Four long-time friends and a bar in Chicago created the impetus for what is now a business that operates nine bars in the Cincinnati area, with plans for more soon.
Dave Halpern and Ben Klopp opened up AliveOne in Chicago in 1995; others soon followed. Miami University in Oxford grads Klopp and Halpern had stayed in touch with college friend, Bob Deck, who was in chiropractic school in Atlanta when AliveOne opened.
After moving back home to Cincinnati, Deck had conversations with Klopp and Halpern about expanding the AliveOne concept to another city. They chose Cincinnati and added Dan Cronican, Klopps childhood friend from Lima, Ohio, to help with the expansion.
The four friends opened up AliveOne and Mt. Adams Pavilion in 2002. They painted, hung light fixtures and even bartended at first. Today, the group of entrepreneurs runs The Lackman and Mt. Adams Pavillion as well as 7 other bars around Cincinnati.
Over the next few years, each member of the team developed a specialty. Klopp handles design and concepts; Deck runs the front of house operations and much of the marketing; Cronican handles the food operations; and Halpern still resides in Chicago opening bars there. The four work together to make sure the bars they open fit the vibe of the neighborhoods they are in. From the Lackman in Over-the-Rhine to Keystone in Covington and now Hyde Park to The Stand in Mt. Lookout, the bars offer just what their neighborhoods need.
“We go look at spaces all the time,” Deck says. “If we like the space, we all get together and brainstorm about an idea that would fit well in the area.”
In 2006, with four bars in operation in Cincinnati, the four friends decided to make a brand to include all of their locations. The name came from the number of partners and what all their businesses do. Four Entertainment Group
. Now with 25 managers and 250 employees, 4EG continues to open successful bar after successful bar.
“We needed a way to bring all our businesses together,” Deck says.
In a further effort to streamline their business, in January, the company will move into an office they had built at 1404 Race Street. The office will give the company a central location for day-to-day operations, which until now, have been spread across different bars.
Next for the four business partners, a bar next to the former Masionette location on Sixth Street. They hope to open that space in June 2012; and in 2013, they have committed to opening a space in U Square, between McMillan and Taft adjacent to University of Cincinnati’s Clifton campus.
By Evan Wallis