Wednesday, September 20, 2000
Days dwindle for Barleycorn's on river
By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer
NEWPORT Barleycorn's bar and restaurant, which helped start the Riverboat Row development on the Newport riverfront 15 years ago, slips into history at the end of the month when owner Ken Heil locks the doors for the last time.
But a new tenant for the prop erty may be just over the flood wall at the Newport Aquarium and Newport on the Levee.
Mr. Heil agreed to close the floating restaurant for good as of Sept. 30, and to move the boat from the mooring by the end of the year as part of a settlement of a suit by the city over claims of nonpayment of lease money to Newport for the boat's slip.
I still don't know what we'll do with the boat, said Mr. Heil, a Newport native. We may sell it or lease it. There's even a slim possibility we might want to move it to another city on the river and open again.
While Mr. Heil, who operates four other Barleycorn's sites, is setting the stage for the riverfront Barleycorn's finale, officials of Steiner & Associates, developer of the Newport on the Levee entertainment complex and the aquarium, are talking to city officials about assuming the lease.
Steiner vice president Barry Rosenberg, who is also president and part owner of the aquarium, says his group is very interested in the property, just below the flood wall from the aquarium.
City Manager Phil Ciafardini said initial discussions dealt primarily with Steiner using the Barleycorn's parking lot.
Beyond that, they haven't said anything about possible uses of the mooring spot where the Barleycorn's boat now sits, he said.
Mr. Rosenberg also said there were no immediate plans for using the mooring, if the developer decided to take over the lease. But he said it would most likely be connected in some way to the aquarium.
Mr. Heil originally bought the boat, formerly operated by Helen Enzweiler as the Newport Yacht Club for about 12 years, in 1984.
Built in 1935 and named the Neville, the boat served under several companies pushing barges on the Ohio River before it sank in the Mississippi River. It was raised in 1972 and brought north to become the Newport Yacht Club. A barge was added to the boat to expand the dining and drinking complex.
Mr. Ciafardini said the Barleycorn's site lease does not permit construction of a land-based operation, and he thinks the floating restaurants are not as popular with restaurateurs as they once were.
There is so much more liability, and many more problems associated with a floating restaurant because you can't predict what the river is going to do, he said. We have not had a single nibble from anyone wanting to move a new floating facility to that spot.
When Barleycorn's departs, Riverboat Row will still have three floating restaurants, as well as two newer eateries built above the river, all with great views of downtown Cincinnati, including:
The Bernstein family's Sloppy Joe's/Howl at the Moon Saloon boat. The Bernsteins also own the Mike Fink floating restaurant in Covington and the BB Riverboats company.
Hooters and Remington's, side-by-side floating restaurants.
Don Pablo's and the Chart House, both built on piers well above the river at the east end of Riverboat Row.
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