New restaurant and bourbon bar coming to Hamilton with Prohibition theme

Nic & Norm’s Sidecar Bar will have a Prohibition theme, with hopes for opening in first quarter of 2022.

Nicci Meece, whose father once owned an Irish/German pub at 2nd and Chestnut streets a few decades ago, is creating a Hamilton restaurant and bourbon bar herself at 221 S. B Street. It will be called Nic & Norm’s Sidecar Bar, and will have a Prohibition theme.

Meece, who moved to Butler County at age 15 and graduated from Talawanda High School in 1992, is a building rehabber who had been looking for a good site for the restaurant for a couple of years.

She bought the B Street property from Matt Pater, who has restored the Arches Saloon at 233 S. B St., and had planned to create another establishment where Meece’s restaurant will be. But instead, he and other partners are creating another restaurant/bar/reception hall not far to the south along the Great Miami River in the former Knights of Columbus hall at 930 Pyramid Hill Blvd. It will be called Hamilton Landing.

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She chose the Prohibition era for a theme because it was “a time when Hamilton was booming,” she said. There also was some criminal excitement during that period, when some called the city “Little Chicago.”

People are donating photographs from the time period.

Meece’s life partner, Brad Reid, will be the restaurant’s general manager. They hope for an opening in the first quarter of 2022.

“We’re gearing more toward a bourbon-style bar,” with a number of meals that feature bacon because smoked meat and bourbon go well together, she said.

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“It’s something we wanted to do for a while,” Meece said. “We just couldn’t find the right building, the right place,” she said. “To me, it’s like a tribute to my Dad (Norman Mize), who owned a bar around these parts,” she said. Her father was a quarterback for Hamilton High School and is in the school’s hall of fame.

The restaurant, which will seat 90, will have exposed brick and an industrial feel, including some industrial lights from the former Champion Paper mill. Within a few years, she hopes to add a cigar smoke-house in the back where people can enjoy cigars and bourbon.

“We’re trying to pull in a bunch of the history of Hamilton and bring it all in there,” Meece said. “It’s going to be very raw.”

Crews will be demolishing a barn and adding an extension to the back of the building. There also will be a 20-by-50-foot patio behind that for outdoor seating. The barn’s removal will make space for parking.

They recently bought a vintage motorcycle sidecar, and it will be displayed in front of the building. A sidecar also was a popular drink from the Prohibition era, she said.

She’s thankful to Pater because it was through meeting him and his fiancee, Julie Ferguson, that the project’s location was found.

“I would love to see us revitalize that whole Rossville area,” Meece said, “especially that whole block that we’re on, just to make it a beautiful part of town again.”

“We’re trying to get some other people on board as well to keep moving forward, and keep buying buildings and refurbishing them.”

Another bourbon bar, Billy Yanks, may open in late July on Main Street.

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