CINCINNATI — New bars and restaurants pop up around the Tri-State all the time, but none of them look like Over-the-Rhine’s latest addition, Alice.
Owned by James Fisher, Seth Maney and Joshua Smibert, Alice — located at 1432 Main St. — is a splash of color and brightness set into the backdrop of an old subdued-looking construction company warehouse. Fisher said his stake in Alice is with a company called Lost Hospitality, which he started in 2019 with business partner Jeremy Moore. Lost Hospitality has launched Somerset and other boundary-pushing hospitality venues.
Alice officially opened its doors, albeit quietly, on June 23, but when we spoke with Maney about the bar, the location was still receiving the final touches. In fact, Maney himself was working away at planting greenery within the bar’s outdoor patio along the street.
The ownership group bought the property in 2018, and plans for the site came and went, but the group finally decided to move forward.
At first the idea was to build houses, but they decided they wanted to develop something that could be there for a long time — something that could be a mainstay in the neighborhood.
“We were very focused on building something that can be here for a long time and be a neighborhood spot and a very rewarding business,” Maney said.
When you walk up to Alice from the outside, it’s nondescript and subtle. The distressed logo for the J.B. Schmitt Company still resides above the garage doors and to the left of it is a bright yellow logo with Alice spelled upside down.
The building holds a vast history of its own, and Maney and his crew behind Alice have put their all into recognizing that history but also building upon it — hopefully crafting their own in the process.
From the outside, the bar doesn’t seem as expansive as it is. Featuring four areas for drinking — one of which was still under renovation during my time there — the bar hosts a main bar, its patio, a second room off the main bar and then its big dance room, which will host a no photo policy in the near future.
When walking into Alice, it’s like walking into another world or planet. There’s nothing minimalist about the decor, as framed pop culture references and art is littered across the walls, funky throw pillows line the couches and the brightness seeping into the bar’s logo and patio furniture flows into the rest of the bar — even the bathrooms are as decked out as the rest of the bar.
Maney explained how the decor choices and direction were very intentional and thought out. The basis of Alice resides in duality and Maney wanted to showcase that in all aspects of the bar.
“Duality and the nature of duality is at the core of Alice,” Maney said. “The duality of this hyper-masculine space that was a workshop where men built things with their hands with the softness of the name ‘Alice.’”
The bar continues to showcase the duality through its decor. It contrasts the bright colors and tinges of happiness with wood accents and dark leather couches. The massive bar is surrounded by a rainbow of stools but is an industrial-style concrete feature that’s the focal point of the main room.
“Let’s cover the spectrum,” Maney said. “From the physical to the metaphysical, from the past to the future, from the masculine to the feminine and everything in between.”
Though Alice has only been open a short time, Maney is excited from the buzz and neighborhood excitement. He wants people to walk out of Alice feeling energized and happy — in fact, happiness is a major feature at Alice.
Maney wants a lot for Alice and those that come to the bar, but mainly he wants visitors to be reminded that OTR and Cincinnati are amazing places. As a resident of and firm believer in OTR, Maney didn’t even consider putting the bar anywhere else — he didn’t even consider other places than Main Street.
“I’ve always thought, if Main Street can’t succeed then Over-the-Rhine can’t succeed,” Maney said. “If Over-the-Rhine can’t succeed then Cincinnati can’t succeed. And if we can’t make it, what city can?”
Learn more about and stay up to date with Alice here.
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