Nod to newspapers part of fine dining, event center experience
Business partners Adam Rammel, Brian Wall and Jeramy Fitzpatrick found a successful formula when they opened Brewfontaine in 2015. The award-winning tap room and restaurant offers patrons the chance to sample unique, locally-sourced sandwiches and other specialties and craft-made brews in an intimate atmosphere that pays homage to the building’s past as the former Nick Johnson’s Deli.
At their newest venture that officially opens Thursday, Aug. 27 — The Syndicate — a fine dining restaurant, event space and entertainment center located next door at 613 S. Main St., they again are honoring this site’s history as the former location of Jackson’s News Stand from 1946 to 1993.
“People have really enjoyed that nod to the past at Brewfontaine, and we’ve had that same goal in mind with The Syndicate,” Rammel said. “It’s incorporating a lot of our local history with modern elements and amenities to offer guests with a memorable time.
“When Brewfontaine first opened, we were first known for our beer, but then we began to be known for our food and receiving requests from people to rent out that space.
“Instead of simply expanding Brewfontaine, we decided to elevate things by offering a beautiful space in downtown Bellefontaine to host special events and offer residents and visitors alike a great restaurant and event experience.”
Beginning Thursday, the restaurant will be serving dinner from 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday and brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with reservations recommended and hours subject to change based on private events.
Diners entering the 5,000-square-foot space will be immersed in the newspaper industry and a big city feel, with exposed ceilings and custom tile flooring in the main dining area.
The walls feature historic dates and happenings from the front pages of local newspapers, including the Bellefontaine Examiner and its former namesake, the Daily Examiner, detailing World War II stories, the JFK assassination and more.
In addition, designers for the project collaborated with the Logan County History Center to create wallpaper by the entry doors featuring historic ads from the local newspaper as well, including advertisements for 19 cent malts and shakes at Dairy Queen and an $88 bedroom suite at Tanger’s Furniture among others.
Also in the interior dining area that seats 100, or approximately 75 according to current social distancing guidelines, a large, custom-built bar fabricated specifically for the space by Holdren Brothers Inc. of West Liberty resembles a New York-style newsstand. The bar also features salvaged glass windows from former downtown Bellefontaine businesses and large quartz countertops.
A front patio faces Main Street and will be all-weather accessible. J.A. Innovations LLC and Dovetail Metal Sign & Design teamed up for bar top and metal railing in this area.
At the rear of the restaurant is a back patio that will seat up to 200, or about 120 with the current health guidelines.
The original Jackson’s News Stand sign, on permanent loan from the Logan County History Center, serves as the main centerpiece as guests enter this outdoor area. At the “Off the Record” patio and beer garden, there is space for future ticketed live music concerts with local and national bands, beer pairings, wine tastings, weddings and other events.
Construction of The Syndicate kicked off in the spring of 2019. It was designed and constructed by Mote & Associates, Revival Design Studio and Link Construction, and financed by Citizens Federal Saving and Loan Association.
Prior to the COVID-19 crisis of this year, Fitzpatrick, Wall and Rammel had planned The Syndicate to serve primarily as an event space that could be rented out for weddings, private celebrations and parties, special events and corporate meetings.
While those options are available for booking private events, the restaurant partners realized that the pandemic has halted many larger-scale gatherings, and decided that also opening as a restaurant serving dinner and brunch would be a wise way to weather the unusual times.
Approximately 30 new staff members have been hired to work as hosts, kitchen staff and culinary specialists at The Syndicate, Rammel said.
“We’ve brought in some experienced culinary talent and have been working to train new talent as well,” he said. “The presentation of the dishes is just beautiful; we are excited for our guests to try out the menu, with a number of locally sourced-ingredients with local partners, many that people will recognize from the Logan County Farmers’ Market.”
Signature dishes start at $22 and include: Crab Cakes with Asian slaw, rice and mango sauce; Calamari with a sweet chili sauce, sesame seeds and cilantro lime drizzle; Mahi Mahi en Papillote with Caribbean seasoning, orange slices, mango pineapple salsa and cilantro lime drizzle wrapped in banana leaves; Salmon Ponzu with rice, ponzu sauce and bok choy; Steak Filet with truffle mashed potatoes, asparagus and a demi-glace; and Fried Chicken with a sweet heat mix and chicken gravy.
Among dessert menu items are chocolate lava cake, classic creme brulée and cheesecake.
Rammel said The Syndicate will be one of the Logan County restaurants serving brunch on the weekends, with specialty items including shrimp and grits for $17, chicken and sweet potato waffles for $16, to praline pecan French toast for $12, along with breakfast burritos, omelettes and biscuits and gravy.
Some of the newspaper-themed cocktails include: The Syndicate Old Fashioned — Old Forester, smoked orange, cherry, sugar cube and orange bitters; The Journal — Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Aperol, raspberry rosemary syrup and prosecc; and The Times — El Jimador tequila, fresh strawberries, lime, egg whites and Hummingbird bitters. An extensive wine list from around the world also is offered.
Cocktail hour bites are served from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday as well.
The brunch cocktails list features a fun twists on drinks like the Mimosa Margarita and Bourbon Brunch, which includes Makers Mark, coffee liquor, vanilla extract, heavy cream and freshly brewed coffee topped with bacon. Fans of Brewfontaine’s signature Bloody Mary will find a more robust version of the drink on the menu.
Both on-site and off-site catering is available for private events.