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National sustainability team researching LEED-ND possibilities in Northside

Northside is one of six neighborhoods across the country that received a grant from the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program, which is part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. As part of the grant, each community will receive free sustainable neighborhood planning and design consultation from Global Green USA in order to determine if LEED for Neighborhood Development is feasible.
This year’s grant will also help neighborhoods in Memphis, New Orleans, Phoenix, Seattle and St. Louis. Northside is Global Green’s 24th neighborhood in three years.
The Global Green team conducted a three-day visit in Northside last week, including a meeting with representatives from the business district and other stakeholders, a community meeting and a walking tour of the neighborhood.
In order to be considered for the grant, a community must meet certain criteria, including a project that’s considered a catalytic development for LEED-ND. In Northside, it’s the proposed transit hub behind Django Western Taco on Blue Rock Road in what is today a parking lot controlled by the Northside Business Association.
“Sustainability has many angles,” says Walker Wells, member of the Global Green team. “It’s walkability, which is not just using cars or burning fossil fuels but also supporting local businesses.”
The transit hub would serve the eight bus lines that converge in Northside. The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) recently purchased two pieces of property behind the parking lot and is working with MSA Architects on the plans.
Loosely, the idea is to create a two-way bus street with 6-8 bays for buses. It would be a clean, safe area for bus riders and drivers as well as pedestrians.
After each visit, the team makes recommendations for infrastructure and policy changes aimed at helping build a future that’s more resource-efficient, livable, healthy, equitable and environmentally responsible.
“We will identify the assets, challenges and opportunities in Northside and make suggestions to make those assets better and how to address the challenges and opportunities as well as who would help achieve them,” Wells says.

Global Green will present their findings in a month, and from there Northside will decide the next steps to take. LEED-ND certification is an expensive and lengthy process, and to date Global Green has only certified proposed plans or parts of projects, not entire projects.

Local entrepreneurs partner to open Chocolate Bee storefront in Northside

Shalini Latour, owner of Chocolats Latour, and Samantha Gordon, owner of Bee Haven Honey, are partnering to open a retail space and commercial kitchen in Northside. The Chocolate Bee will open at 4037 Hamilton Ave. in November with a grand opening event planned for that month’s Northside Second Saturday.
The 800-square-foot space has a commercial kitchen, which will mainly be used by Latour to make her handcrafted chocolates. The other portion will be dedicated for retail, with both Chocolats Latour and Bee Haven Honey products for sale.
Latour started her business at home six years ago, and as her business grew she rented a kitchen one day a week. She’s been in the market for a commercial kitchen of her own, and having a storefront location made sense as well. She got to know Gordon through the Northside Farmers Market and asked if she’d be interested in sharing a space.
“I live in the neighborhood and really love it here,” Latour says. “I like the feeling of Northside. It’s diverse and eclectic, and I wanted to be able to add to that.”
You can currently get Chocolats Latour at Coffee Emporium in both Hyde Park and Over-the-Rhine, College Hill Coffee Company, Jungle Jim’s, Melt, Park + Vine and Sidewinder as well as at the Northside Farmers Market on Wednesdays. Bee Haven Honey is available at Findlay Market and online.
“It already smells like coffee when you walk in,” Gordon says of the new storefront, which is next door to Collective Espresso, while Cluxton Alley Coffee Roasters operates out of the building's basement. “Add the smell of chocolate, and it will be a heavenly place to shop.”

Northside Porch Tour to showcase neighborhood's history and hospitality

Northside will host its 10th annual porch tour at 6-9 p.m. Oct. 10. This year, the tour will include houses along the full lengths of Haight Avenue, North Argyle Place and South Argyle Place as well as portions of Hamilton Avenue. 
Two 20-person horse drawn carriages will tour the route, and tour guides will provide information about the history of the houses and porches. Tours will depart from Jergens Park at 1615 Bruce Ave.
Carriage rides will cost between $4 and $10 depending on the amount you want to spend to support the Northside Porch Tour. You can also walk the route and take in the tour at your own pace.
This year’s tour includes 150 porches, plus thousands of luminaries that will line the route to light the way.
Along with the tour, there will be hotdogs provided by Citizens on Patrol, a youth bake sale and music by Northside’s jazz/blues/funk quartet Evanston Kinney. Food and entertainment will also be set up in Jergens Park.
The tour is made possible by the Northside Community Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, which provided funds to offset the cost of the live music and the luminaries.

