CINCINNATI — Danny Mouch had a vision for the first floor of the two-story building he purchased in 2018 at the corner of Hoffner and Gulow streets.
"I brought Johnny down here," he said, referring to his cousin, Jonathan Mouch. "We still didn't really know what we were going to do with the building yet and I was like, 'Well, why don't you do a restaurant in that first floor?' And he was like, yeah that's cool. Let's do it."
The suggestion was half-joke, half-serious before the cousins' conversation became reality. Throw in a once-in-century pandemic and three years later Jonathan Mouch is serving a simple menu of burgers and other sandwiches from inside the late 1800s building at 1614 Hoffner Street that's served the neighborhood as everything from a tin shop and butcher to an empty storage facility.
Jonathan Mouch named his place Gulow Street Bar after the corner it sits on.
"From the beginning, we're kind of hoping to, ah, create a neighborhood spot," Jonathan Mouch said. "I wanted this to be basically a bar with a kitchen or a bar with good food."
Jonathan Mouch began his career in local kitchens more than 20 years ago.
He said he started in Boca's original Northside location before the award-winning restaurant moved, at first, to Oakley and finally to where it is located downtown today. Since then, Mouch has worked out west before returning home.
Jonathan Mouch's last business venture was as a minority partner in Cheapside Cafe on Eighth Street, Downtown. Mouch said Cheapside Cafe closed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and he is not sure when it will reopen.
(In an email, Cheapside's managing partner, Joe Creighton, recently stated there are "lots of things in the works" that he plans to reveal soon.)
In the meantime, Jonathan Mouch brought Cheapside's signature breakfast sandwich made with bacon, egg and pimento cheese on Sixteen Brick bread that he created to Gulow Street.
"We've added the breakfast sandwich that we made kind of popular down on our dinner menu right now," Jonathan Mouch said.
That sandwich, though, isn't the only food menu item receiving rave reviews since Gulow Street opened, Danny Mouch said.
"John's burger is, you know — I've heard people in the last two weeks say 'the best burger they ever had in their entire life,' and he just does simple things so well," he said.
On the front-of-house side of Gulow Street, Jonathan Mouch recruited his brother Alex to move back to Cincinnati from out West to manage the bar.
"Our goal from the get-go was to keep the bar pretty simple," Alex Mouch said. "You know we only have two beers on tap because we figured, along with the food, we keep things basic. We give people some choices and kind of hit all the bases but not overwhelm people with like, you know, 400 beers on the list."
The bar also serves a small selection of spirits and four cocktails. Those cocktails include the "Carrot Moscow Mule" made with vodka, ginger beer, carrot juice and lemon juice that's become a surprise hit, Alex Mouch said.
The Mouches said they believe the bar, with its warm exterior and decor, along with the simple bar and food menu has already proved popular with the neighborhood.
"It was really nice to see the first day we opened, that Friday, my sister came down to help us out," Alex Mouch said. "She got here about 5:30 and almost every bar stool was full, every table was full, but there wasn't a single car on the street, which led me to believe Northside walked over."
And that response is something the Mouches believe would make their grandfather proud. He was a small business owner in Carthage, Ohio.
"We based the logo off our grandfather's jewelry store logo down in Carthidge," Alex Mouch said. "We kind of drew it the same way as his Mouch logo from back in the day."
Gulow Street Bar is open from 4 p.m.-midnight Sunday-Tuesday and Thursday; 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; and closed on Wednesday. To see the bar's full menu, visit www.gulowstreet.com.