Imbibe owners plan new bar on 2nd floor

By Jamison Cocklin


Owners of Imbibe martini bar have announced a separate venture that will find a craft beer and high-end scotch and whisky bar opening on its second floor at 124 W. Federal St. downtown by late January.

The latest addition to the downtown bar scene will cater to professionals, graduate students and others looking for a dignified bar that will require a dress code, serve more than 100 beers and provide Youngstown’s palate with spirits that can’t be found in the city or its suburbs, said Jeffrey Kurz, who, along with Brad Schwartz, first opened Imbibe in 2005.

“Imbibe allowed us to conduct this sort of indirect market research,” Kurz said. “We found that more and more people want these kind of options, and even though Imbibe already serves about 60 varieties of beer, people don’t know that. This new bar will allow us to capture that market segment and give people another option for a nice evening.”

The new establishment has not yet been named, but it will operate as a separate business from the martini bar. There will be a separate entrance and entirely different prices.

Kurz said he plans to invest more than $200,000 in the 4,000-square-foot space. Early plans call for a small dance floor and an outsourced kitchen downstairs that will allow the bar to serve light food that complements the beverages.

Permits and drawings already have been approved by the city, and most of the demolition has been completed in the space.

Kurz estimates the new bar will employ about four full-time and 14 part-time employees. But he added that the number could grow if the bar does well in its first few weeks of operation.

The partnership also will gauge business at the new bar to test demand for a larger high-end dance club.

Kurz said the addition is a good thing for the downtown area, but he noted that it still needs to keep growing.

He pointed to those things that are missing such as a larger dance club, a sushi bar and even a French restaurant. Kurz also operates SKA Limited, a real-estate development company that owns the building where O’Donold’s Irish Pub opened last month.

“The thing about downtown that works for all of us is, when one new bar opens up, everyone’s business goes up,” Kurz said. “And it’s sustainable business, too, because people bar hop. We still need more variety, though, and that’s what we’re working on.”

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