Since leaving chef Jonathon Sawyer’s side at Trentina, Jeremy Umansky has been fine-tuning his modern ethnic delicatessen concept, Larder
, while scouting for the perfect location. His search led him all over town, but finally ended somewhere in the middle. After meeting with Graham Veysey, developer behind many of the Hingetown properties, he was shown the old firehouse building that also houses Rising Star Coffee.
“It was serendipitous finding the space,” Umansky says. “Right off the bat I thought to myself, this place has the aesthetic, the charm, the romance and allure. And being in the shape it was, we could see that this was going to be a fairly straightforward buildout for us.”
Built in 1854, the space in the firehouse has been a variety of things during its lifetime, most recently the main residence for Veysey and Marika Shioiri-Clark.
“We’ll have to add refrigeration, deli cases and a hood, but it’s an updated facility in terms of plumbing, electrical and HVAC, so we have a great shot of hitting our target date,” says Umansky.
That target is October.
When it opens in fall, Larder will be from-scratch Eastern European deli that will utilize many of the practices and techniques Umansky has been refining for years – techniques that include koji culturing, fermentation and foraging.
“We’re already 20 months into the concept,” Umansky says of his concept. “Some of the things that we do with our food, whether its koji, fermentation or some of the other ancient food practices that we use, are diners necessarily going to care about that? Some may, but the majority are coming in to get a sandwich and a cup of soup. If they are curious, we’re here and we’ve got a great story to tell. But when it comes down to it, we’re a deli and we’re selling sandwiches.”
Those sandwiches will include corned beef and the Larder pop-up approved Romanian pastrami, which is koji-cured, braised and smoked Ohio beef navel, which is the traditional cut. For the koji-cured and smoked fish, Umansky is sidestepping popular varieties like tuna and salmon in favor of a more local catch.
“We have this wonderful lake right by us that has awesome fish that comes out of it,” he says. “Our smoked fish will be primarily smelt and white bass.” The lox will be made from trout.
Like any respectable deli, this one will sell bagels and schmears, knishes and latkes, and babka and rugelach, prepared like all the breads, pastries and confections by wife and co-owner Allie. The chef de cuisine will be Kenny Scott.
Umansky is elated to finally have found a home for his long-simmering project, and from the sound of it, he’s sitting pretty.
“I think it’s going to be a fantastic spot,” he says. “It’s centrally located, it’s extremely dense in terms of housing, and in that part of Ohio City there isn’t much in terms of food.”