Cumin to Offer More Casual Fare in Spot Next Door
Tom Demeropolis, Cincinnati Business Courier, © 2012 American City Business Journals, Inc. All rights reserved.
The owner of one of Cincinnati’s top restaurants is opening a sister restaurant next door. Alex Mchaikhi, owner of high-end Cumin Eclectic Cuisine in Hyde Park, is cooking up a concept called M, short for “my favorite.” Unlike Cumin, M will be more of a neighborhood restaurant and bar, with a twist. “There’s a market for it, especially in Hyde Park,” Mchaikhi said. “The high end is for special occasions. You have to have people come in all the time.”
Cumin has been consistently ranked as one of Cincinnati’s top 10 restaurants by Cincinnati Magazine and is among the top 10 in the city, according to ratings guide Zagat.
M, with seating for 110, is scheduled to open this summer on Erie Avenue. It will fill two spaces formerly occupied by Snooty Fox and Amarin Fusion restaurant.
The menu at M comes from Owen Maass, executive chef at Cumin. Similar to Cumin, it will focus on local, seasonal ingredients, Maass said. He plans to offer wood-fired pizzas, rotisserie chicken, salads, craft beers and cocktails. Prices at M will be between $12 and $14 for an entree, compared with Cumin’s range of $20 to $40. Mchaikhi is financing the restaurant himself.
One dessert option Maass is planning is “cereal milk ice cream,” which will be house-made ice cream flavored by milk that has soaked up the flavors of different cereals.
“That’s the best part of the cereal,” Maass said.
While Mchaikhi is prepping the new restaurant, many independent restaurant owners have been closing their doors. Total restaurant visits declined from 62.7 billion in 2008 to 60.6 billion in 2011 and independent restaurants accounted for 87 percent of that decline, according to the NPD Group, a New York-based market research company.
Fine dining has been hit especially hard, said Darren Tristano, executive vice president with Chicago-based research firm Technomic Inc. Independent owners have either opened new concepts or switched to a more casual dining menu and experience, Tristano said. “Having that option allows an operator to garner more traffic,” he said.