Molly Wellmann to sell her iconic cocktail bar, Japp’s

Molly Wellmann, Cincinnati’s most celebrated mixologist, has announced that she is selling her iconic Over-the-Rhine cocktail bar Japp’s Since 1879 to Four Entertainment Group (4EG) effective July 11.

Wellman has helped bring national media attention to Cincinnati’s bar and restaurant scene, appearing regularly in publications such as The New York Times and Esquire, which named Japp’s one of America’s Best Bars in 2016. In 2019, the Bar and Night Club Association named Wellmann the best bar owner in America.

“I knew my time was up as a bar owner,” Wellman told The Enquirer. I went to the eclipse from where I could go. I won the award for best bar owner in the country, so I don’t know where I could have gone from there.”

Wellmann said the sale was dependent on 4EG retaining its staff as well as musical acts appearing on board weekly. “The bands you love will still be playing! The same great cocktails will be served! But the time has come for me where I’m ready for a change, a new chapter,” she wrote in a Facebook post Thursday night.

She also said the challenges caused by the pandemic played a part in her decision to sell. “After two years of stress and a lot of anxiety, I decided it was time,” she told the Enquirer.

Wellmann leased Japp’s space at 1184 Main Street in 2010. It was originally known as a wig and hairdressing shop opened by John G. Japp, a German immigrant, in 1879. While another bar named Japp’s opened in the same space in the early 1990s. Under Wellmann, it became known for its drink menu, which included historic cocktails from Cincinnati and beyond.

In a joint statement from Wellmann and 4-EG Bob Deck, the managing partners of 4EG wrote, “Molly is a longtime friend of mine and an icon in the Greater Cincinnati bar and restaurant industry. We are delighted that she entrusted us with the task of keeping the Japp’s. brand alive through high-quality cocktails and historical stories. In addition to retaining the beloved Japp’s name, we plan to retain existing staff members and honor previously scheduled events, bands and DJs, to ensure a smooth transition.

Inside Japp's – Since 1879.

Other 4EG properties include Pillar bar, Downtown, Keystone, Rosedale, and the Lackman, among many others.

When asked if she would throw a farewell party, Wellmann told the Enquirer, “I didn’t want to do that. Because I’m just going to cry.

“I’m not leaving Cincinnati,” she continued. “I will always be there.”

About James K. Bonnette

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