The first Agave & Rye opened in Covington, Ky. in early 2018. The chain added locations in Liberty Township a year ago and in the Rookwood Center in northern Cincinnati less than three weeks ago. It also operates locations in Lexington and Louisville. Its concept has generated some industry buzz: a story published in August 2019 on fsrmagazine.com, which covers the full-service restaurant industry, was headlined: “Agave & Rye’s Ambitious Plan to Open 100 Locations: The spirit-infused bar and restaurant is planning a Midwest takeover.”
Sarber promised customers they will have “a total epic experience” at the restaurant. In fact, the word “epic” is used on the Agave & Rye home page to describe the food, drinks and environment, too.
“We want you to not be able to wait until the next time you come back,” Sarber said in an interview.
Each Agave & Rye is in essence a tequila bar and a bourbon bar inside a Mexican-inspired restaurant. The Troy location, like its sister restaurants, will feature a selection of 87 tequilas and 87 bourbons.
The food menu includes 20 specialty double-shell (crunchy corn and soft flour) tacos, including the “Swipe Right Honey," with lime-grilled chicken, sweet/spicy bacon, aged white cheddar, salsa and sour cream; the “Cat’s Meow White Cheddar,” with grits, Andouille sausage, bourbon shrimp, green onion, jambalaya sauce and crispy bell pepper; the “Crown Jewel,” with butter-poached lobster, shiitake mushrooms, mac 'n’ cheese, truffle oil and shavings and green onions; and “The Big Thumper,” with peppercorn kangaroo meat, sticky rice, spicy chili and barbecue jam, fried egg and crispy carrots. A burger and a chicken sandwich also are offered. Citrus juices are squeezed fresh each day, and taco toppings and dips such as guacamole and queso are made in-house daily.
A new menu addition, a duck quesadilla served with Asian slaw, will make its debut in Troy, Sarber said.
The new Troy restaurant will have something else no other Agave & Rye location currently has: a video-game arcade with more than a dozen vintage video games, all free to play for customers.
The new restaurant has installed Plexiglass between all booths in the Troy restaurant, and takes the temperatures of employees before every shift, Sarber said. Each of its restaurants has a “Sanitation Ninja” on duty whenever the restaurant is open, whose sole duty is wiping down exposed surfaces. Curbside pickup will be available, and to-go orders can be placed by phone or online at the company’s web site, www.agaveandrye.com. Catering will also be available.
The Agave & Rye co-founder said there are no immediate plans to add more Dayton-area locations, but she wouldn’t rule it out in the future.
“We didn’t think we would have more than one location in the greater Cincinnati market, and now we have three,” she said.
Agave & Rye will be filling a prominent location on the Troy Public Square that had been vacant for more than two and a half years, since La Piazza shut down in February 2018 after a 25-year run. Sarber said when scouting the Dayton market for a location after Agave & Rye’s Liberty Center restaurant opened, she and other members of her team were surprised the former La Piazza space was available.
“We’re excited and grateful,” Sarber said. “The community seemed to immediately embrace the brand. ... We promise to put community first, and we can’t wait to be a part of it.”