Neon's Unplugged to pay tribute to past, with a twist

Neon's has a strong history on Main Street in Over-the-Rhine.  The beautiful building that houses the former bar, architectural details, large outdoor patio area and of course the plentiful neon lighting made it an institution along Main Street.  After sitting relatively unused for the better part of a decade, the space has seen better days but remains in good shape.

The plans are being made to bring back Neon's, but with a contemporary twist more reflective of the neighborhood surrounding it.  Things were much different when the bar first opened in Over-the-Rhine during Main Street's heyday as a nightlife destination.  One of the major changes along Main Street, and the surrounding areas, is an increase in residents who are living there.

This change has created a more neighborhood feel for Main Street, reflected by the new businesses now opening up along the street.  As a result, neighborhood resident Michael Redmond, former project manager for 3CDC, Dan McDonald, and founder of Rhino's and Buddakan, Dan Dell, are looking to pay tribute to the history of Neon's by reincarnating it as a neighborhood establishment featuring acoustic music, bocce ball courts and leagues, food and drink, and plenty of outdoor space to relax.

"Many people are looking for that neighborhood space where they can come and relax after work, or maybe with some guests," said Redmond.  "We want this to be a neighborhood asset and feel that this is exactly something the neighborhood wants and needs."

The plans are to first open the large outdoor area, and as money is made, renovate the interior of the structure and opening parts of it at a time.  This approach really gives the customers a sense of ownership in the restoration of the building and institution that is Neon's, notes Redmond.

The team hopes to have the outdoor area ready in time for next year's Bockfest, but won't rule out the possibility of holding some event there before that.  The focus right now is on developing the concept and moving forward with all the necessary procedures.

"This can be a backyard for all the people living nearby," said Redmond, who also noted that Neon's Unplugged will be a comfortable atmosphere where people don't have to worry about their appearance.  "We really want to take this back to a neighborhood bar and let it be run by the people of the neighborhood."

Once open, Neon's Unplugged will have draft and bottle beer along with mixed drinks.  Right now the team is still working on a final agreement for the taps, but they hope to include Christian Moerlein as a major part of Neon's Unplugged in whatever way possible.

Writer: Randy A. Simes
Photography by Scott Beseler
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