Chef-Partner Matthew Spinner to Leave Bar Oni, the Lively Tremont Izakaya He Helped Create

Taking Spinner's place at the wheel will be chef Kevin Joecken

click to enlarge Chef-Partner Matthew Spinner to Leave Bar Oni, the Lively Tremont Izakaya He Helped Create
Douglas Trattner

This coming Sunday will be chef-partner Matthew Spinner's last public shift at Bar Oni, the Tremont bar-restaurant that he created to replace Ushabu, which closed at the start of the pandemic. Spinner, a bombastic and polarizing personality behind the bar, jokes that the development will be bad news to some and good news to others.

"That's the thing, right?" he says. "As many people that will be sad to see me go there will be people who are like, Oh, finally we can go to that place!"

All joking aside, Bar Oni is not going anywhere. Spinner had long planned to move on to other things, either a place of his own or elsewhere. As it happens, he's accepted an executive chef job at an existing restaurant that he's not ready to name.

Taking Spinner's place at the wheel will be Kevin Joecken, who has been working for years at Taki's Greek Kitchen in Avon Lake.

"He's a really great kid, really great chef and he's ready to embrace Tremont and to be back in the mix after being in Avon for five years," Spinner says.

Spinner and the rest of the team will still be involved during the transition to ensure that it's as smooth and seamless as possible. He's handing over a unique, thriving and entertaining business that he hopes will continue long after he's gone.

"As far as we're concerned, the menu and format sticks around," he states. "We have an incredible following of regulars who keep us busy every night of the week. So for Kevin, it's just a matter of — to be crass — not fucking it up."

The move sends Spinner on his way after seven years spent working in that space when you combine Bar Oni and Ushabu. It's bitter-sweet, he says, but the place is in good hands.

"I built that bar with my bare hands," he adds. "It's still a part of me and I'm pretty broken up about leaving. I couldn't leave it in a place where it wasn't set up to succeed."

About The Author

Douglas Trattner

For 20 years, Douglas Trattner has worked as a full-time freelance writer, editor and author. His work on Michael Symon's "Carnivore," "5 in 5" and “Fix it With Food” have earned him three New York Times Best-Selling Author honors, while his longstanding role as Scene dining editor garnered the award of “Best...
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