When members of the Carannante family started brainstorming ideas for businesses to go into their new Route 33 strip mall, they wanted something that paired well with their originial business: the neighboring Brothers Pizza.
Managing partner Antonio Carannante, along with his brother, father, uncle and cousin, finally landed on a bar and bistro, and named the business “Blend Bar and Bistro.”
“This concept just kind of came together,” Carannante said. “We wanted to do a variety of things. We wanted a good blend of beer, wine, vodkas and scotches. We wanted to be more of a classy selection place all the way around, from organic natural vodkas to Grey Goose and Ketel Ones. We wanted an establishment where you’re here to socialize and have fun. We didn’t want a fine dining restaurant, where you’re coming in and you need to sit and then go to the bar. We wanted a sociable place.”
The idea has worked well for both their new business and the one that’s been around for decades. Ever since Blend opened in October 2012, patrons have been taking advantage of the business’ large takeout selection, picking up beer or wine to bring to dinner at Brothers, Carannante said.
After landing on the concept and backbone for Blend, the Carannante family played around with a lot of different possible names for the business. They wanted a single word name that could be catchy and easy to remember, but they wanted it to be relatable to the business.
“There’re a lot of craft beers out there, and they all have different blends of hops, barley and wheat,” Carannante said. “It’s the same thing with wines. A lot of wines have different grapes in them. The word ‘blend’ actually shows up a lot on the print of labels whether it’s for beer, wine, vodka or scotch because nowadays, everything is made with a little something different. There’s so much variety of everything in the alcohol business.”
Carannante said “blend” had the most relation to what they were trying to do. Aside from the literal meaning of what happens to beverage ingredients, the word also fit the concept of the ambiance they were looking for: A sociable atmosphere where people can blend together.
Watching people blend together is one of Carannante’s favorite parts of owning the bar.
“It’s great to see people come together here after years whether it’s for some sort of business meeting, networking event or reunion,” Carannante said. “It’s really cool to be able to see people have a good time.”
This concept of blending people together in a sociable atmosphere pairs with Blend’s menu items. Instead of offering full-course meals, they offer small plates and appetizers that encourage sharing with a group.
Their menu includes paninis, sliders, wraps, salads, shrimp cocktails, sandwiches, antipastos and more.
“A majority of what we have on the menu is enjoyable for any individual to eat, and as a sharable dish,” Carannante said. “We don’t have any filet minion, large pasta dishes or anything like that. We like to make things easy for people to order a few items and share them. Our concept is light fare that will fill you up.”
Carannante said Blend’s most popular food items include their chicken fiesta panini, barbeque chicken sliders, homemade spinach and artichoke dip and pretzels bites.
The small plates and appetizers are also convenient because Blend usually has a lot going on.
For example, in July, Blend will be holding a karaoke contest. Every Monday night, a contest will be held and a winner will be chosen. The last Monday of the month, finals will be held for the four winners from previous weeks. There will be prizes every Monday, including a final prize at the end of the month.
On Tuesdays, Blend has martini specials for ladies night, and there’s usually live music on Wednesdays.
Carannante said what really sets Blend apart is its Thursday night activity.
“We try to do some sort of tasting,” Carannante said. “That can range anywhere from a tap takeover to a wine, scotch, tequila, gin or vodka tasting. The tastings really separate us, because not many places in the area do that sort of thing.”
On the weekends, Carannante said Blend doesn’t have a special theme other than as a place to have a good time. Occasionally, there will be live music or something different to spark some fun.
Blend Bar & Bistro is located at 911 Route 33 in Hamilton. For more information, call: (609) 245-8887. On the Web: www.blendbarandbistro.com.