Beyond the BBQ

Since leaping headfirst into the local restaurant scene more than a decade ago, Elias Leisring has delved into dozens of side projects, including:

Eli’s BBQ, Multiple Locations

The flagship store on Riverside Drive in East End now features an all-seasons pavilion, outdoor smoker, ample picnic space, horseshoe pits, and vegetable garden. Meanwhile, fans can take home signature dishes from Findlay Market and Kroger stores across the region.

Fireside Pizza, Walnut Hills

Leisring and business partner Drew Simmons served as mentors and backers in this pizza shop’s transition from pop-up to permanence. Located in a vintage firehouse on McMillan Street, Fireside Pizza offers up wood-fired pies with toppings that range from meaty-traditional to vegan-chic.

Saundra’s Kitchen, Downtown

With partners Trey Borland and Saundra Linn, Eli corralled veteran chefs from all over the Tristate for a simple mission: create fresh lunch options for nine-to-fivers in Cincinnati’s Central Business District. During the launch phase, Eli managed the kitchen and helped develop the menu; now, Saundra’s drum-tight delivery team zips a daily menu to the business crowd.

Queen City Radio/Queen City Whip, West End

When owners Chris and Louisa Reckman wanted to add food to their bar, Leisring suggested the pair forego adding a kitchen and instead utilize the spacious parking lot, now home to a permanent food truck serving up a handmade classic burgers, fries, and shakes.

Hi-Mark, East End

In 2017, Leisring teamed with the Lang Thang Group—owners of Pho Lang Thang and Quan Hapa in Over-the-Rhine—to create this roadhouse named for the Great Flood of 1937 that crested at nearly 80 feet, swallowing up eastern portions of the Ohio River Valley where the bar (and its neighbor, Eli’s BBQ) currently sits. An ultra-tight menu focuses on cocktails, local beer, and Vietnamese-inspired bar food.

Herzog Music, Downtown

In an increasingly frequent departure from the food business, Leisring partnered with musician friends for a hybrid venture in the former recording studio on Race Street where Hank Williams and other songsters once recorded. Herzog Music offers vintage records, instrument repair, and music lessons in addition to hosting performances that range from traveling national acts to free, family-friendly puppet shows.

Hannah is a graduate of NKU's political science program and a freelance creative who writes extensively about development in Greater Cincinnati. She doesn't like to fly, but she loves to travel. Her favorite books are A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Love in the Time of Cholera.