The Spotted Owl
just celebrated its fifth anniversary in Tremont, and by the end of the month the cocktail bar will open a second location, this one in the West Hill neighborhood of Akron. Owner Will Hollingsworth has spent the past year converting the old Firehouse No. 3 at 60 S. Maple St. into an attractive, warmly lit watering hole. The turn-of-the-century building, once home to the fire station that now resides across the street, features 16-foot ceilings clad in gorgeous honey-toned wood. Cut-outs for a pair of fireman’s poles, now patched up, can still be seen above. The spacious 3,000-square-foot room will seat 75 guests at the bar, high-tops and a couple of sumptuous velvet booths.
“The building has great bones,” says Hollingsworth. “I wanted to keep things simple. The space knows what it wants to be, you just have to listen.”
Sporting an Old Hollywood meets Old Havana vibe, the room is done up in greens and golds, greys and blues. A handsome bar is wrapped in white tile and gilded with brass lamps, hooks and foot rails. Behind the bar is a stunning work of art commissioned from Ohio artist Dana Oldfather. On the opposite side of the room, an eclectic gallery wall rises up to meet the high ceilings. In another corner of the room is a small nook for live entertainment such as a jazz trio.
Unlike the Tremont Spotted Owl, this one features an open kitchen, from which a selection of small plates will flow.
“In West Hill, we’re not surrounded by restaurants the way the Tremont location is,” Hollingsworth points out. “We’re not going to be doing dinner – the cocktails are still the star of the show. But I want people to stick around.”
The cocktail menu will mirror that of the Tremont bar, where the current drinks format is built around a mood wheel that allows guests to point bartenders in the right direction when it comes to crafting original cocktails.
“We’ve been doing the cocktail wheel for the past two years and it really works,” Hollingsworth explains. “Our menus were getting more and more high-concept, more and more complicated, more and more expensive, and it wasn’t sustainable. We needed to totally flip the script. This style of cocktail menu makes the customer feel listened to and taken care and that’s what we are always trying to do.”
When the bar opens, likely in the last week of October, it will be overseen by general manager (and builder of bars) Sin-Jin Satayathum and beverage director Jacob Bender.
Owner Hollingsworth says that the southern expansion is somewhat of a proof of concept, a way for him to further test the viability of his brand. As he describes it, the Spotted Owl is firstly a bar and secondly a cocktail bar, operated with a “meat-and-potatoes” style of service where staffers dress as they wish, pull two-buck beers, pour ribbons of Old Granddad and mix world-class cocktails.
“I wanted to test out the product in a new market,” he says. “If it works in Tremont and it works in Akron, chances are it will work anywhere. It’s a bold experiment, but I feel good about it. The community has been really welcoming and everybody seems really excited.”
The Spotted Owl will be open 5 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday and 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
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