Clyborne’s brings big-city vibe to Mason’s dining scene

Menu is collaboration of entire chef team, and wine list is extensive.

Mason may be a small city, but it’s a quickly-developing one, and lots of bustling business is flooding in. One such business, S.W. Clyborne Co. Provision & Spirits (Clyborne’s for short), brings the sort of dining experience typically found in bigger cities while sticking to its founders’ suburban roots.

Tucked in an unassuming strip mall, with a sleek, industrial interior, Clyborne’s opened in April 2018. It’s owned and operated by Looking Glass Hospitality, founded by Scott Schmidt and Will Wadsworth.

The goal of LGH is to “build a unique collection of independent restaurant concepts and provide career opportunities for like-minded hospitality professionals who enjoy taking care of people and creating memorable dining experiences,” said Nancy Parrott, LGH’s vice president of marketing.

Both Wadsworth and Schmidt are Mason residents and wanted to create more independent dining options in their home city, rather than trek 40-plus minutes to Cincinnati every time they wanted a unique dining experience. The name came from their initials and a nod to Schmidt’s first restaurant off Clybourne Avenue in Chicago.

“Provision & Spirits” references Mason’s history as a provision stop for stagecoaches and trains.

The contrast between the exterior and interior was intentional. Wadsworth and Schmidt wanted guests to be surprised when they went inside and feel as though they were transported to a chic downtown restaurant.

The décor scheme is described as “Victorian Post-Industrial,” with steampunk-inspired tables, pre-World War II china, a gargoyle street lamp in the middle of the dining room, and a porthole window on the door that separates the bar room from the dining room.

The restaurant also has a chef’s table that allows guests to watch their food being made, ask questions and engage the kitchen staff.

Schmidt and Wadsworth wanted their menu to be as chic and memorable as the décor, as well as accessible, seasonal, fresh and accommodating. Everything is made fresh, and the restaurant doesn’t even have a freezer. The menu is a collaboration of the entire chef team, rather than the brainchild of one person.

Clyborne’s also has an extensive wine list, along with signature cocktails such as the Clyborne’s Peach Old Fashioned. Schmidt, who also served as the general contractor for the building, is a level two certified sommelier, and he developed the cocktails and wine list.

The pricing is set at state minimum, as Schmidt and Wadsworth believe that guests shouldn’t have to spend an exorbitant amount of money to enjoy a nice glass of wine.

One thing that sets Clyborne’s apart is the devotion to accommodating guests’ dietary needs. Wadsworth and Schmidt both have family members with allergies and food intolerances, so accommodating various dietary restrictions was paramount. All fryers are gluten-free, and the kitchen has strict protocols such as using color-coded tools for gluten-free foods to avoid cross-contamination.

There are several gluten-free options on the menu, including fried chicken and the fish and chips that are on the menu during Lent.

“We believe that gluten-free can still be delicious and enjoyable,” Parrott said. “When opening Clyborne’s, Scott issued a challenge to the culinary team to create a gluten-free fried chicken for the menu. Chef Will Wadsworth and Chef Mark Bodenstein spent months developing many iterations before landing on the gluten-free fried chicken that is still on the menu today.”

The COVID-19 pandemic was difficult on the food and beverage industry as a whole, but the difficult circumstances rallied Clyborne’s devoted regular customers. They helped Clyborne’s by purchasing gift cards and meal kits and by ordering takeout. LGH’s dedication to taking care of their guests was repaid.

“Our first night with carryout was a disaster but people gave us grace and they kept coming back,” Parrott said. “When we were able to reopen our doors, people put their trust in us and came back to dine in. We are forever grateful for the support we received and it will never be forgotten.”

How to go

What: Clyborne’s

Where: 5948 Snider Road in Mason

Hours: 4-9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday 4-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

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