“Cincinnati is the Queen City and every Queen needs a Crown!”
That’s the concept Hailey Nutter-Sitek, Anthony Sitek, and Mike Cassari (who make up the “Republic”) thought of when coming up with the name for their new downtown Cincinnati restaurant, Crown Republic, an American Gastropub located at the corner of Sycamore and 8th. (Side note: How genius and creative is that name?!). Now that Crown Republic had been opened for close to 2 months, Pursuit of Delights had the opportunity to sit down with the owners to discuss all things food and the history behind how the restaurant came about.
Let’s take a walk down memory lane to find out how this Republic formed:
Hailey, Anthony and Mike all went to culinary school at Johnson and Wales on the East Coast, which they attribute heavily to their success. While still undergrads, they started a catering company, focusing on events for the college. In the years to follow, they worked in different cities with renowned chefs. The dream of opening a restaurant continued to loom despite them being in different locations. Hailey and Anthony married while keeping close contact with Mike. Life brought the Sitek family to Cincinnati, where Hailey is originally from, (which we- the food lovers of Cincy- are so thankful for!!!) with Mike following once the opportunity to open Crown Republic came into fruition.
Fast forward to August 2018:
The restaurant is open and booming with a unique flare. In a city where new restaurants are opening left and right, it’s important to have something that makes you stand out. Crown Republic has plenty. To start, they are a 99% from scratch restaurant, which we don’t have many of in the city. The only items not made in house are the Cuban and hamburger buns and the ketchup! However, they are perfecting the process of making their own hamburger buns. We sampled one and say… they’re ready! Everything is locally sourced with most of their vendors purchasing from local farms. Each product provided is within 300 miles except for one draft coffee vendor based in Cleveland. To take it a step further, they even had the wood and decorative items locally made! They pride themselves on having a restaurant with a melting pot type of vibe, which is what America is right?!
Another awesome, unique factor is the walk-up window on the side of the building (opened from 7a-11a M-F). Although common in other cities, this is not something you
often see in Cincinnati. The pastry window has been opened since the start of the restaurant, but they will have a new hot donut concept soon, appropriately called “Cock-a-doodle Donuts”. You’ll have the opportunity to fill your freshly made donut with wild berry jam, Nutella, or salted caramel filling. Ummmm… YUMMM! You may see new items come in, but they are creatures of habit. The same specialty pastry items and sandwiches will continue to be offered every day!
A few additional bits of uniqueness for Crown Republic are their parking and organic growth. Most new locations opening in Cincinnati come with limited parking availability. You will not have this problem when you dine here, which is partly why they strategically chose this location (THANK YOU!). There is a parking garage and a large parking lot right by the restaurant that takes away the need to look for a meter or walk far just to eat.
As far as their organic growth, it’s hard to achieve success without a large marketing platform. For Crown Republic, the city was very supportive. They didn’t do a lot of advertising, did not pay for marketing, and didn’t want a large campaign. They wanted to control the 1st impression and create a genuine experience for their guests. Having a staff that is excited when they come in and share the same passion has made it easier for them to achieve this. Word travels fast, whether good or bad. Luckily, theirs has been on the positive side, which has consistently increased their traction
Now, can we pleaseeee talk about their food and drink??!
When asked what their top sellers and recommendations are for newcomers, they quickly raved about their hand made pastas and everything knots for dinner, Cuban sandwich, CRG burger and pastrami on rye (they make the rub and smoke it here; giving you a NYC “on the go” type of sandwich) for lunch, and momma’s cookie for dessert. From our perspective, we agree with these and would also add in the fried chicken gobbets, seared salmon, duck fat hummus and house made sausage, egg and cheese sandwich on a freshly made English muffins. Crown Republic focuses on value, affordability and an approachable menu. With them making everything from scratch down to the sauces, we could certainly feel the love and care with every bite!
Bar Manager, Aaron Hall has you covered at the bar as well. They essentially have an all-day happy hour featuring $20 bottles of wine and $3 tall boys. They take the time to craft their own cocktails and make their own infusions. In addition to making their own simple syrups and Bloody Mary mix, Aaron is also working on their own flavored liquor, like bacon bourbon! Who’s excited?!! We certainly are!!!
Kudos and much respect to Hailey, Anthony, Mike and Aaron for having such a well-oiled machine. The atmosphere makes you feel right at home. You literally can’t go wrong with anything you order so get out there and try something new! Maybe we’ll see you in the morning filling your Cock-a-doodle donuts, grabbing a pastry to go, or eating a quickly but carefully prepared meal inside! You will be just as impressed as we have been!
*Interior images provided by Matt Wronski*
*Food images all taken by Pursuit of Delights*