In Melt, Press

Wellmann’s Brands gets into Restaurant Biz

MON, 01/04/2016 – CINCINNATI.COM

Best known for its craft cocktails, Wellmann’s Brands is getting into the restaurant business.

The company, which owns the bars The Famous Neons Unplugged and Japp’s Since 1879 in Over-the-Rhine, as well as Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar in Covington and Myrtle’s Punch House in East Walnut Hills, has purchased Melt restaurant in Northside and its sister business, Picnic and Pantry shop and catering company in Over-the-Rhine. Lisa Kagen, who owned both of those businesses, will stay on as Wellmann’s Brands’ executive chef.

Molly Wellmann said she and her partners are still figuring out the details of how the two brands will work together. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“It’s the first time we’ve bought a business, so that was a big deal,” Wellman said. “Now, the real work begins to figure out what we’re going to do.”

For one, she and her partners have long wanted to add food to their bars.

“We wanted to jump into the food ring for a while, but we don’t cook,” she said. When Kagen reached out, Wellmann and her partners saw it as the right fit.

“I’m really excited to work with (Kagen),” she said. “She knows food, and I know drinks.” And Kagen’s practice of making from-scratch food using fresh, local ingredients fits well with Wellmann’s Brands’ philosophy, Wellmann said.

But it might be a while before you can get a sandwich at one of the Wellmann’s Brands bars. The company has to work out the logistics, Wellmann said, and it doesn’t have a time frame for when that might happen.

In the meantime, Wellmann said the company won’t change the menu at Melt, which has operated in Northside for about 10 years. (The company hasn’t made a decision as to whether it will add a cocktail menu there.) In fact, the company hopes to add additional Melt locations, though Wellmann said she and her partners have not identified where those locations might be. At Picnic and Pantry, plans call for expanding catering and in-store offerings.

The acquisition is already allowing Wellmann’s Brands to offer in-house catering for private and special events at its bars.

Wellmann said the company will announce more details about possible changes as they become available. But for now, she’s excited about the possibilities that the acquisition affords.

“Our whole goal is to provide places for people to enjoy themselves,” she said. “This just moves it a step forward.”

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