Cheesemakers seek liquor license for new downtown Lebanon location

A couple of Lebanon cheese-makers could have a full liquor license just in time for the opening of their creamery and wine bar in Lebanon’s proposed entertainment district.

Cecelia Garmendia and Ryan Tassef plan to open Lamp Post Cheese this fall on the north end of the area envisioned as an occasional entertainment district on East Mulberry Street in Lebanon.

“We make cheese from locally sourced milk from Swallow Hill Jersey Dairy in Bowersville,” Tassef said. “We know it as Farmer Todd’s.”

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The couple had been making the cheese in a small rented space in Sharonville and selling it at the the Lebanon Farmers Market and Findlay Market in Cincinnati and to other customers, including Oakley Wines in Cincinnati and Bouquet Restaurant and Wine Bar, across the Ohio River in Covington, Ky.

"Our goal is to provide the urban community with the end-to-end experience that surrounds cheese. Starting with locally sourced milk from farms, to crafting small artisanal batches. We are bringing this process into the urban community to provide both visual and hands-on opportunities," Tassef and Garmendia tell visitors to their web site.

“In addition, we seek to work with the local food community, to help organize tastings, pairings, events and novel collaborations that allow us to enjoy and learn about cheese and other local foods together. Ultimately, we strive to maintain olde world traditions in cheese crafting.”

In September, the couple plans to open at 107 E. Mulberry St. in Lebanon, down the street from the main stage area for city festivals and within the proposed entertainment district.

“We will now be able to serve all the cheese enthusiasts from Dayton to Cincinnati,” they advised visitors to the web site.

Meanwhile, they are working with contractors to build an aging room, bar, tasting and cheesemaking areas. The cheesemaking is to be happen next to a window on Mulberry.

“Right in the window, right here,” Tassef said, standing in the unfinished 2,450-square-foot space leased for five years from Keith Alexander, the local property owner whose family has developed a string of businesses on Main Street.

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Last week, Lindsey Leberth from the Ohio Department of Liquor Control said the Lamp Post application was for a D5 license for liquor sales on-premises only and beer, wine and mixed beverages on or off-premises until 2:30 a.m.

“It has completed the first inspection,” Leberth said in an email. “General issuance is normally within 10 to 12 weeks from the application date.”

Tassef said they didn’t really plan to operate a full bar, but found these licenses more readily available than lesser ones.

Lamp Post had one of two pending D5s in Lebanon. Reids Sports Bar and Grill, 549 E. Main St., is the other, Leberth said. Two are available, she added.

Meanwhile demand for Lamp Post Cheese seems to be building.

“We’re out of stock at this point,” Tassef said.

MORE: Lebanon seeks $400,000 in state funds for entertainment district

Rejected for a state capital funding request, the city plans to use $400,000 in state racetrack redevelopment funds to set up the area on East Mulberry Street to be designated for open-container drinking during special events.

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Last month, Lebanon City Manager Scott Brunka said the city was working with the state to use the last of the city’s racetrack redevelopment funds to pay for entertainment district development.

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“This project will include the construction of brick street pavers, the installation of a removable bollard system to safely close down the street during events, area signage and other amenities. The proposed plan calls for East Mulberry Street to remain a functional roadway, with only temporary closures for the events,” Brunka said in an email.

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