Tuesday, August 5, 2003

Hamilton eatery hopes for revival

Tavo's plans to reopen with a new lease, lighter menu

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON - Tavo's Grille, an upscale restaurant offering trendy fare in the city-owned One Renaissance Center downtown, didn't become trendy itself. The restaurant closed a year after opening.

Nick Lanni, one of Tavo's owners, said the restaurant will reopen in about two months, perhaps with a lighter, simpler menu and expanded bar seating. Located at a site where hundreds of city and county employees work, Tavo's did a brisk lunch business, but couldn't draw enough customers in the evenings, he said.

The restaurant's last day of operation was Saturday. A note on its locked doors states that it's closed for renovation.

Lanni said he and his partners are exploring ideas for a renovated restaurant.

"We'll probably focus on bar activities and lighter fare," he said.

The restaurant's closing underscores the problem of attracting people to downtown Hamilton at night and on weekends. Hamilton officials are working on economic development projects to address that problem.

Ruth Jacobs, who works for the Butler County Board of Elections at the Government Services Center, said she's sorry Tavo's closed. The Government Services Center adjoins the building that housed Tavo's.

"It was a good place to eat," Jacobs said. "I've never been disappointed when I've eaten there. They had a chicken salad to die for."

The closing caught Margie Miller by surprise. Miller, who works for the Butler County Clerk of Courts office, said she especially appreciated Tavo's food deliveries to customers' desks in the Government Services Center and One Renaissance.

Tavo's owners signed a renegotiated lease with the city on July 14. Under the new lease, there will be no set monthly payment. Instead, the city will receive 5 percent of the restaurant's gross revenues.

Under the old agreement, Tavo's paid the city $3,197 in base monthly rent, Deputy City Manager Mark Brandenburger said.

Before signing the new lease agreement, he said, the city made Tavo's pay $30,597 it owed in rent.


E-mail skemme@enquirer.com

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