CINCINNATI -- When Mike Stankovich opens Peacemaker cocktail bar and cafe in Over-the-Rhine this October, he hopes it brings people together.
"The idea is we are building a large, horseshoe-shaped bar," said Stankovich of the bar, which will be located at 111 13th St. "I think bars are one of the last places where all people might still meet up. For some reason people always build bars where everyone’s back is to everyone else and they are only looking at the bartender."
Peacemaker's 49-seat capacity space (22 seats at the bar and 27 more at tables) will not only encourage patrons to interact with each other, it also will put the focus on bartenders as they make craft cocktails and prepare food. The menu will include items such as deviled eggs, sandwiches made with locally sourced breads and ingredients, condiments made in-house and desserts from places like O Pie Oin East Walnut Hills.
The bar's menu, which also will include 10 or 11 wines and four beers on tap, will change depending on the season and which fresh ingredients are available.
"It will be pretty rustic," Stankovich said. "People will come in and we'll be able to say, 'Here is a plate of whatever we made today.'"
The 39-year-old Washington, D.C., area native said he drew inspiration for Peacemaker from his years playing in punk bands such as Striking Distance and from the restaurants where he began working in his 20s to make ends meet.
"We toured Europe a few times and that experience shaped my view of food," Stankovich said. "And restaurants always went hand in hand with that for flexibility."
Stankovich met his wife, Cincinnati native Shailah Maynard, after moving to Boston. He learned about classic cocktails while bartending there in 2003.
The couple moved to New York in 2011 for Maynard's job. Stankovich gained some fame while working at popular Brooklyn eateries Roberta's and then Alameda, where The New York Times profiled him for his bartending skills last year.
"Right after that happened I had to decide whether to stay in New York and open a bar, which meant working 20 hours a day and nothing else," he said. "We decided to move home to Cincinnati."
Stankovich began tending bar at Mita's restaurant and bar when it opened Downtown last year, as he simultaneously made plans for Peacemaker.
Beyond financial success, Stankovich also hopes Peacemaker leaves a positive impact on the Over-the-Rhine community beyond its food and drinks.
"We have a mission statement for the bar," Stankovich said. "We firmly believe that our mission is to create a community through delicious food and beverage, art and music; to be a gathering place where everyone feels comfortable and has fun; and to build a better Cincinnati by supporting the work of local nonprofit organizations."
One percent of Peacemaker’s profits will be donated to a charity or a local food bank, Stankovich added.
"We believe that bars and restaurants are, and should be, a hub for social change and hold a responsibility to the neighborhood they reside in and prosper in," he said. "Bottom line, everyone is welcome."