New attraction: Beach-themed tiki bar, entertainment center planned along Great Miami River

New owners of the former Knights of Columbus building on the west bank of the Great Miami River are planning an indoor/outdoor multi-purpose entertainment complex that will embrace the waterway.

The combined facility, called Hamilton Landing, will open in three phases on about 2½ acres of riverfront at 930 Pyramid Hill Blvd.

First will be a large “beach-themed tiki bar” along the riverbank that can seat about 200, which the owners hope will open in the early summer, depending on when liquor licenses are approved. Events may happen even earlier.

Next is to be an indoor event center for functions, wedding receptions and band performances. That may open by the fall, with work happening inside the 10,000-square-foot building during days when the outdoor bar isn’t open.

A high-end restaurant with perhaps two bar, in the part of the building closest to the road is the final part of the plan. The indoor facilities together may hold 400 or more at a time.

Matt Pater, a sixth-generation Hamilton resident, and his fiance, Julie Ferguson, own the facility along with Andy and Jennifer Barlow.

Pater spent almost two decades as a homebuilder in that Nashville area before moving back to town recently where he and Ferguson bought what now is Arches Saloon at 233 S. B St. and upgraded the building and the bar’s clientele to curb crime in that area of town.

Andy Barlow has run several clubs through the years, including the floating former Covington Landing complex on the Ohio River and around the University of Cincinnati complex, and parking systems in Greater Cincinnati. Jennifer Barlow does a lot of event programming and planning. Both Barlows were very involved in community organizations in Cincinnati and Green Twp. before moving to Butler County two years ago.

The owners, who bought the property for $450,000, are exploring ideas for the restaurant but more immediately are focused on the first two stages. They expect to spend about $750,000 to $1 million to upgrade the property.

Glass garage doors will be installed on two sides of the building to create indoor/outdoor possibilities.

“We want to do a lot with community giveback,” Andy Barlow said, noting Pater and Ferguson regularly have fundraisers for people the community at Arches. “And we want to do that with the new place.”

Pater fondly recalls visiting the property as a child with his grandparents.

“It was one of the exclusive places to go to in Hamilton,” he said.

He wants to return the now-deteriorated building to its former level of distinction, with some homage to Hamilton’s history.

Also, “We want to capitalize on the river,” Jennifer Barlow said.

Not all about Spooky Nook

The gigantic, under-construction Spooky Nook sports complex in northern Hamilton was “the main reason I came back into investing in Hamilton” two years ago, Pater said. “Along with that, though, we want to design a business that isn’t solely dependent on Spooky Nook.”

But they want Hamilton Landing to be a destination more for local people wanting weekend fun, dancing and a good meal than merely for the athletic facility’s visitors, Pater said.

One advantage of the facility’s size is even if the COVID-19 pandemic continues and physical-distancing restrictions remain, “we’re able to accomplish that, and still have a good amount of occupancy.”

Also, Andy Barlow said, “We’re see a lot of pent-up demand. People are looking to get on out. So we’re following the (medical) restrictions by opening our outdoor area first, where it’s a safer area.”

“We’re going to be totally different from what everybody else has already done,” Andy Barlow said.

About the Author