TERRACE PARK, Ohio -- Terrace Park residents Brett and Aaron Tritsch are familiar with the lack of dining options in their neighborhood, but this husband-and-wife team will fill that gap soon when they open The Birch on April 21 at 702 Indian Hill Road.
PHOTOS: Take a look inside The Birch
"Since early in our relationship, we've talked about doing something like this," Brett Tritsch said, adding that the desire to have a restaurant in their own community factored heavily into their decision.
The Tritsches initially tabled their restaurant aspirations, but three kids and some years later, they decided to take the leap. It started when Brett's father considered selling the building The Birch now occupies.
"My father ran a business called the Yankee Dollar for 26 years out of this location," he said.
"The place had become empty, and Brett's dad had put the building up for lease," Aaron added. "A couple of people were interested in purchasing it."
The couple bought the building instead because of Brett's desire to keep the building in the family. That turned out to be the last piece of their restaurant puzzle. The couple started construction last year.
"We just really love this property and wanted to do something with it," Brett said. "This is kind of like an ultimate dream to open something here."
The Birch will offer cafe dining, a retail shop stocked with craft beer and wine, and even a game of bocce ball on the outdoor patio. There's seating for 45 inside and 25 more outside as well as a private dining room equipped with audio-visual equipment for small gatherings of about a dozen people. The Birch will take reservations for the private room, but not for general dining.
This is the couple's first restaurant, but Aaron is no stranger to the industry.
"I started working in restaurants since I was 14 and have been a general manager for a few along the way," she said.
Anthony Bailey joins the team as the general manager and Michael Edington as the executive chef. Edington said he intends to make as many items from scratch as possible, including brioche buns, honey whole-wheat bread and pizza dough, and anticipates eventually making more items in-house, such as charcuterie.
"I've learned to appreciate the value of doing as much as you can from scratch," Edington said. "It's an expression of yourself."
The menu maintains a focus on sandwiches and salads, including the ancient grains salad (root vegetables, puffed rice, smoked cheese, quinoa and maple-mustard vinaigrette), smoked duck cubano (duck confit, Swiss, house-made pickles, mustard, orange vinaigrette and smoked brioche bun) and birch burger (smoked brioche bun, beef hamburger, vivace cheese, birch sauce, greens and heirloom tomato).
The kids menu includes "sushi" -- rolled-up honey whole wheat bread with sunflower butter and strawberry jam -- as well as a healthy-leaning pizza built on whole-wheat crust.
"Our kids are young, and they would eat all of those things," Aaron said with a laugh.
There are also shareable items such as kabocha squash toast (toasted country loaf, kabocha squash, house-made ricotta and mint), crab toast (toasted country loaf, crab, fennel, serrano chiles and lemon aioli) and mushroom and farm egg pizza (whole-wheat crust, ricotta, cheddar, trumpet royal mushrooms, white button mushrooms, maitake mushrooms, garlic oil and farm egg).
The Birch will source produce from 80 Acres Farms, an urban hydroponic farm in Cincinnati.
"We want to focus on healthful ingredients, fresh and organic where possible, and local when available," Aaron said. "My next-door neighbor has a cattle farm, and we're hoping to (source) ground beef from him."
Bailey, the general manager, wants to offer the kind of hospitality that fosters lasting relationships.
"We want to give (our customers) a reason to come back," he said.
In keeping with the owners' vision for The Birch to be a gathering place for the Terrace Park community, Brett said they'll likely start a bocce ball league in May or June.
"It's been kind of a long journey," Aaron said. "But now we're finally getting pretty close to opening the doors and inviting people in."
Grand opening: April 21
702 Indian Hill Road, Terrace Park.
Hours: 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday; closed Sunday.
Grace Yek writes about food for WCPO.com. 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.