Apple Street Market in the final fundraising stages, hoping to get construction underway next month

Northside’s only grocery store shut its doors for good in 2013. Now the neighborhood is considered a food desert, and residents who don’t have their own transportation must take long bus rides in order to shop at a Kroger in other communities.

The Cincinnati Union Co-op Initiative, along with community organizations and neighborhood heroes, is working to bring a grocery store back to Northside.
“A grocery store will also help make the community more economically vibrant,” says Ellen Dienger, Apple Street Market’s project manager. “Grocery stores are neighborhood anchors, and they help bring in new businesses and residents. With The Gantry apartments coming soon, it’s a huge plus for the neighborhood, and a grocery store will only add to that.”
Apple Street Market, which will reside in the former Save-a-Lot building, should be open in the next year. Approximately 1,100 community shares have been sold, and the next share threshold the group plans to meet is 1,500.
Outside of the community shares and the initial loan, Apple Street Market is raising an additional $500,000, which is part of the project’s overall capital package. The capital package covers everything — building renovations, equipment, merchandise, salaries and startup costs. Right now, the group needs to raise only about $45,000 more in order to meet that goal.
Apple Street Market is currently working on underwriting the loan and hopes to bring that together this month. After that, construction will begin on the building.
From start to finish, construction is projected to take 8-10 months and includes taking out the building’s drop ceiling, replacing the tile floor, painting, redoing the building’s facade and installing equipment.
“The bones of the building are really good, and we’re just sprucing things up a bit and giving it a new feel,” Dienger says.
Apple Street Market also recently hired its general manager, Christopher DeAngelis, who starts Oct. 10. He has 20 years experience in the grocery business and has worked every job from bagger and cashier to the business side. He also has experience with co-ops and will help oversee the market’s launch process, construction and staffing needs.

Alternative transportation options improve with Jungle Shuttle, Red Bike and Uber

Transportation isn’t limited to just buses and taxis anymore.
Urban living means relying less on cars and more on public transportation, walking and bicycling. Neighborhoods all over the Greater Cincinnati area are becoming more bike-friendly and, as in most large cities, are constantly investigating new modes of transportation.
We all know about Metro and TANK, but what other options are out there?

Cincy Red Bike
In operation for a year, Cincy Red Bike offers a bikeshare program on an hourly, daily and monthly basis. For only $8 a day, you can pick up a Red Bike at any of its 50 locations throughout Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky and ride to and from your destination. Annual memberships are also available.

Cincy Red Bike celebrated its one-year anniversary Sept. 15 by revealing numbers that show a total of 88,408 rides over the first year, an impressive 70 percent ahead of its projected 52,000 rides. There were 1,331 annual members, 42 percent over the projected 935 annual members, and a total of 14,767 unique users.

Check out Red Bike’s website for a location map and details. 

Jungle Shuttle
Taft’s Ale House and Cincy Brew Bus recently teamed up to offer a shuttle from Over-the-Rhine to The Banks and back for select Cincinnati Bengals home games. Mike Stokes, owner of Cincy Brew Bus, sees it as an opportunity to teach people about Cincinnati’s beer history and culture as well as a way to bridge OTR and downtown.
On game days, the shuttle will leave from Taft’s at 10:40 a.m. and will make trips every 20 minutes to O’Malley’s in the Alley near Paul Brown Stadium. O’Malley’s is the first bar to offer Taft’s beer outside of the actual brewery, and current offerings include Nellie’s Key Lime Caribbean Ale on tap and Cherrywood Amber in cans. Each shuttle rider will receive a wristband for $1 off Taft’s beer at O’Malley’s on the day they ride the shuttle.
The shuttle had its first run Sept. 20 and will operate on Oct. 4, Oct. 11, Nov. 29, Dec. 13 and Jan. 3. It’s free, but you have to register beforehand at Taft’s.

