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FOOD NEWS: New owners reveal plans for The Florentine restaurant

Clay Alsip and Beth Vanden Berg, the husband-and-wife team that last week purchased the historic Florentine restaurant in Germantown, have big plans for Ohio’s second-oldest inn that dates to 1816.

But first and foremost, they say, the Germantown-area couple want to make it clear their plans won’t in any way diminish the historic nature of the 7,000-square-foot restaurant and former hotel space at 21 W. Market St.

PHOTOS: Take a look inside the beautiful, historic Florentine Inn in Germantown

“We love this building, and we love Germantown,” Vanden Berg said. “We intend to preserve the historic charm of the building. We want to help bring it back to its heyday.”

The interior of the The Florentine restaurant in Germantown, which dates to 1816, and which has new, local ownership. MARK FISHER/STAFF (Staff Writer)

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The restaurant has shut down for minor maintenance and to give the kitchen a deep-cleaning, Alsip and Vanden Berg said. If all goes as planned, the restaurant will be back up and running by mid-February.

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The couple have a restaurant manager lined up to operate the restaurant starting next month, but said their long-term preference would be to lease the space to an experienced restaurateur to run the food operations. The main dining room seats about 85, while a second dining room can accommodate another 85 or so diners. An upstairs banquet room also is available.

Menu highlights include Prime Rib, BBQ Ribs, Orange Roughy, and steaks such as Filet Mignon and New York Strip.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Chef shocked that Ohio’s 2nd-oldest inn is still for sale

Alsip, a Germantown native, recalls eating at The Florentine when he was 13. He and Vanden Berg contemplated buying the property, because of their love of the building and the community that it anchors. “We finally made the call” to the property’s listing agent, Alsip said.

The Florentine in Germantown in April 2006. Staff file photo by Gary Stelzer (Staff Writer)

“We’re really excited about it, and we want to get it back up and running as soon as we possibly can,” he said.

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In their 2007 book “A Taste of Ohio History: A Guide to Historic Eateries and Their Recipes,” authors Debbie Nunley and Karen Jane Elliott note that the Florentine “has withstood the passage of time.”

“That ornate iron balcony, fabricated at the ironworks in the Oregon District of nearby Dayton, still stands today. In fact, the entire structure looks almost identical to its earlier days. The barn-red clapboard exterior trimmed in taupe looks like something you’d find on the set of an old Western. I kept expecting Marshal Dillon and Miss Kitty to come walking out the door.”

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