Bar 145 on Monroe St., sports a slogan that covers the essentials: “Burgers, Bands, Bourbon.” Bands have returned in a limited way post-shutdown, but the burgers and bourbon are still front and center. Bar 145 features a welcoming atmosphere while seriously considering customer safety in the era of COVID-19. The result is an engaging dining experience at a reasonable price point.
“What we try to do is bring a restaurant-style atmosphere with gastrofare, and transition into nightlife with bands,” explains owner Brandon Saba. “And we feature over 50-plus bourbons on the menu at any given time.”
Leading the gastropub scene
Bar 145 opened in May 2011 by owners Jeremy Fitzgerald and George Simon. The restaurant was on the leading edge of the gastropub scene in the Toledo area. After years of helping brand and operate Bar 145, then-General Manager Saba became the team’s newest Owner-Operator.
The restaurant expanded to a second location in Miamisburg, and now both locations offer Reset, a retro arcade experience, connected to Bar 145. A third, solo Reset is also open in Rossford.
“We had Ohio’s first beer tap wall at the time,” Saba said of Reset. “We just recently rebranded to Reset Pins, (with) the area’s first duckpin bowling lanes that are available.”
Comfort and safety
After a couple of months off due to COVID-19, Saba and the new Executive Chef Marcus Hartford teamed up and decided it was time to get back to the basics of what made Bar 145 what it is today.
The Monroe St. restaurant provides comfort in this unsettling time with an atmosphere of a friendly gastropub— dark, soothing decor, a dozen large TVs, and a cover of rock music. Each table displays a label proclaiming that it was recently sanitized.
“Any recommendations that have been made, including wearing mask and separating bar seats, were definitely hurdles that we had to overcome in order to stay open,” Saba said. “But being open and being able to serve the community, and being able to continue doing what we have done the past ten years was important to us.”
We ordered the pretzel bites ($7.99), which were served with a side of queso dip. The bites were fresh, with the balance of a crisp exterior surrounding warm chewy dough. The queso dip made each bite a delight, with a spicy kick.
The stack-your-own-burger ($9), where customers have the chance to build their own masterpiece, allowed us to order a medium-well patty with cheddar cheese on a pretzel bun, with added bacon ($1 because why not?). Along with a side of maple-bacon-mac ($4.99 to accompany the stack-your-own burger), macaroni and cheese accompanied by the Bar’s popular maple bacon. The dish, a little sweeter than expected, has a pronounced maple flavor with cheese that was not as sharp as it might have been. But, the side was still good enough to scrape the bottom of the bowl with our spoon.
Saba noted how the chef-driven and chef-inspired kitchen featured locally sourced foods that carried the love and the passion for the service industry in every bite.
“It’s always been a chef-driven menu,” Saba said. “Being that we were the first gastropub, I think a lot of it came from locally-sourced foods. We do have a new head chef since we reopened after the (virus shutdown), and he puts his own spin on it.”
Reset, the neighboring video arcade, was sparsely populated when we were there, and the majority of the space is now filled with a duckpin bowling setup. They encourage advance reservations for the game, to allow for sanitizing before players arrive. Reset in Rossford is also outfitted with duckpin lanes, as well as golf simulators.
“We’re basically two great bars under one roof. It’s the one-stop-shop for all your entertainment and food and beverage needs,” Saba said. “We have everything from bourbon to the martini list to wine to chicken fingers, all the way to bison burgers. We have a little bit of everything, for everyone.”
4pm-1am, Monday-Friday. 11:30am-2am, Saturday. 11:30am-1am, Sunday. 5305 Monroe St., Toledo. 419-593-0073. bar-145.com