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Ohio City staple Bar Cento transforms into 'Bright Side' | Doug Trattner reports

The new restaurant opens Friday!

OHIO CITY, Ohio — It’s been 17 and 15 years, respectively, since partners Sam McNulty and Mark Priemer opened Bier Markt and Bar Cento in Ohio City. This past October, the partners announced that they were closing both venues to make way for something new.

True to their words, the team has revealed a completely new restaurant and bar that will shock longtime customers. The main objective was to bring the energy of the former businesses to the front of the large space. They accomplished that by building a 44-seat island bar just steps from the front façade, which is now a wall of glass that opens to the street.

“This front area was this historic, former department store from the 1800s,” McNulty says. “It didn't really present to the street well. So one of the main thrusts of this renovation is to bring the bar forward. It's really a bar-forward concept."

Credit: Megan Gallgher - 3News

From there, the idea was to introduce as much light, color and energy as possible.

“Everything was very dim, low lit, dark colors,” adds McNulty. “We just turned it around, flipped the script, and went to the bright side."

Bright Side, by the way, is the name for the new concept.

In the rear, where Bar Cento had long operated, there is still an open kitchen and chef’s counter, but even that received a major upgrade.

“We've converted, really, what was the Bar Cento bar into more of a chef's table.”

In that kitchen is longtime Market Garden Brewery chef-partner Andrew Bower, who gets assistance from chef Steve Schimoler. Together, the chefs have created an entirely new menu of creative comfort foods made with healthy, local ingredients. 

The menu features several items geared to vegans, vegetarians and diners searching for something fresh and delicious. Observant customers will find one or two holdovers from Bar Cento. "We're going to still do pizzas, but instead of using a chemical leavener, we're going to do a natural leavener,” says Bower. “The pomme frites are still around. Our aiolis have changed too."

Asked to rattle off some of his new favorites, chef Bower says, “tuna tartar. Probably the clams, clams with a miso sauce with sourdough bread. And I really like the half baked chicken."

Looking ahead to Friday's opening, partner Mark Priemer says that the timing couldn’t be better. We’re approaching peak summer and the neighborhood has never been more active and vibrant.

"There are two million visitors a year to the West Side Market, to the Market District, so it’s just a fun time to be reinventing ourselves here in Ohio City,” says Preimer.

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