HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- The new Monkey Bar & Grill on old 3C Highway in unincorporated Fosters had a successful first summer under new owner Mark Altemeier.
"I've been blessed," Altemeier said.
But with that success came some minor issues, like parking. So Hamilton Township came to Altemeier's assistance.
At the Dec. 6 township trustee meeting, the trustees agreed to sell Altemeier some land to help with his parking.
"The land amounts to a quarter acre or less, from what I'm told," said Trustee Joe Walker in an email. "Final details (still need) to be worked out on the purchase."
Township Administrator Ray Warrick provided some details on the purchase. He said Altemeier agreed to pay $10,000 for the land. Warrick also said that Altemeier is "granting a full easement to the public" in regard to that property. What that means is cyclists using the nearby Little Miami Scenic Trail may continue to park in that area, Warrick said.
Furthermore, Warrick said that Altemeier had agreed to maintain the township's public restroom located along the nearby trail at the township's Fosters Park.
Altemeier said the property in question starts behind the Monkey Bar & Grill and continues to an area where he owns property and some barns. In the spring, he plans to move the picnic tables closer to a bluff along the Little Miami River. It will offer patrons a "better view."
"Right now, all you see is a parking lot," he said,
Altemeier also will create some nice "green" space. Then, this summer, he plans to blacktop the dirt parking lot.
Altemeier said working with the township has been great. He said the township was willing to help "us out with our parking" and in fact, bar patrons had been parking their vehicles on township land.
"Ninety percent of that parking" was township property, Altemeier said.
Warrick said the township is impressed with what Altemeier has accomplished with his upgrade to the Monkey Bar & Grill. Warrick said the lighted patio provided patrons an "outdoor" experience along the river that was incredible.
"That place had a horrible reputation," Warrick said.
Altemeier would also like to see street parking along old 3C Highway at Fosters. Warrick said that will be an issue between Altemeier and Warren County to resolve. However, he said, he foresees both sides having to "jump through a lot of hoops" to make that happen.
As for Altemeier, he still plans on a grand opening for the refurbished Monkey Bar & Grill in May. He bought the bar in 2016. So far, he has remade the patio area, added fire pits and repaved an entrance area. The inside was gutted and now boasts a new bar downstairs and an upgrade is coming to the bar upstairs. His next project will be the kitchen. He envisions gourmet food prepared by a gourmet chef. Part of the second floor will be the dining area, he said.
If a customer wants a burger done medium rare, that is what the customer will get, Altemeier said.
"Once we have our own food ... it will change the whole dynamic ...," he said.
The Monkey Bar & Grill will become -- he hopes -- a go-to lunchtime spot for folks in the area.
Altemeier is pleased with the diversity of clientele the new Monkey Bar & Grill is attracting. Families, cyclists and bikers are part of the mix, he said.
The "crowd quality has changed," he said
"It's been a cool project," Altemeier said. "It's been a lot of fun."
Walker said that what Altemeier is doing is a good thing, and the township selling him some land was a no-brainer.
"I think anything we can do to help small business in the township is a win for everyone," Walker said. "It will be a piece of property paying taxes now and not an expense to the township to maintain. The township will still get the enjoyment of it also."