College Hill business district welcomes Shhhhh Restaurant

The College Hill neighborhood business district (NBD) is one of Cincinnati’s lesser known NBDs that ranks up there with some of the best.  Here in the Northern ring of the city sits a diverse collection of local businesses among a well-maintained urban fabric and an interesting streetscape that encourages pedestrian activity.

The neighborhood is currently the focus of the City’s Neighborhood Enhancement Program – a 90-day focused effort that integrates community redevelopment and services that include concentrated building code enforcement, identifying and ‘cooling down’ crime hot spots, cleaning up streets and vacant lots, beautifying landscapes and streetscapes and engaging residents to create a more livable neighborhood.

One of the important components of the College Hill focus was the former Woolworth's store that has long sat vacant. That changed this past Friday as Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory helped cut the ribbon that marked the grand opening event for Shhhhh Restaurant, the area's newest local business.

The transformation of the abandoned building was a welcomed event from a community anxious to see the restaurant open up for business.  “It’s a great boost to College Hill’s redevelopment efforts in our business district.  Shhhhh has transformed a vacant building into an exciting venue and promises a great dining experience,” says Elizabeth Sherwood, president of the College Hill Forum.

Shhhhh Restaurant will include a home-style Cajun menu that features a variety of Louisiana staples like red beans and rice, jambalaya, gumbo and seafood.  The Creole menu, combined with a contemporary interior design, work to create an ambiance of elegant ease and comfort.

The restaurant features a deli for standard breakfast and lunch fare during the day, and a full-menu restaurant/bar for dinner and after-hours pub grub.  There is also a stage for musical performances that will feature live jazz on the weekends.

Spencer McKinney, a College Hill native and Aiken graduate, is the owner and visionary behind the new restaurant.  Originally, the concept for the Creole restaurant and Jazz club was a dream for McKinney and his mother who passed away earlier this year.  McKinney has since carried out the plans in honor of his mother and .

“I was born and raised in Cincinnati, here in the heart of College Hill.  My career took me all over the United States and abroad, and I have seen many places – but this is where I call home,” says McKinney.

As the restaurant settles in, McKinney's hope is that it will grow into a place where people from all walks of life can feel comfortable while enjoying a hearty meal. As a small local business, McKinney  intends to do his part by contributing to the economic vitality of the neighborhood.

Shhhhh Restaurant is open daily from 10am to 10pm.  The deli portion of the restaurant is open immediately which will be followed in a couple of weeks by the opening of the restaurant/bar portion.

Writer: Randy Simes
Source: Spencer McKinney, owner, Shhhhh Restaurant

Photography by Amber Kersley
Spencer McKinney
Mayor Mark Mallory partaking in the ribbon cutting ceremony