GREENVILLE – The anticipation has been palpable downtown as the locals watched the progress of Greenville’s newest dining venue from behind papered windows. At long last, the paper is down and dinner is being served.
The Merchant House, New American restaurant, is offering dinner service this week, and full regular service for lunch and dinner will begin April 12. Regular hours will be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. for the restaurant area, and the bar will remain open with a limited menu and regular bar service with a flexible closing time within legal bounds.
“As long as there are a couple of people in there eating and having a few drinks, we’ll have it open,” said co-owner Chris Campbell Wednesday. “We’ll keep it flexible.”
The restaurant will have a grand opening and ribbon-cutting with the Darke County Chamber of Commerce April 18. “We’ll shut down for that, and then starting the next day it will be full steam ahead,” Campbell said.
The first night of dinner service was a success for staff and patrons.
“It was good,” Campbell said. “It was busy for the first hour or so, with everyone who wanted to be first, then it slowed down a little and we brought our team members together and told them to call their families and friends, and we got busy again.”
Popular menu items so far have proven to be the Monte Cristo sandwiches, pizzas (of course) and steaks, as well as the signature mac ‘n’ cheese, and cowboy beans.
Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive already, with early diners heaping on the praise and potential customers clamoring for a menu and a reservation.
The Merchant House offers a variety of food that’s not available anywhere else in town.
“We aren’t trying to compete with the other places in town,” Campbell said. “We’re trying to help keep people in Greenville. We’re trying to stop that exodus to Dayton. It’s better for everyone that way.”
The renovation of the space has truly embraced the history of the building and downtown. The floors were stripped to the original wood planks, the walls to the brick, the ceilings restored, the Corinthian columns uncovered and highlighted. A wall is covered with historical images of the building from the early 1900s.
“We love the history,” Campbell said. “And that’s what I love, to see people come in and love the history.”
Campbell said the wheels are still turning as far as plans for the restaurant go. There are theme nights and a variety of entertainment coming. The first comedy night will be April 30. Various musical acts are planned as well, from acoustic to jazz to duelling banjos. “We want to have fun with it,” Campbell said.
Theme nights, movie nights – all kinds of ideas are still on the table.
“I’d really love to have a Game of Thrones night, with a themed menu,” Campbell said.
The menu will not be static thing either, with the restaurateurs making note of community favorites, and changing things around, both by taste and by season.
“We’ll change it up,” Campbell said. “There will be some Merchant House staples. We’ll have some seasonal items. We’ll have some healthy items, smaller portions available at certain times, that sort of thing.”
The menu items offered already are inspired from Campbell’s travels, including a Cajun grilled salmon, Detroit-style pizzas, chicken and waffles (but with northern fried chicken and mac ‘n’ cheese stuffed waffles), cowboy beans slow smoked for five hours, candied bacon, lots of things with bacon.
“We love bacon here,” Campbell said. ‘Nuff said.
The space is still changing, too.
“We’re not done yet,” Campbell said. “We still have spaces to fill. We want some cool things to highlight the history and compliment the architecture.”
In the mean time, dinner is served.