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Rhinehaus sports bar targets OTR locals, soccer fans

Aaron Kohlhepp and Jack Weston were two single guys on a mission: to find a place to watch March Madness in Over-the-Rhine. What started as a joke over drinks about starting their own bar will soon launch rhinehaus, Over-the-Rhine’s newest sports bar.

The venue will launch in mid-December at the corner of 12th and Clay streets, not far from Japps. Kohlhepp and Weston both have generous employers who will let them cut back from full- to part-time positions at local financial institutions; Kohlhepp works in corporate marketing and Weston in accounting.

Kohlhepp says that discussions turned to concrete planning once they found their current space, an OTR building constructed in the late 1800s that has hardwood floors and exposed brick. “We found that space and just thought it was a good spot on the main corridor between Main Street and everything that’s going on on Vine," he says. "Eventually the streetcar will go right past us, and the casino [that opens next spring] is just a couple blocks away.”

The rhinehaus name is a play not only on the bar’s local digs and Cincinnati’s German roots, but also its former occupant, Rhino’s Bar. Currently, renovations in the space include replacing the storefront and adding floor-to-ceiling glass
windows.

Because both Kohlhepp and Weston are soccer fans, their first order of business will be to broadcast English Premier League soccer games on weekends. They’re also wading through the process of getting a liquor license and brainstorming ways to partner with other local businesses.

One hurdle the duo has faced is the fact that while the bar has 18 taps, it doesn’t have a kitchen. “We’ve reached out to a couple of the food trucks in town and we’re going to talk to more of them in the coming weeks," Kohlhepp says. "We want people to be here three-plus hours to watch games, so we’re going to try to feed them."

By Robin Donovan
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