CINCINNATI — After more than two years of hard work, the Littlefield Restaurant Group opened Branch and Night Drop on Wednesday evening in East Walnut Hills.
"This is a full historical rehab," said John Ford, a managing partner at Littlefield.
Ford, along with business partners Matt Distel, Michael Berry and Chad Scholten first announced their plan to open an upscale restaurant inside the former Central Trust Bank branch building at the corner of Madison Road and Woodburn Avenue in September 2016.
The Littlefield group invested approximately $1.2 million to renovate the bank, which first opened in 1921 at 1535 Madison Road.
The building had sat empty after the bank closed the branch in the 1960s, according to Ford.
He added his group tried to salvage as much of the bank's original art deco interior as possible, Ford said.
Some of those flourishes include one of the first revolving doors in the country and the bank's vaults.
Branch is a casual niche restaurant with a menu crafted by executive chef Shoshannah Anderson that now occupies the building's first floor.
"I'm really attracted to what I want to eat for dinner," Anderson said. "I want comfort food. I want food that is artistic. I want food that is simple."
The restaurant's menu features cultured butter made in-house, pork belly dumplings and Mediterranean cuisine alongside Eastern European and Vietnamese-influenced dishes. Branch also includes a fully stocked craft cocktail bar and a healthy curated list of wine.
The space is lined with plush green benches along one wall and dark wood tables and chairs that offsets the natural light that floods through the bank's original high windows during the day. It also features "The Genius of Alcohol," a mosaic by artists Curtis Goldstein and Matt Lynch that reflects the Prohibition era in which the Central Trust Bank branch originally opened.
In contrast to Branch's light and airy atmosphere, Night Drop is a small but casual bar located in the building's basement.
"We've tried to create community spaces," Ford said. "We want this to be a neighborhood spot."
Ford commissioned local artist Karen Boyhen to paint mural scenes depicting areas of East Walnut Hills onto the walls of Night Drop. The bar offers a full array of craft cocktails and small plates from the kitchen upstairs, Anderson said.
"We have great neighbors," she added when talking about the burgeoning small business scene along Woodburn Avenue. "We just wanted to offer something with a little homemade touch and extensive food offering."
Branch is open 5-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 5-11 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-11 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Sunday. Night Drop is open 4 p.m.-midnight Tuesday-Thursday; 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturday; and is closed Sunday and Monday. For more information visit www.eatatbranch.com.