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More liquor licenses may be coming to OTR

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Posted at 3:39 PM, Dec 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-16 15:39:36-05

As many as 15 new bars and restaurants could be coming to Over-the-Rhine in the coming months after Cincinnati City Council’s Neighborhoods Committee voted on Wednesday to add a second community entertainment district and boost the number of liquor licenses.

The committee voted 3-1 to split the neighborhood’s current entertainment district, doubling the number of available liquor licenses and opening up the area north of Liberty Street for development. The issue will now go to a full Council vote. 

“This will jumpstart development near Findley Market and in the Brewing District,” said Brad Thomas, a lawyer who's working with the Corporation of Findlay Market.

Pop-up chef Ryan Santos, who is opening the restaurant Please at 14th and Clay streets, will apply for one of the new licenses, as will OTR Candybar, which wants to add wine tasting and adult milkshakes. Other restaurants that will apply for the new licenses are Paulie Gee’s Pizzeria, Findley Market Incubator Kitchen and possibly Hen of the Woods, a restaurant on Main Street, Thomas said.

“Every license will be applied for on the day they process the application,” Thomas said.

That’s because there are no liquor licenses currently available in Cincinnati. With 24 people already on a waiting list, it could take years for them to secure a new liquor license, Thomas said.

Or new restaurants can pay at least $25,000 – which is the going rate – in order to transfer a liquor license from an existing establishment, said Vice Mayor David Mann.

The change creates an “OTR East Community Entertainment District” and an “OTR West Community Entertainment District” with Vine Street as the dividing line. This doubles the number of liquor permits available from the Ohio Department of Liquor Control from its current limit of 15 to 30.

Thomas is hoping this will spur development north of Liberty Street. Seven new permits will be available in the western district, and eight in the eastern district, he said.

Applications will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis by liquor control, Thomas said.