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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Local Restaurateur Looking to Open Restaurant on Grand Avenue

Hunter Thomas's family-style restaurant Padrino's would be the model for his Fort Thomas eatery. It is located at 111 Main Street in Milford, Ohio.

By Robin Gee, City Council Beat Editor 

Fort Thomas resident Hunter Thomas has been interested in opening a restaurant in Fort Thomas for some time. He has two successful restaurant businesses in Milford, Ohio, and now has an opportunity to open a new establishment closer to his home.

While the details of sale of the property have still to be worked out, he said the end goal is to open a restaurant at 14 North Grand Avenue. He has taken the first step toward that goal by applying for a zoning map amendment that would change the zone from Professional Office to General Commercial.

14 N. Grand Avenue is the proposed spot for the restaurant. 

The building is currently home to a well-known local law firm. David Fessler, a partner in the firm shared this statement, "The law firm of Fessler, Schneider and Grimme has been approached by a potential buyer who has interest in our location. We are considering our options regarding this matter," he said.

"If our firm decides to sell, we will be relocating our practice to another location, but nothing else will change. We will provide the same quality representation by the same lawyers. If we decide to relocate the practice, we fully intend on remaining in Ft. Thomas," he added.

Now open on Memorial Parkway!

 A family style eatery that would fit right in

Thomas owns 20 Brix, an upscale bistro and wine shop, and a full-service family-style Italian restaurant and pizzeria, Padrino. The idea for the Fort Thomas restaurant would be very similar to that of Padrino.

"I’m at the point where my two restaurants in Milford have come into their own. The staff is very responsible. I can step away and work on another project. I’ve been able to look around Fort Thomas and think what would go well here," said Thomas.

"I think a restaurant like Padrino would be great. Family-style Italian with homemade lasagna, manicotti, homemade meatballs. I’d start with a carbon copy of Padrino but over time we would adjust it here and there. It would all depend on the community, what people here want."

Thomas is hoping to add outdoor seating. There are between 13 and 15 parking spaces behind the building. He will ask the city for some leeway with the parking.

Making cautious plans for the future

Right now, in addition to the law firm, there is an apartment on the second floor of the building. Thomas plans to keep renting out that space for now. “I want to take it slow, have the restaurant on the first floor and lease to a tenant upstairs,” he explained.

Over time, depending on the success of the restaurant, he may have other ideas for the space, he said, but for now he wants to stick with what he knows and what he does best.

"I am used to one specific thing. The size of the restaurant, what to do with it, how to manage it. I don’t want to get overly zealous," he said. In other words, one step at a time, and the first step is a family-style restaurant on the first floor with outdoor seating.

Thomas's wife is from Fort Thomas, and he says he is happy he has made it his home for the past 17 years.

"I’ve been wanting to do this since I moved here...this location is exciting, a great place for a family-style restaurant, a great place for people to meet after football or basketball games or after a play, a dance competition...Parents can enjoy a nicer meal while the kids eat their chicken tenders."

If all goes well with zoning and other plans, Thomas would like to open in spring but will play it by ear. He already has ideas for local contractors and designers he’d like to work with and, of course, will look to hire Fort Thomas residents. One of his current employees is an NKU student who is excited about the possible opportunity to work closer to school.

(UPDATE) Although the initial plan was for the Planning and Zoning Committee to set a public hearing for the map amendment and stage one development plan for its October meeting, Thomas has withdrawn his application for now because he needs more time to gather all the information needed. News about a public hearing will be forthcoming once he is ready to resubmit.

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