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Downtown's Rock Bottom Brewery closes amid bankruptcy, pandemic

Rock Bottom closed
Posted at 7:17 PM, May 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-11 19:19:12-04

CINCINNATI — Even before the explosion of local craft beer across Greater Cincinnati, Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery was an anchor of the re-imagined Fountain Square. That made it one of the city's longest-serving breweries.

Then, the coronavirus pandemic spread and forced restaurants and bars across Ohio to close.

Today, a "Retail-Available" sign has been posted two windows over from a sign announcing a temporary closure with plans "to reopen at a later date."

A Fifth Third Bank spokesperson confirmed to WCPO that the former Rock Bottom space is available for lease through CBRE.

Rock Bottom won't reopen in Fountain Square
A "Retail-Available" sign has been posted in the former home of Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery downtown.

The brewpub opened in the early 2000s and, according to Fifth Third, leased the space through 2026. It closed briefly in 2018 for renovations.

The closure comes as the company struggled with the one-two punch of bankruptcy proceedings followed by the pandemic shutdowns nationwide.

CraftWorks Holdings, based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, filed for Chapter 11 on March 3 to reduce its debt by 60% and "better position its popular brands for long-term growth."

At that time, it had not closed any of its 338 locations, which operated under the Rock Bottom, Logan's Roadhouse, Old Chicago and Gordon Biersch brands. The company then furloughed nearly all of its 18,000 employees in early March as it shut down restaurants.

By the end of March, CraftWorks Holdings fired those employees. The pandemic's effect on consumer activity had derailed plans to emerge from the bankruptcy, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In bankruptcy filings obtained by WCPO, CraftWorks Holdings proposed rejecting remaining leases nationwide. The list included Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery in Fountain Square and a Logan's Roadhouse in Colerain.

CraftWorks Leases by WCPO Web Team on Scribd

Rock Bottom parent company CraftWorks Holdings declined comment on the local closure Monday.