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Small City Taphouse

Melissa Topey • Aug 27, 2014 at 2:40 PM

As food and drinks go, there’s an impressive addition in the works for downtown Sandusky: a 200-item menu and dozens of craft beers.

“Small City Taphouse is all about good beer and good food,” said Kha Bui, the newest restaurateur to join downtown’s cornucopia of culinary delights.

Small City Taphouse menu items

The menu will be extensive, but here’s a quick sampling:

•Pho: Vietnamese noodle soup

•Steamed stuffed bun: Stuffed with shrimp, pork or chicken

•Banh Mi: Asian-style sub

•Crispy pork belly: Pork crackling coated in mayonnaise and roasted

•Stir-Fry Noodle: Stir-fry containing lots of vegetables and seafood


Work crews are toiling feverishly to get Small City Taphouse ready for a mid-May opening in the former Cabana Jacks location, a prime spot at the corner of Market Street and Columbus Avenue.    

Bui and a business partner are completely revamping the building’s layout. It will effectively be divided into two sections: a “tap house” and a restaurant.

Workers are installing two new bars to the left of the entryway, the larger one seating about 30 and the smaller bar seating about 10.

To the right, there will be 35 tables for diners.

Features typically seen in big-city bars will be offered at Small City Taphouse, such as two metal sliding doors opened when there’s warm weather, creating a feel of outdoor dining when you’re inside the place.

In short, no one will recognize the restaurant as the former Cabana Jacks, Bui said.

And those are just a few of the physical features.

The menu and drinks will be extensive indeed, with plenty of wine, liquor and suds, including an endless array of craft beers — 45 on tap and 200 bottled varieties.

“I’m a craft beer lover” Bui said.

Taphouse beer

Craft beer offerings will be rotated on a continual basis. Here are some offerings:

•Columbus Bodhi (Columbus Brewing Co.)

•Hop JuJu (Fat Head Brewery)

•Chillwave (Great Lakes Brewing Co.)

•St. Bernardus Abt 12 (Belgian beer)

•Zombie Dust (Three Floyds Brewing Co.)


The restaurant’s menu will have about 200 items, largely a mix of international foods such as Asian and Vietnamese. Prices will range from $2 to $14.

For now, family and friends have joined contractors as they ready for the grand opening, just a few months away. They’re installing new kitchen equipment, and every wall in the place is being painted, mostly in alternating warm colors, such as one red wall and one yellow.

It’s a costly endeavor, but well worth it.

Bui said he has always loved downtown Sandusky, so he jumped at this opportunity.

“I want to be a part of rebuilding downtown” he said.

He signed the paperwork on the building even before Cabana Jacks had its farewell weekend.

“I think it’s exciting, especially given the turnaround,” said Peter Zaehringer, executive director of Erie County Economic Development Corporation.

The building’s quick sale confirms what county and city officials have been saying for years: Downtown Sandusky is in the thick of a renaissance, particularly of the culinary sort.

“People are finding downtown more attractive” Zaehringer said.

As more restaurants continue to join the downtown scene, more people will be drawn to the area, city commissioner Dick Brady said.

And a growing variety of foods and restaurant styles will only help continue the growth.

“I love that style of cooking,” Brady said of Small City Taphouse’s planned menu. “You are certainly going to see me there. I can assure you of that”

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