CINCINNATI -- Less than three months after opening in Lebanon, sushi burrito restaurant Roll On In is poised to open its second location, in Clifton Heights near the University of Cincinnati.
The exact address must remain confidential for now as part of the lease agreement, said co-owner John Kallenberger. Roll On In will take over the site of an existing business that will vacate the premises by Sept. 1.
The runaway success of Roll On In has surprised Kallenberger and his business partner, Michael McCarthy, who opened the eatery on June 8 in Lebanon. Kallenberger is the company CEO, leading the business segment, while McCarthy spearheads the culinary development and operation.
“I didn’t expect this thing to take off the way it has,” said Kllenberger, adding that the eatery had a two-and-a-half-hour line stretching out the door on a recent Friday night.
The new location is expected to open in October. It will seat about 40 inside, with room for about 20 more outside. Unlike the Lebanon location, the new set up will have a full liquor license, though Kallenberger said they are not yet sure how or even if they will use it.
The menu and fast-casual format at the new location will be identical to the Lebanon restaurant. The new location also will serve Smooth Cincy Coffee Co.’s craft cold brew nitro coffee, as well as one new addition: nitrogen-infused teas. The teas will be implemented this week at the Lebanon eatery.
Kallenberger said he expects the new location to attract students and residents from the area, in addition to customers from Hyde Park and Norwood.
Interestingly, the new spot found them. Kallenberger said he received a call from a business owner who had read about the eatery on WCPO.com.
“I don’t think you could ask for a stronger location,” Kallenberger said.
Roll On In also has a new food truck. They’re waiting for a final inspection by the Health Department, which he anticipates will happen this week.
“We’ve been on the food truck, cooking and testing and getting things ready,” Kallenberger said.
Already, they have more than a dozen bookings for the food truck, ranging from breweries to Fortune 500 companies. Kallenberger indicated that the food truck menu and setup is identical to the restaurant's, with one additional menu item.
“We are going to offer dynamite burritos,” he said -- burritos lightly coated with tempura batter and flash fried for a crispy exterior.
According to Kallenberger, McCarthy has continued to develop and improve on the menu. New protein choices now include tofu and even sweet chili gyro meat, which is quickly becoming one of the top sellers.
The new sweet chili gyro meat sushi burrito @roll_on_in is crazy good. That's all. pic.twitter.com/pb9x4oagah
— Grace Yek (@Grace_Yek) August 24, 2016
They also are looking to pilot a weekend breakfast program in Lebanon sometime next month. Kallenberger envisions customers building their own bowls or flour tortilla-burritos with choices like eggs, bacon and chorizo sausage. He’s also thinking about offering a fruit bar, replete with yogurt and granola.
Kallenberger believes in taking measured steps even as demand for their product grows.
“We don’t want to move faster than we should,” he said. “My biggest priority is that none of the quality suffers.”
Kallenberger also revealed that he has received roughly 20 inquiries about franchising. Although franchising is very much a part of the business plan, he wants to open more locations and continue to sharpen the concept before giving it serious consideration.
Meanwhile, he is just bowled over by Roll On In’s customers.
“They are the biggest reason we’re growing at the rate we are,” he said. “They believe in our product … and they keep coming in, and they keep bringing friends. It’s just an incredible experience for me to see how much people like it.”
Roll On In
Where: 44 E. Mulberry St., Lebanon
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Sunday
Grace Yek writes about food for WCPO Digital. She is a certified chef-de-cuisine with the American Culinary Federation, and a former chemical engineer. Questions or comments? Connect with her on Twitter: @Grace_Yek.