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Senate to open in Over-the-Rhine's Gateway Quarter this February

The much anticipated Senate Pub plans to open in early February according to owner/chef Daniel Wright.  The current plans are to host a family, friends and neighbors night sometime near the end of January and then open up the restaurant to the public just after that in early February.

The roughly 1,000 square-foot restaurant will introduce several new concepts to Cincinnati food lovers.  Described as "gourmet street food," the menu will consist of a variety of items ranging from $4 to $18 including gourmet hot dogs.  The hot dog selection will consist of seven different gourmet hot dogs with names like the Korean, Trailer Park, Croque Madame, and Hello Kitty, each made with 100 percent all-beef, natural casings and served on brioche buns made specifically for Senate.  Also on the menu will be a Sweet Potato Falafel Sandwich, Lobster BLT Sliders, Duck Fat Fries, and a PB&JF (peanut butter and jelly fois gras sandwich).

Wright said that Senate will feature eight craft beers on tap, four of which will only be found at Senate, and another 30 options available in bottle.  The restaurant will also have five white and five red wines available and will pay special attention to the growing field of mixology through the leadership of Daniel's wife, Lana Wright, who will serve as the restaurant's general manager and drink expert.

Senate's mixologist, Josh Treadway, has reportedly been doing a lot of research in New York, Chicago, and Bourbon Country - research that Wright believes will pay off for Senate's customers and offer them an authentic craft cocktail experience.

"West Coast mixologists use tradition and mix in newer and fresher ingredients," said Wright who went on to say that Senate would be doing more of the West Coast thing where they try to update the classics.

The restaurant seats 48 people inside with 16 people at the bar and a 10 person communal table near the open kitchen.  Senate will also feature Cincinnati's first accordion windows that allow the glass restaurant front to fold into itself and open the space out to Vine Street where another 20 people will be accommodated.

The restaurant space was developed by building owner Urban Sites, and designed by the Wrights who used their previous restaurant experience to design the space in combination with Urban Sites' experience elsewhere in the neighborhood by utilizing old milk crates to create storage behind the bar.  The shelving and cabinets are constructed from remnants of the original structure's pine floors.

The Wrights engaged the help of his neighbor Switch (a local lighting company) to select the lighting treatment to help complete the restaurant's sleek, modern aesthetic. The Wrights also are utilizing graphic designers Nati Evolvement for the restaurant's  logos, branding, website and t-shirts.  The "Senate" sign outside the new restaurant is a replica of a 1917 sign that Wright saw on a recent trip to the Sign Museum in Camp Washington.

"I've always wanted to own a restaurant, since I was a kid," said Wright who has spent 17-plus years in the restaurant business including five years as the chef at Souk in Chicago's Wicker Park/Bucktown area - a place that Wright feels is very similar to Over-the-Rhine.

"This neighborhood is going to change over the next ten years and we're excited about the direction it's heading," exclaimed Wright.  "Over the next five years we would love to do three different places in Over-the-Rhine."

As for the restaurant's name, Wright explained that Senate is a place for the neighborhood and that all business used to be done in the back of neighborhood salons where people would gather to discuss the issues important to them.

"The reason you surround yourself at the table with friends and family is to discuss the issues important to you - just like it's done in the Senate," said Wright.  "We want the foodies, young professionals, empty-nesters, and a steady stream of gay clientele to come in and make this their place."

Located at 1212 Vine Street (map) in the heart of Over-the-Rhine's Gateway Quarter, Senate will be open Tuesday through Thursday from 11am to 2pm and 4:30pm to 11pm; Friday from 11am to 2pm and 4:30pm to 2am; Saturday from 4pm to 2am; and Sunday from 12am to 10pm.  The patio along Vine Street will open this April once the weather improves, but Wright encourages everyone to stay tuned for their full menu and website release later this week.

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Scott Beseler
Stay connected by following Randy on Twitter @UrbanCincy
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