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Bakersfield Restaurant Expanding from Over-the-Rhine to the Short North

Ayana Wilson Ayana Wilson Bakersfield Restaurant Expanding from Over-the-Rhine to the Short North
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When Joe and John Lanni opened the first Bakersfield Restaurant in Cincinnati in Over-the-Rhine, it was with the intention of being a completely unique concept that featured cuisine prepared for and named after the “Bakersfield Sound”: firmly country with a rock n’ roll influence. Buck Owens and Johnny Cash, among others, defined this type of music, and their legacy and lifestyle inspired the eatery known for tacos, tequila, and bourbon.

In early fall of this year, the Lanni brothers will open only their third installation of the restaurant in the Short North at 731 North High Street, the former site of China Bar Restaurant. The 3,500 square-feet space will seat about 90-100 guests, and include a sidewalk patio for Short North gazing and more.

“The Short North was one of our first choices for this,” Joe Lanni discloses. “We wanted a neighborhood with a strong identity and diverse population, because that’s the kind of crowd we resonate with. We have only two other Bakersfields in Cincinnati and Indianapolis, and the Short North has a similar feel.”

If you’re familiar with the layout of what has also been Black Olive in the past, then you know that the bar currently separates the space’s two large dining rooms. Bakersfield will be joining those rooms together and enlarging the bar to create an awesome and eclectic atmosphere.

Bakersfield’s menu is a fairly succinct offering of a couple salads, tortas, and roughly eight different tacos including a Short Rib with pickled onions, a Fish with a tabasco lime sauce, and the vegetarian Rajas with poblano and chihuahua cheese. They also carry a hillbilly-friendly selection of beers, and margaritas are available by both the jar and pitcher.

More importantly however, the menus are Short North-friendly, which means that if you want to spend less than $10 for a complete meal, you can, and if you want to sip on $60 pours of chilled tequila, you’re also right at home to do so.

“We want to be able to tailor the customer’s experience to whatever they want it to be,” shares Lanni. “We’re just so jazzed to find a good location, with good neighbors, we’re really lucky, and we’re looking forward to building something special.”

For more as Bakersfield’s opening day approaches, visit www.bakersfieldotr.com.

For more information on Joe and John Lanni’s Currito restaurant concept that is also expanding to Columbus, CLICK HERE.

Photo via Bakersfield.

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  • mbeaumont

    Huge upgrade. Looking forward to the opening!

  • Agreed, Mike! A welcome addition and much better use of that space.

  • Realist

    Happy to have them in Cbus, but I think Paul Kahan and his team at Big Star would be offended to see Bakersfield calling itself “completely unique.”

  • Lauren Wilson

    As a huge fan of Big Star, it is obvious that Bakersfield lifted their entire concept from them. However, that said, I can get to the SN and Cincy much more frequently than to Chicago. And the food is great. So I can’t complain. :)

    But yeah…the one in OTR even has the same caddys on the tables and even the exact same kind of board with the snap on letters where they list the daily whiskey specials. :)

  • Lauren Wilson

    This is even right on Big Star’s website.
    “The Story

    Between 1935 and roughly 1942, tens of thousands of working-class people from Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Missouri descended on the west coast – particularly Los Angeles and the California Central Valley. The Depression-era migration was also connected to the devastating 1935-1938 dust storms of the southern plains but the majority of the exodus was economically based.

    Whatever the motives for going out West, these migrants were responsible for developing the “Bakersfield Sound.” Bakersfield’s two greatest musicians, Merle Haggard & Buck Owens, helped define this “sound” – the unique twang of the fender telecaster guitar, vocal harmonies & a rough edge not heard on the more polished Nashville recordings of the same era.

    The honky-tonks of Bakersfield and Kern County included places like the Ethyl’s Corral, the Pioneer Club, the Rhythm Rancho and the Texhoma Club which made their rural Southern association in name and with “rude décor.” These clubs were often rough and embraced drink, violence and rebellion. This was a society of extremes: sobriety & drunkenness, piety & hell raising, wild Saturday nights followed by Sunday religious revivals.

    Bakersfield, in the late 30′s and early 40′s, was one of those rare unions of people, place & time, talent and opportunity and purpose that symbolized a city transformed by music. In this spirit, we have created Big Star.”

  • mbeaumont

    I love Big Star too. Hopefully it’ll be easier to actually dine at Bakersfield. I havent’ been to Chicago in a year or so, maybe Big Star has slowed down, but their first few years were just always packed.

    I always ended up at the takeout window.

    Oh and, holy shit did they ripoff Big Star, haha. Wow.

  • Lauren Wilson

    I haven’t had problems getting into Bakersfield in OTR, but I was usually there at odd times.

  • romanh

    Glad to see a new owner in that space.

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