When the public tells you what they want in your town… you should listen.
Over the years we’ve learned a thing or two about what the market will bear in small towns, and those lessons were learned because we consistently ask them. At Small Nation, we use our social media channels as a tool for two-way conversations. When a building becomes available for redevelopment, we’ll take to the cybersphere and ask the public one of the most important questions in our revitalization toolbox: “What does this town need?”
Small towns are full of great ideas, and if you listen closely enough to what they tell you, you’ll be able to not only identify market gaps, but gain ideas for their solutions. This is how Adam, Jeramy and Brian knew: Bellefontaine needed a large event venue.
Small towns are hungry for more places to gather, both large and small. They crave the kind of unique places that are typically only found in larger cities, but with the familiarity of home. So that’s exactly what we created with The Syndicate.
THE PAST CONNECTS WITH THE FUTURE
Once upon a time (before social media), the events of the day in small towns could only be learned through newspapers. A community’s movements, thoughts, growth and events were captured and encapsulated through one very powerful medium: The press.
In Bellefontaine, Jackson’s News Stand was the place to get the daily news. For more than 40 years, people gathered here to grab their daily paper, a magazine and maybe a snack. This was the place to see your neighbors. This place brought people together in conversation. And it stood right next door to Brewfontaine.
Today, The Syndicate is that place to gather. Rather than just expanding Brewfontaine’s foot print, the team decided to create a space that paid homage to the location’s history. Named in honor of the news stand, The Syndicate offers 5,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor dining and event space for the Bellefontaine residents who asked for just that. Here, they’ll be able to celebrate wedding receptions,
enjoy date night with an upscale dinner, catch a band on the patio and even enjoy a mimosa brunch.
Today, this spot has connected the past with the future. It’s still a space where local events are shared… but now it’s in real time.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT
The Syndicate opened its doors in August 2020 after two full years of careful planning. It was important to the team that The Syndicate did not only give a nod toward the town’s news stand history, but embraced it fully in the expression of the brand. Throughout the space, the news stand lives on through the furnishings and finishes.
In the entry foyer, a huge neon sign welcomes guests with a “FRONT PAGE” message. The interior bar was custom designed to resemble a New York style news stand, using glass transom windows that were salvaged from a local building. Bellefontaine newspapers from years gone by cover one wall and the restrooms even reinforce the message that this place is “EXTRA, EXTRA” special.
The space is expansive and unique, with 28 foot ceilings and garage doors that open toward the Main Street front patio and the beer garden on the back. Named “Off The Record,” this space will host ticketed live music concerts with local and national bands on the weekends and for special events. The venue will allow for interior and exterior celebrations for hundreds of guests with the flexibility to install a tent for even larger events in a secluded area outside. When there are no events or after hours when the kitchen is closed, there is room for area food trucks to pull up and serve late night patio gatherings.
AN ELEVATED EXPERIENCE
The Syndicate was designed to host large group events like wedding receptions, corporate parties and other celebrations, but when it is not booked for private events, the space converts into a fine-dining restaurant serving guests elevated dinner selections and weekend brunch.
It’s the perfect date night spot, combining a unique and relaxed ambiance with spectacular food and drink selections, many of which wouldn’t normally be found outside of a larger metropolitan area. Locals and visitors can enjoy perfectly prepared steaks with truffled mashed potatoes, fried buttermilk brined fried chicken and to-die-for pork chops side by side with Caribbean spiced Mahi-Mahi in
banana leaves or Grilled Gretna Cheese and vegetables for meat-free eaters.
Weekend brunch blends big-city selections like authentic Huevos Rancheros and Shrimp & Grits with comfortable favorites like Biscuits with Chorizo Gravy and Praline Pecan French Toast with Bourbon Maple Whipped Cream. Blueberry Bellinis, Mimosas and a wide array of brunch cocktails make the weekend experience complete.
The bar is well stocked too, with custom craft cocktails, forty whiskey choices, seventeen wines by the glass and two ports. The Syndicate is bringing choices to their small town that have never been available before. Why? Because small towns are hungry for unique choices. In the past, towns the size of Bellefontaine didn’t even consider introducing an elevated dining experience to their communities, working under the notion that it wouldn’t be supported. There’s a problem in this logic though. Small town residents eventually get bored with the same old
choices day after day, and decade after decade. When they’re hungry for something different, they’ll get in the car and drive to the closest city to spend their dollars on entertainment and food. Sometimes they’ll drive an hour or more. And the small town loses out on a very important part of local commerce.
It doesn’t have to be that way though. If there are choices within the borders of small towns, their residents won’t have to leave. If there is an amazing entertainment and dining experience available in a small town, it will become a destination for visitors from out of town. Hospitality venues with a strong, authentic brand are a win-win for community members and visitors alike, which is why they are well worth the investment.
The Syndicate building is owned by Small Town Properties, a division of Small Nation. Construction of the new space took 16 months from start to finish, and over $2M was invested in the upfit and startup, including furnishings, equipment and supplies. We believe in the power of destination venues, and their ability to infuse the community with energy, additional foot traffic and the civic pride that stems from variety and choices. The Syndicate is a model for what can be achieved by thinking beyond the typical approach to development. We look forward to many years of music, food, libation and celebrations in the future.