Celestial Bar Runs Dry

The Celestial Steakhouse, a staple of Mt. Adams dining and of jazz music in Cincinnati, has lost their liquor license, at least temporarily. The owner, Chanaka De Lanerolle, fell behind on his taxes and his liquor license was revoked, according to Ohio Liquor Control’s website and court records. (ETA: There is a transfer on record, so hopefully they’ll be getting it back soon. Thanks to the commenter “In the Know” for the tip!)

De Lanerolle has had two other restaurants close recently: Apsara and Mt. Adams Fish House, and his 2009 venture in Dayton, Sai Bai, has still not opened. Calls to the Celestial have not been returned. They do remain open despite the lack of liquor license and are taking reservations.

Hat tip to a reader who let me know after calling for reservations.

21 thoughts on “Celestial Bar Runs Dry”

  • Chanaka actually had to purchase a new liquor license, which are very expensive and usually sell for $50,000+. According to Ohio Liquor Control website, he has purchased the license from the former Champions Sports Bar & Restaurant on Crookshank Rd in Covedale:


    The transfer was filed on 5/16, and should take about two weeks to process. In the meantime the restaurant is allowing costumers to bring their own wine into the restaurant. The bar with it’s live music will reopen as soon as the new license is processed.

  • Interesting– looks like the transfer was filed on 5/9. Wonder what the hold up is?

    Would BYOB jeopardize their liquor license, as it’s pending?

    • My bad, it was filed on 5/9 not 5/16. OLC works very slowly, it can often be an excruciating wait for bar and restaurant owners waiting for the final license to be issued. As to BYOB, an establishment that does not have a license can offer BYOB. How that works in the period before the license to be issued is a good question. After spending big bucks on a new license I can only hope that Chanaka has done his homework and is following the law.

      • Me too. The Celestial, and its tradition of old-school jazz in the Incline, great bar and better view, are something I would think he wouldn’t want to risk. I knew that if you didn’t have a license, you could BYOB but I wasn’t sure how it worked if you had a license, lost it, and got a new one. Ohio doesn’t make its liquor laws particularly easy!

  • Licenses are not $50,000. Liquor licenses are, generally speaking, a few flat rates and roughly only a few thousand depending on the level as well as if you’re in a designated Entertainment District, Improvement/Investment District or similar. The only reason you’d need to purchase/transfer a license rather than simply apply for one is if you’re in an area where the number is capped by local ordinance or permits are in a state of over-issuance because of a population decline.

    Generally speaking a license is not “revoked” because of failure to pay taxes or BWC premiums but it’s very common for them to be suspended on their normal renewal cycle until those payments are made. It makes no sense to posit that you can lose a license and then simply purchase someones existing one since the Liquor Board will not approve a transfer to a corporation or even an address that has a history of suspension or revocation without a lot of investigation.

    Additionally, you cannot simply open up and allow carry-in of alcohol, nor can a premises in suspension or revocation allow it in the interim. That’s not to say it isnt done under the radar, but as a matter of law carry-in requires a separate permit.

    • I’ve seen licenses sell for a great deal of money, however, as you stated, they might have been particularly hot properties and/or areas. The growth of big chain restaurants, with their deep pocketed corporate financing, has also driven up the prices of licenses in many areas over recent years.

  • I heard the same thing just happened to Dee Felice. They have not been telling people when they call for reservations, though.

    • ??? Hey, Big Walt, have you ever been there? My girlfriend and I have been there twice in the past six months and the demographic mix of the customers was nothing like your stereotype.

  • I think Jeff Ruby may have just found his replacement for the Waterfront.
    C’mon Jeff – save a landmark restaurant here for us!!

  • Isn’t this almost the same thing that happened to Nicholsons & Rookwood Last year? The state didn’t renew their license and they had to scramble without one for a few weeks?? They got through it, and so will Celestial. These things happen in the topsy turvey F&B biz.

  • Big Walt, the idea that The Celestial is ridiculously overpriced is ridiculous. Dinners range from $20 to $35 and considering the quality cuts of steak and seafood offered along with the best view in Cincinnati seems very reasonable to me.

  • DON’T GO TO THE CELESTIAL! The owner is trashy and treated my friends (who entertained there) like dirt!!!!! They’re overpriced and rude so just don’t go.


  • We just entertained 19 guests for my husband’s 60th birthday and everything was outstanding, service, food, and of course the view.

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