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The Overlook Lodge is the brainchild of Jacob Trevino, founder of Gorilla Cinema, interactive film experiences that combine dining and socializing around the theme of a movie. Trevino also has spent years working in bars and restaurants around the country.
So how did he come to open a “Shining”-themed bar in Pleasant Ridge? That, too, is thanks to Gorilla Cinema.
Gorilla had hosted a double-feature horror movie night in the space across the street from what was then Bentley Bar. Trevino stopped in for a drink, learned that the owners were selling the place and started brainstorming the concept for the Overlook.
“Growing up in the South, I loved the idea of creating a Lodge concept bar. Considering the space and the location in Pleasant Ridge, this felt like a great fit,” Trevino said. “Once I had the Lodge concept, it was a natural next step to use ‘The Shining’ as inspiration for design, another way to extend the movie experience into a bar setting.”
The space definitely invokes a 1970s lodge vibe, with low wooden seats and full banquette seating (complete with brown corduroy covering like that of the jacket worn by Jack Nicholson’s character in the movie).
There are decorative hints to “The Shining” throughout the bar, including the signature hatchets, typewriters and even a displayed wall of hotel keys.
“There are a few more hidden nods to the movie in the bar, but those are just fun for the guests to discover on their own,” Trevino said.
Shared Vision Led to Partnership
Trevino credits the space coming together so well to the architect and design team at WORK Architecture + Design. The bar’s signature owl logo was created in part by Katie Fraser, Gorilla Cinema’s “director of imagination,” along with a design team who helped shape the look and feel of the brand.
While the space came together, Trevino focused on developing the bar menu. He spent time creating drinks at some of the best cocktail haunts in Cincinnati, including Salazar, Japp’s and Maribelle’s.
Maribelle’s is where Trevino met Doug Comer, a 14-year restaurant and bar veteran who had been a staple behind the eatery’s bar. The two realized they had similar business visions, and when Trevino shared his idea for The Overlook, Comer wanted in.
“While I love the team at Maribelle’s and am so grateful for my time there, this felt like something new and different that I wanted to be part of,” Comer said.
Comer is responsible for Overlook’s craft beer menu, which he will rotate regularly to bring the most interesting brews (draft, can and bottle) to guests.
Overlook will have two local handles (Rhinegeist and MadTree) on regular rotation. Additional taps will include an IPA, seasonal, “Darkest of the Dark” (stouts and porters) and the All-American, which always will be $3 a pint. Cans and bottles will include a steady rotation of “The Classic Ones” (Bud, Miller Light, etc.) and “The Fancy Ones” (North Peak, Jackie O’s, etc.)
The Goal: 'Make Drinking Easy and Fun'
The cocktail menu has received equal attention.
“We want to make drinking easy and fun,” Trevino said. “While a nine-ingredient cocktail that takes 10 minutes to make may have its place, we’re aiming to make you something interesting but that’s served as quickly as possible.”
Trevino and Comer create their own syrups and infusions in-house, many of which take time and effort to distill; however once they’re ready, they are a quick pour during cocktail creation.
“The work in the drink comes during the prep, not during the execution,” Trevino said.
“The drink should be simple enough to let the spirit shine through,” Comer added.
An example of this thoughtfulness is the “The Hatchet,” a blend of tequila, ginger and lime that is shaken and garnished with Spanish spices; the drink is clearly tequila-based but is well-balanced with sweet and spice.
Another twist to Overlook’s cocktail menu is craft shots served in pairs. Named “The Twins,” the shots are served side-by-side and intended to be enjoyed (sipped or slammed) together, such as dill-infused vodka paired with pickled jalapeno. And for those who will miss Comer’s weekend Bloody Marys at Maribelle’s, he’s already formulating a new signature Bloody Mary for the Overlook.
Though the bar doesn’t have a kitchen, it will offer signature trail mixes and beef jerky. It also will host movie trivia nights and offer live music on the weekends.