Food, Funk and a Tribute to a King

It’s time to bring the Funk — and the sushi.

Confirming a news item that appeared in CityBeat’s “Best Of Cincinnati” issue last week, conceptual drawings were released this morning, showing a new downtown restaurant and music club planned on Walnut Street by Funk music legend Bootsy Collins and restaurateur Jeff Ruby.

The multimillion-dollar venue, to be named Bootsy Ruby, will go in the prominent spot once occupied by Uno’s Pizzeria, across from the Aronoff Center for the Arts. It will be extensively remodeled and offer gourmet hamburgers and fresh sushi and likely will feature live musical acts every night.

The first-floor space that once contained Uno’s bar area will become a museum-like space that honors Cincinnati’s musical history, particularly the now-defunct King Records label that helped launch the career of James Brown and Herzog Studios, where Hank Williams recorded some early songs.

Cincinnati City Councilman John Cranley has been involved with the club’s planning and held a press briefing this morning to announce that council will support changes to the city’s building code that are needed for some of the remodeling planned by Collins and Ruby. Specifically, the pair want to extend the second-floor outdoor dining balcony over the sidewalk below and install a glass elevator feature on the building’s exterior.

Also, preliminary designs show a large, neon sign version outdoors of Bootsy’s classic striped top hat, marking the club’s entrance.

“It’s a very exciting concept,” Cranley said. “I think it would be a destination spot for tourists and Cincinnatians, as well.”

Although a specific cost and opening date weren’t revealed, Cranley said the pair hope to have the club opened within the year and that they wouldn’t seek any city subsidies for the project.

With a planned expansion of the nearby McFadden’s restaurant and new shops and eateries opening around the redesigned Fountain Square, Cranley said it’s an exciting time for downtown nightlife.

“This isn’t a chain (restaurant), this is two people with connections to our city,” he said. “You have the beginnings of a real strength here and, frankly, I think it’s better when it happens organically from people who have proven themselves.”

Collins and Ruby are negotiating a lease with the building’s owners and are expected to announce more details soon.

— Kevin Osborne

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10 Comments on “Food, Funk and a Tribute to a King”

  1. Marilyn Says:

    Well this will be interesting to watch. Shows some promise.

    I hope this doesn’t turn into something outrageously expensive, you know $12 hamburgers and such.

  2. Every Cincinnatian Says:

    It sounds to us like a King Records-themed Hard Rock Cafe. We like the idea of celebrating our City’s historical events and characters. Good luck Mr. Ruby and Mr. Collins you have our support.

    In a commercial restaurant and entertainment enterprise such as this we do wonder, though, how much usable information about our rich musical heritage will be provided to us and the citizens of the world and in what context will it be provided. This is especially poignant when we consider the need to educate ourselves and future generations about the major cultural and societal impacts attributable to Cincinnati music and understand how these events have shaped the world in which we live. It was no exaggeration when Garrison Keillor said while recording “A Prairie Home Companion” at Musical Hall on November 25, 2006, “Cincinnati could very well have been the sight of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame….”

    Will this new restaurant relieve us of the burden to properly address and fix this glaring hole in the story of our City and ourselves? Or will it make the burden greater? We would like our City leaders to tell us.

  3. Sydster Says:

    Good luck to them, but Marilyn’s probably right. This is the place for the well heeled to eat before and after the theater. I THINK THAT’S GREAT, I just can’t imagine that the King Records piece will be much of an educational forum.

  4. Marilyn Says:

    PS. I’m an enormous fan of Hank, Sr. and I hate to admit that I honestly didn’t know he had early roots in Cincy! I need to do some research!

  5. citybeat Says:

    The Wynonie and Cheese Platter? Syd Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Surprise? The Good Rockin’ Tonight Burger? A Hot James Brown sandwich? Lightly buttered Sea Ralph Bass? The dish posibilities are endless!

  6. Marilyn Says:

    Hank’s “Yer Cheating Mouth” — a high fat, high calorie Bleu Cheese Burger?

  7. CityBeat Says:

    Marilyn, Hank actually recorded his first million selling single, “Lovesick Blues”, at Herzog Studios, 811 Race Street, which is currently the home of CityBeat.

  8. Marilyn Says:

    Very cool… I love learning new things so thanks for the education!

  9. Annie's Baby Had A Baby Says:

    I can’t imagine Sydster not imagining this…

    Part three to Annisteen Allen being done by The 5 Royals.

  10. Annie's Baby Had A Baby Says:

    I can’t imagine Syd not imagining the possibilities here.

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