Nick Lachey’s story from Cincinnati kid to boy-band superstar is well known. It’s been told time and time again between rocketing onto the charts, landing on a reality show, going through a rough divorce and then finally finding the love of his life and starting a family with Vanessa Minnillo. Nick Lachey’s story of being a major celebrity trying to reconnect with his roots? That’s just starting to unfold.
Last week A&E brought us the world premiere of Lachey’s Bar, which follows all-around good (and talented) guys Nick and Drew Lachey as they work to open a restaurant in their hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. Against the backdrop of a gentrified downtown neighborhood and the sounds of bellowing Bengals and Reds fans, to the hearts of these two Midwestern boys, all signs point to success for both the show and the bar. We chatted with Nick and got the inside scoop on his mind-set during the process of both opening a bar and starting another TV show. Nick said that he and Drew had always discussed opening a bar, but it was the where, when and how they needed to work out.
“I think it’ll be a great thing for the city to have that profile on TV,” Nick said of Cincinnati. “Cincinnati is, genuinely, it’s home and we’re proud to come from there… We’re excited for the opportunity to showcase Cincinnati on a national level and show everybody out there what a great city it is.”
Obviously, the big question was whether their celebrity would help or hinder the bar’s business. There’s no shortage of people who love the Lachey boys. But in a trendy neighborhood, people might shy away from the boy-band fan image or the added commotion that comes with TV cameras. At the end of the day, though, Nick knew what was most important.
“If people walk in and they’re excited because it’s our bar but the product is bad, they’re not gonna come back no matter who you are,” Nick said. “So we have to make sure the product lives up to people’s expectation of it.”
Cincinnatians can’t drive down I-75 and jam out to the radio without hearing plans for another radio-sponsored party at Lachey’s Bar. Each weekend, stacks of people hang out at tables and around the bar under a lit-up ticker displaying specials, sports scores and anything else to attract the eye. Set amid a newly redone park that hosts concerts, the hopping and newly semi-gentrified hipster hangout of Main St. and all the hubbub of the 9-5 downtown business district, Lachey’s Bar pulls in an eclectic mix of curious-turned-pleased bar goers. They serve up tons of the local beer Cincinnati boasts and “elevated” pub grub like mahimahi Caesar salad and bison burgers.
“We wanted to do this for a long, long time, and decided it was finally time to pull the trigger,” Nick said. “Especially having the opportunity to do it in OTR [Over-the-Rhine], an area we grew up and went to school in. But, yeah. You plan it and plan it and plan it. And finally, it’s just fingers crossed that hopefully people enjoy it.”
The OTR area of Cincinnati is an interesting spot, though. Forever changed by the race riots of the ’90s, there’s constant tension in the neighborhoods surrounding Lachey’s. Three blocks one way is a poverty-stricken neighborhood with sensationalized violence. Three blocks the other way, people pay $25 for French confectioneries. Thanks to the likes of Fox news, it’s hard to get the suburbanites downtown.
“But I think that’s changing,” Nick said of his hopes for the neighborhood. “I think that area has become such a cool area. We didn’t know specifically we wanted to do it there, but we knew we would know where was the right place. And when all that renaissance started happening down there, it was just a no-brainer for us. That was home and we used to go down there.”
They found the perfect spot. Location? Check. Local draw? Check. Amazing food? Check. TV show? Nick admitted they hadn’t originally thought of turning opening Lachey’s Bar into a television show. But when the network approached, it seemed like a great idea. They worked with the network for a long time, even before another set of famous brothers, The Wahlbergs, launched their restaurant and television show. There’s no competition, though. The boys are in two different areas of the country. Lachey shared that they even spoke with Donnie and Mark Wahlberg to see what kind of pointers they had.
So, business life is good for Nick and Drew Lachey. But we had to ask: With so much going on in Nick’s life, from opening a business to dealing with both his and his wife’s celebrity, did he feel a strain on his marriage?
“You know, life is all about balance, right?” Nick shared. “It’s good to be busy, but obviously, being a father and husband is paramount in my life. So I’ve got to try to balance it all out and make time for everything. But that’s true for both Vanessa and I. We’re both working and both doing stuff. It’s all about walking that line. I’ll never get to that place where I don’t have enough for my family. You gotta make sure you carve that out.”
So far, so good. Nick even recently added yet another project to his plate. He teamed up with Lay’s for their Do Us A Flavor contest and traveled around the country surprising the four finalists. All four new chip flavors are available to try now, and Lay’s wants everyone to weigh in on their favorites. The winner scores a sweet $1 million, which Lachey said was all the reason he needed to sign up for yet another project. Who wouldn’t want to be in charge of telling someone they might win a million bucks?
Help a brother out, though: Try to vote for your favorite Lay’s chip between now and Oct. 18. And don’t forget to tune into the awesome insanity each episode of Lachey’s Bar offers up on A&E every Wednesday night at 10:30/9:30c.