Three businesses are moving from Victorian Square in the next 30 days to make room for Saul Good Restaurant & Pub's new downtown location. The move, which clears the way for Saul Good to open in October, is the largest change since Victorian Square was purchased in August by The Webb Companies and Jeffrey R. Anderson Real Estate of Cincinnati.
Shortly after the announcement of the sale, Dudley Webb, chairman of The Webb Companies, said the new owners hoped to "reinvent" the block of restored 19th century buildings with an eclectic mix of tenants, turning it into a downtown dining and entertainment destination.
This is the first step in creating a more dynamic environment at Victornia Square, Webb said on Monday. No other tenant changes are ready to be announced, he said, adding that new businesses will be announced as they are confirmed.
Jeff Miller, owner of Howard & Miller men's clothing store, said the owners of Victorian Square approached him the first of March to discuss a move.
"They offered me another space on the second floor, but I wasn't comfortable with that. There is not one retailer left upstairs," he said.
Howard & Miller opened in Victorian Square in 1986 and is one of the few remaining original tenants. The store will move to 400 Old Vine Street the latter part of May. The Chase Tap Room and Heels are the other businesses moving out of Victorian Square, which has about 226,000 square feet of space. The Chase Tap Room will close May 25 and re-open July 4 at the corner of West Third and Jefferson streets. Heels shoe store, which closed about six weeks ago, moved part of its merchandise into Runway Couture located next door. Heels and Runway Couture have the same owners. The rest of the shoes went to a store in West Virginia.
It was not clear whether Heels is going to re-open in Victorian Square or another location. The owners could not be reached for comment.
All three stores that are closing are on the Broadway side of Victorian Square.
"We're sensitive about moving anybody," Webb said on Monday about the three businesses that are moving out. "We're trying to accommodate everybody."
Officials with the Explorium children's museum — which has been in Victorian Square for more than 20 years — recently announced they had reached an agreement with the new owners to stay.
Miller said he was excited about his new location, but at the same time, "It is hard to wrap my mind around moving from here." His father Cliff Miller, former manager of Graves-Cox locations on Main Street, Turfland Mall and finally in Fayette Mall, and Harold Howard, Graves-Cox tailor, opened their new store Howard & Miller on Burt Road in 1984. They were offered space in Victorian Square and opened there.
Even though the business is leaving Victorian Square, Howard & Miller will remain downtown. That was an important consideration in finding a another location for Miller because many of his customers work downtown.
"My business is not a past time for me. I've got to make a living at this," Miller said. "I have to put two kids through college and food on the table. So closing was not an option."
Miller's new shop will be slightly larger than the current one, with additional room for Miller's office and the tailor shop. There will be parking in front of the building.
Owners of the Chase Tap Room are taking the opportunity of moving to expand their business, said Robert Garrison, one of the owners. The new Chase Tap Room will have a small kitchen where simple bar food can be prepared, and an adjoining building will become the Chase Brewing Co. micro-brewery.
"We're going to focus on brewing wheat ales for the summer, porters and stouts for the winter, at least as we get started," Garrison said. His partners in the Chase tap room and brew business are Chris Heflin and Tony Mancuso. The micro-brewery recently received the necessary approval from the Board of Adjustment to brew and can beer on site.
The Chase partners are opening their new business on Independence Day as a symbol of leaving their old corporate jobs and becoming independent business owners, as well as supporting the independent micro-brewing movement, Garrison said.
Garrison said he was a long-time friend of Saul Good's owner: "I wish him all the best."
"In the long run, we think this will be a good move for us, even though we loved being in Victorian Square," Garrison said.