Bar 145 opens in downtown Kent

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From the outside, Bar 145 fits right into downtown Kent on a Thursday night. The music is booming, students are flocking to its entrance and a bouncer waits at the door to check IDs.

Upon entering, however, the atmosphere looks a bit more sophisticated. Well-dressed customers mingle with staff members wearing black T-shirts, jeans and red Chuck Taylors. This culture clash is something Bar 145 wants customers to notice.

Bar 145, Kent’s newest restaurant, located in the AMETEK building on Erie Street, prides itself on its status as a “gastropub,” or a bar that gives special attention to the high-quality food it serves.

Bar 145 opened its bar to customers at 10 p.m. Thursday, and it will open at the same time Friday and Saturday. Owner Jeremy Fitzgerald said the kitchen will open Sunday, and customers can begin enjoying gourmet food from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

While each bar in downtown Kent has a distinct vibe or reputation, Bar 145 aims to bring a more upscale, city atmosphere to the college town. The gastropub’s motto, “Red Chucks, White China,” emphasizes its clash of a casual bar experience with upscale dining.

“I feel like we’re really going to fill a niche that’s not here,” Fitzgerald said. “There’s a lot of really great bars here. There’s a lot of great restaurants. But the fact that we’re a bar and a restaurant in one, the fact that we have the live entertainment, is what makes us unique and sets us apart.”

With items like organic Gouda, bone marrow, tempura-coated green beans and salmon flatbreads on the menu, customers can enjoy fine dining and drinks in a more laid-back, casual environment. Prices are fair for college students’ budgets, ranging from $5 to $9 for lunch, and $8 to $12 for dinner plates.

As Bar 145 approaches its official opening, other businesses downtown have emerged in the last month.

Carnaby Street Style, a London-inspired fashion boutique, opened Jan. 8 at 100 E. Erie St. Its grand opening party will be Friday from 6 to 10 p.m. It will be open Monday through Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

Ramella’s Pizzeria opened at the former location of Le Dion’s Pizza on 114 W. Erie St. Its hours are Monday through Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m., Thursday through Saturday from noon to 3 a.m. and Sunday from noon to 10 p.m. It offers delivery services and dine-in options at Mugs.

“It’s bar food to the next level,” Fitzgerald said. “Our specialty is burgers, but we’re not just another burger joint. Even our burgers are gourmet. … We’re very serious about our food.”

Though the eclectic menu may draw in customers during the day, the bar aims to attract a livelier crowd with its drink selection, live music and karaoke at night.

Fitzgerald opened the first Bar 145 location in Toledo in 2011 with the goal of building a franchise. He said he chose Kent as a second location because of the growing developments downtown and his ability to do exactly what he wanted with the space, including putting an indoor/outdoor patio in the restaurant.

“I love what’s going on right here. I looked at spots in Cleveland [and] Cincinnati … I looked at probably 15 different locations in Ohio and Michigan, and [Kent] was my favorite,” Fitzgerald said. “I feel like it was a no brainer. I feel like we’re what Kent needed, and Kent is what I needed.”

Dave Ruller, Kent’s city manager, said he’s hopeful Bar 145 would be a nice alternative for students and the Kent community.

“We were delighted when we heard it’s not the same old, same old,” Ruller said. “It has the live music that we love. Music is well-rooted in Kent, and this was the place to see bands years and years ago.”

Ruller said although Bar 145 is in a location where parking is currently limited, the city has been responsive, and the owners of upcoming businesses downtown are aware of the issue. He said the new parking deck – which will hold 300 parking spaces – will open in March, so those traveling to Bar 145 before then may have to search around for a parking spot in the meantime.

“It used to be you could park anywhere in Kent. Right now, parking is tight,” Ruller said. “But it’s a good problem to have. It means it’s a popular spot; it’s a sign of success. If they have a product that’s good enough, it will be worth it.”

Mike Beder, owner of Water Street Tavern, said he doesn’t worry about the potential competition with Bar 145 because it will further solidify Kent as an entertainment district people will want to visit.

“Even the idea of competition makes [each bar] look internally at what they could be doing better and keeps the ones that care on their toes,” Beder said. “Ultimately that means a better experience for the customers. We’re excited to have them.”

Christine Carlson, junior applied mathematics major, visited the bar Thursday and said she enjoyed the casual atmosphere.

“It’s nicely set up,” Carlson said. “It’s fancy without being too fancy. It’s got a more calm feel to it.”

Bar 145 will offer 25 different kinds of bourbon, craft and domestic beer, wine and specialty cocktails. Though the bar will be open this weekend, and the kitchen will officially open Sunday, Fitzgerald said he will have a special grand opening event at a later date.

“I want to try to bring in some higher acts and some special guests,” Fitzgerald said. “I have a few things up my sleeve.”

Contact Brittany Nader at [email protected].