Restaurant with cocktails, wine, small plates set for core Centerville site

Meridien aims to open this fall in the former Sweeney’s Seafood location

CENTERVILLE — The building that was formerly home to Sweeney’s Seafood Bar & Grill will soon be a restaurant aiming to offer a new experience on each visit.

Meridien should open by this fall at 28 W. Franklin St. in Centerville, Rhonda and Matt Hiatt of Centerville told this news outlet.

“We will be specializing in cocktails, wine and small plates inspired by different experiences and cuisines from all around the world,” Rhonda Hiatt said. “We have been very fortunate to do a lot of travel around the world and we’ve had some amazing experiences, but at home we don’t have a lot of more upscale cocktail, really nice glass of wine, charcuterie-board plate ... (type of places).”

Rather than “a bar experience,” of which there are many in the region, she said, the couple wants Meridien to be “a place where community and culture can kind of intersect.”

“We want to make sure that every time you come in, it’d be a little bit different, kind of like when you travel somewhere that you might have been before or you’ve never been before, there’s always a bit of discovery and exploration and just a really fun time where you can socialize with friends, meet new people and really relax and enjoy yourself,” Hiatt said.

Before the restaurant can open, it will undergo extensive renovations to its interior and exterior, she said.

Sweeney’s Seafood Bar & Grill closed late last year. It was founded in 1994 by Ron and Christy Sweeney, who sold it in 2012 and went on to launch Sea Jax Tavern in Kettering two years later. A restaurant has operated out of the Franklin Street space since 1959, when an Italian restaurant named Antonio’s opened there.

Besides purchasing the restaurant, the Hiatts also acquired two other buildings at 18 West Franklin and 24 West Franklin because the three properties were being sold as a lot. “We have some ideas about other concepts we might explore in the future, but right now those are occupied by tenants and we are very happy to support the tenants that are currently there,” she said.

The restaurant is named Meridien — the French spelling of meridian — “because it’s about connecting the different aspects of the world. The meridians are ... the rings around the world, so we’re kind of using the tagline of ‘inspired by rounds around the world.’”

The search for the right spot for the restaurant took the past 18 months, Hiatt said.

“We have looked at a number of different properties, but we really want to be in Centerville,” she said. “There’s obviously a lot going on uptown right now. We’re really excited about some of the other businesses that have recently opened and look forward to collaboration.”

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