Good Company: The Story of the Shakespeare Bar

Cincinnati Shakespeare Bar

To Project Types

Cincinnati, Ohio | 24,640 SF

Know-how, patience, and close collaborations combine to produce a special moment between scenes at Cincinnati’s Shakespeare Company’s Otto M. Budig Theater.
Small-scale mock-up of the bar. Using mock-ups enables us to collaborate with millworkers to improve the look and assembly of the bar.

Unlike other bars, where patrons are served throughout the night, in a theatrical setting, the bar serves everyone within a couple brief windows of time: 30-60 minutes of pre-show drinks and the rush of people at intermission. With three optimal serving positions (each within reach of all the necessary supplies), Cincinnati Shakespeare’s bar accommodates lines on every side so drinks can keep flowing. But it’s the material quality of the bar that really makes it stand out. Reclaimed barn wood, which echoes the pattern of the board-formed concrete walls of the theater, brings a softness and warmth to the building’s interior, making it a fitting center of pre-performance activity.

Four stations serving 250 drinks in 15 minutes.
Take in the views of neighboring Washington Park while getting your drinks pre-show.

Working closely with the millworkers, we created mock-ups to convey our intention of continuing the rough, weathered barn look on the face of the bar before transitioning to a smooth countertop.

This also allowed us to seize upon a happy accident when we discovered how visually compelling it was when the same piece of wood that formed the vertical base of the bar turned the corner to form the countertop. The time required to tend to these kinds of details could have had a substantial cost impact, but we worked with the millworkers to streamline their process and reduce labor costs. At the same time, the mock-ups proved a valuable fundraising tool, as we adapted them to help the theater’s artistic director entice a sponsor for this piece of the project.

Quote on bar that reads, Working with Riverside Architectural Millwork, we integrated features of the theater’s signage into the bar with matching, inlaid stainless steel text spelling out the spirit of the space.
Photograph of the finished bar. A tongue that juts out to one side provides a spot to line up pre-orders as intermission approaches.

AIA Cincinnati Architecture Honor Award

AIA Ohio Design Honor Award