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Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Bellevue Gets in the Spirit with Newest Tavern

Charles Zimmerman, who owns The Three Spirits Tavern with his wife Leslie Blair, welcomes neighbors with craft beers, small plate foods and spirits -- of all sorts

 By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor

Over the summer Bellevue quietly welcomed Three Spirits Tavern to Fairfield Avenue. While a grand opening is in the works for this fall, the pub and eatery is already a popular spot “on the Avenue.”

Leslie Blair and Charles Zimmerman, with their daughter, form the three spirits behind the tavern located at 209 Fairfield Ave. The couple, who are both realtors and own Towne and Country Realty House in Edgewood, did not start out to open a new business.

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They had the idea to find a house near the river they could perhaps rent out for a few years until their daughter went to college and then have a nice home for retirement.

Zimmerman, who grew up in Bellevue, had been singing the praises of his hometown to clients but hadn’t looked here. When the house on Fairfield became available, he decided to at least take a look.

"So we were looking but we couldn’t find anything and this house came up for sale,” explained Zimmerman. “It has one of the largest lots in the city...I walked in, and I saw the twelve-foot ceilings, the original hardwood floors. I thought this place would be a beautiful tavern or restaurant."

He discussed it with Blair, and they decided to take the plunge. They hadn’t run a restaurant before but had operated their own business and had friends in the business. Zimmerman said he was thrilled to be back in Bellevue and has been pleased at the reception he’s received from officials and from neighbors.

"It took six months of planning and going to the review board and council, but everyone in the city and the county seemed happy to help and wanted us to succeed," he said.

The family is still on the lookout for a house, but until they find it, they are living in an apartment above the tavern. They plan to turn the second-floor living space into an air B & B.

Creating a place locals can call "home"

Zimmerman said he felt there was a definite need in the area for Three Spirits, a place that residents could call their own. "That’s what the idea of a public house comes from, turning a home into a public space for everyone to use."

The menu has three elements he says, "great spirits, craft beer and small plate foods."

While the tavern has an oven and refrigerator, it does not have a kitchen and to put one in would be expensive and would take up space. So, the owners entered into a unique partnership with another area business, Kate’s Catering in Dayton.

Kate’s provides flatbreads and other custom foods that the tavern puts together and serves on the premises. "We offer a Mediterranean board that has hummus, tzatziki, baba ghanoush...We offer two different seasonal flat breads and two types of seasonal empanadas – and Hanky Panky, everyone’s favorite."

Zimmerman said Hanky Panky is something fairly unique to our area. The menu reads "a warm crock of cheesy sausage and goetta served with cocktail bread." It’s a stick-to-your-ribs food, he said.

"One of the beautiful things about Northern Kentucky, specifically Campbell County, is everyone works together. We went to Kate’s a year ago...she immediately got our concept, the vibe, the type of people in our neighborhood. She knew the people already."

The interior of Three Spirits Tavern features dark wood and warm lighting


Nothing spooky going on here – or is there?

It may seem like a coincidence that Zimmerman and Blair closed on their tavern on October 31, 2017, but since then they’ve heard tales. Neighbors told the couple the place was indeed haunted, and Blair admitted there have been some things that have been hard to explain. She contacted Gatekeeper Paranormal to do an investigation in August and is waiting for the results.

"Shortly after we got the property, I was standing outside and a lady walked up to me and asked if I was the new owner. I said yes and she said 'Did you know your place is haunted?'"

And then, soon after, a neighbor also told Zimmerman the same thing. She said the woman who lived there previously would ask people to go up to the third floor and turn off the light for her. The light would go on mysteriously despite no one being up there.

Small things have happened since, he said. Nothing ominous, but contractors working on the house said they felt a strange vibe. Zimmerman said he thinks none of the spirits in the house wish the three spirits living there or their patrons any harm. It’s all in fun. In fact, the owners have Halloween in their sites for a possible celebration of their six-months-in-business milestone.

A place for gatherings 


The Three Spirits Tavern in Bellevue offers space for group gatherings.

Zimmerman listed off several types of cocktails available at the bar including a Sunday only Bellevue Bloody Mary and a host of special cocktails. Since its opening, Three Spirits has hosted birthday parties, fundraisers, baby showers and other events.

For tavern is open Thursdays through Mondays. For more details and news, check out the Three Spirits Tavern Facebook page.

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