier for families with small children by reducing the physical wait time.

"You don't have to physically come in to put your name on the list," Lana said.

With a few exceptions, the menu at Blue Ash is the same as the one in Over-the-Rhine. However, there is one big difference: "We want to do brunch on Sundays," Dan said.

There will be around a dozen different brunch items, spanning classic foods, pancakes topped with cereal and fun egg sandwiches. The menu includes items such as eggs Benedict, a breakfast burrito and buttermilk pancakes with creme anglaise topped with crushed cocoa puffs.

"It's going to be fun, creative and composed," Dan said.

There also will be a dedicated kids' menu featuring a few meal choices, including a grilled cheese sandwich, hot dog, cheeseburger and chicken tenders, along with organic juice and truffle fries.

Dan also hinted he would include a few items that will be available only at the Blue Ash location, such as a variation of Pontiac BBQ's smoked chicken wings.

Senate Blue Ash also will offer a full bar.

"There will be 24 beers on tap here compared to eight in Over-the-Rhine," Dan said. "We are also doing our own beer with Rhinegeist, and it will be released to coincide with Senate Blue Ash's opening." He added that there will be limited barrels of the collaborative brew.

Dan expects the wine list to be similar to Abigail Street’s, and the cocktail program to be similar to the Over-the-Rhine Senate's.

Jake Leroy Ansley will serve as the executive chef at Senate Blue Ash.

"This is a fine engine room," Ansley said, referring to the brand-new kitchen. The kitchen is much bigger than the one in Over-the-Rhine and has two cooking lines with an expediting station in the center. The kitchen also will be outfitted with a wood-fired grill.

"It's probably my favorite piece in here," Dan said. 

Senate Blue Ash will have a proper hostess stand, a private dining area wrapped in a wall of custom-made decorative concrete blocks and even an office for the managing staff.

"We will also have four unisex bathrooms with changing stations in two of them," Dan said.

The restaurant seats a total of 110 inside with room for approximately 75 more outside. The private room seats roughly 20.

There are similar elements in the decor at Senate Blue Ash as in the Over-the-Rhine spot, like the concrete bar top and wood bar side. But there's also a more mature vibe with herringbone wood walls, polished aggregate concrete flooring that resembles marble and pendant lights that are similar in design but noticeably grander.

The Wrights look forward to opening the restaurant doors to a new customer base.

"It means a lot to me to come back here and build a restaurant,” said Lana, who grew up in Blue Ash. “Blue Ash is a great city, and it's close to my heart."

Senate Blue Ash

Projected opening: May 19

Address: 1100 Summit Place, Blue Ash

Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; brunch: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday

Information: 513-769-0099; senatepub.com

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