For Lucas, the choice to consult local options to produce Bar 145’s collection of dishes represents more than just a preference for local terroir. “Through our collaborations with local businesses, we hope to create a culinary community,” says Lucas. “Beyond doing business, we want to establish relationships with the people who are making the food that Bar 145 serves on a daily basis.” Bar 145’s menu changes seasonally, Lucas adds, and as a consequence he encourages input from vendors on what should be featured on the menu.
The extent to which Bar 145 makes use of local businesses is wide-ranging. Bread is purchased from Strahn’s Bakery, out of Toledo, a partnership which has necessitated the bakery’s expansion to meet the demands. In Huron, The Chef’s Garden, which supplies restaurants around the country including Grant Achatz’s Alinea, named #1 Restaurant by Gourmet Magazine and is located five miles from Bar 145’s Norwalk location, provides fresh supplies to Bar 145 as well. Turkey Foot Creek Creamery in Wauseon, located just twenty miles from Bar 145’s Norwalk location, provides goat cheese. Many bourbon and craft beer options are likewise sourced locally, including OYO Bourbon and Watershed Bourbon which are both made in Columbus, and beers from Thirsty Dog Brewing Company in Akron, Zanzibar Brewing Company located just two doors down from Bar 145’s Columbus location and Great Lakes Brewery in Cleveland.
For Lucas, knowing as much as he can about the food customers consume is every bit as important for the chef as it is the customer. “Using our goat cheese from Turkey Foot Creek Creamery as an example, we not only know where the cheese comes from, but also what the goat that makes the cheese ate as well,” says Lucas. “Knowing that isn’t just a neat bit of trivia, but a crucial part of healthy, sustainable food preparation.”
Bar 145 first opened in Toledo, Ohio in May 2011 as a result of the inspiration of 30-year-old Jeremy Fitzgerald, whose family has a successful history in the hospitality industry. Specializing in “Burgers, Bands, and Bourbon,” Bar 145 is a one-stop destination for great food, creative cocktails and live entertainment. With an emphasis on fresh and local ingredients, Bar 145 specializes in gourmet burgers and small plates. A selection of over 45 premium bourbons and inventive bourbon cocktails serve as the perfect pairing to their award-winning menu. In addition, Bar 145 offers an extensive draft and craft beer selection that features locally-brewed beer. Bar 145 launched a franchise program in July 2012. Since that period locations have opened in Kent, Ohio, Columbus, Ohio, Norwalk, Ohio, and Avon, Ohio. Future signed deals are in play for Ft. Wayne, Indiana as well as plans for further expansion.