Local upper casual dining establishment set to open new location on Main Street in Celina in late 2022

CELINA, OHIO – Announced today (3-17-22) are plans to open a new restaurant concept in downtown Celina. The bar and restaurant will be located on the first floor at the historic 202 S. Main Street building. Construction is set to begin in the second quarter of 2022, with a targeted opening later this year.

The restauranteurs will be bringing their expertise from their co-ownership of another restaurant, The Merchant House, located in Greenville, OH. This new location and concept are sure to be a regional favorite, with an impressive bar, private dining space, outdoor seating, and all of the historic charm that the 140-year-old building can offer. 

When determining their next project, owners Chris and Cassie Campbell said they didn’t have to look far. 

Chris Campbell

“We are incredibly excited about this next opportunity.  We have always envisioned owning multiple restaurants, and this is the perfect fit. There is a lot to be excited about in Mercer County, including the re-emergence of downtown Celina, and we are looking forward to being part of all of it.”

Cassie Campbell

“Our restaurants aren’t just restaurants, they are an experience, a destination – and we’re in great company being located near the lake, across the street from well established businesses, and adjacent to plenty of dedicated entrepreneurs. We look forward to joining the community and adding to the evolving streetscape here.”

In a nod to their original location’s name, the new location will be called The James Watson House, a reference to James Watson Riley, who established Celina in 1834. The Campbell’s describe the space as having a “wow factor” with its charming exterior, high ceilings and raw material originally found in the space. The James Watson House will also feature a very large, new outdoor patio.

Campbell said –

“Our restaurant in Greenville is beautiful and situated in a historic building. The Celina location is special because it’s the perfect way to honor our established business while looking to the future hospitality experiences we can provide.”

The kitchen will be preparing New-American style foods, offering established favorites such as Creamy Seafood Jambalaya, Scotch Eggs, and introducing House-Aged Steaks and other elevated takes on American classics.  Sourcing good, wholesome, local produce and meats when available is always a focus.  More than 20 beers will be on tap, including plenty of local favorites, and an expansive cocktail list and premium spirits.

Michael Hoying, who alongside Phil Moeller, are underway with restoration to the historic building- 

 “The James Watson House will be the perfect addition to our 202 Main Street Building and the downtown Celina area. It’s a great feeling knowing you’re partnering with a team that not only delivers a quality product but cares equally about the experience provided to the community.”

As part of the project, Hoying and Moeller plan on restoring much of the original structure of the 140-year-old building which was formerly an Opera House, Cigar Factory, Grocery, and most notably Lininger Brothers Big Bargain Hardware. The construction project will include exposing and restoring of some of the original structural components on the historic building to restore to their previous conditions. A new elevator will serve the future 2nd and 3rd floor commercial, retail, or office tenants, which the developers will be making available for lease soon.  In addition, the team plans to work original parts of, what is reported to be, one of the first elevators in Mercer County as well as other building contents into the improvements.

Hoying said –

“Over the past few years while working on development and construction projects in the region, we’ve really come to love these historic ‘Main Street USA’ locations. When we decided to expand our investment, we quickly determined that there was no better place than Celina for that next focus.”

Campbell and Hoying say they expect the new location will bring more than 40 jobs, both full and part time, to downtown Celina.

To learn more about The James Watson House, visit www.thejameswatsonhouse.com.

Exterior photographs courtesy of Brittany Carol Photography. Food and beverage images courtesy of Clayton Chavez and Timothy Clopp Photography.

About The Merchant House / The James Watson House

The Merchant House was founded in Greenville, OH, in 2015 by Chris and Cassie Campbell and Georgianne and Randy Lambright.  The three-time winner of Best Casual Dining award for Ohio Magazine has been an amazing accomplishment for the restaurant group.  Now Chris and Cassie are looking to branch out on their own while bringing their style from The Merchant House with them.  The Campbell’s have over 40 years of combined restaurant experience and a true passion and love for what they do.  For more information about The Merchant House, visit www.tmhgreenville.com/

About Downtown Celina Revitalization / 202 Main Street

The once more dormant downtown Celina, Ohio is being transformed into a vibrant and walkable mixed-use neighborhood.  Strategically located in a historic Main Street USA region and adjacent to the expansive, Grand Lake, this project currently includes the restaurant improvements on the 1st floor as well as improvements to the 2nd and 3rd floors which will be available for commercial and office leasing.

About The Developers, Phil Moeller & Michael Hoying

St. Henry native, Michael Hoying, currently serves as Vice President and Partner of Brackett Builders, where he oversees the construction and development of the Greater Dayton, Cincinnati, and Northwest Ohio markets. He has directly managed the development of over 1,000 multifamily apartments across 1.5 million square feet between Central Ohio and Dayton markets since 2013. He holds a degree from The Ohio State University in construction systems management and is a LEED Accredited Professional.

Phil Moeller grew up and resides in Maria Stein where he is the owner of Moeller Real Estate.  He spent several years in executive management for a Fortune 500 company and is now focused on real estate investing in the Dayton and surrounding markets. Phil is expanding his business into commercial real estate and other real estate related opportunities.  He serves on the Marion Local School Board, has an engineering degree from The Ohio State University and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Dayton.  

Together, they’re looking to create a sense of place; focused on consumer needs from a commerce, culture and community perspective.