Available in 60 countries around the world, Uber offers rides at lower costs than most taxis. Drivers are contracted and can pick you up and drop you off wherever you need to go.

Download the Uber app on your smartphone, plan out your route and a driver will be along to pick you up. And you don’t have to worry about carrying change or tip money with you — payments are done via the app.   

Coming soon: Cincinnati Streetcar
Streetcar construction is slated to be completed by the end of October in downtown and OTR, just in time for the delivery of the first streetcar vehicle around Oct. 30. The second vehicle will arrive Dec. 11, with the third, fourth and fifth coming afterwards.
Cincinnati Streetcar is a $133 million project featuring 18 stops along a 3.6-mile loop through downtown and OTR. The route connects Second Street at The Banks to Henry Street near Findlay Market. Stops along the way include Government Square, Fountain Square, the public library, Aronoff Center for the Arts, the Gateway Quarter, Music Hall and Washington Park. Plans are for the streetcar to run 18 hours a day 365 days a year.

American Can reunion scheduled for Sept. 27

Since opening in 1921 in Northside, the American Can Lofts building has seen many tenants. It operated as the American Can Company until 1963, then it was the home of Cleveland Machine Company. It was largely vacant for 30 years, but a number of industrial artists had studios there in the 1990s and bands used it for practice space.
Now it’s home to loft apartments, Ruth’s Parkside Café and a design firm, and Mary Kroner and David Tape, the owners of Ruth’s, have been plotting a way to pay homage to the building’s past.
“Our customers are always interested in the building’s history,” Kroner says. “We’ve had so many people tell us about a relative who worked here or that they themselves did.”
Kroner and Tape want to hear those stories, so from 3-5 p.m. Sept. 27 they’re hosting the American Can Factory Reunion. They’ve been given photos and other mementos from people and plan to share what information they know during a short presentation.
After that, Kroner says the floor will be open to anyone who has a story to tell about the building.
“So far we’ve heard from someone from each era of the building’s life, and we’re excited to share the history with whoever wants to hear it,” she says.
Kroner has been in contact with a woman who visited American Can on a tour when she was in grade school, and she still has the bank she was given, which is in the shape of the building. She’s also spoken with a woman who is in her 90s who worked in the building making torpedo shells during WWII.
“We’ve had so many people hear about the reunion, and it’s going to be bigger than we ever thought,” Tape says.
For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.

Several local food truck owners taking next step and opening storefronts

Food trucks have become the meal-on-the-go option for Cincinnatians, whether it’s a business lunch or community event. After establishing themselves and their menu offerings, a number of those food truck owners are now expanding their businesses and opening brick-and-mortar locations.
Share Cheesebar
6105 Ridge Road, Pleasant Ridge
Emily Frank, owner of C’est Cheese food truck, is planning to open a cheese retail shop this fall in Pleasant Ridge’s Sixty99 development next to Nine Giant Brewing. The shop will be part retail and part cheese bar, with a large selection of products and a rotating variety of cheeses, wine, beer and fresh bread.
Frank started C’est Cheese in 2011, when there were about 10 food trucks on the streets of Cincinnati. Today there are about 60, and she decided to use her love of cheese to introduce another venture in the city.
“I’ve always been a huge lover of cheese but have always been a bit intimidated by most cheese shops,” she says. “There are so many choices, and sometimes it feels a bit overwhelming and I’m hesitant to ask questions in order to learn more.”
Share Cheesebar will have a relaxed atmosphere, where customers can come in and enjoy a cheese or charcuterie plate or a glass of wine. Cheese will also be available for purchase to take to a party or home for dinner.
“The name ‘Share’ is really what we want people to do in the space,” Frank says.
Even though Frank is starting another venture, she will continue serving up the cheesy goodness from Blanche, her food truck.

Urbana Café
1206 Broadway St., Pendleton/OTR
Daniel Noguera purchased a Vespa Ape in 2013 and converted it into a mobile espresso café that’s a Findlay Market staple on the weekends. Now Noguera plans to open a brick-and-mortar café in October next to Nation Kitchen + Bar in the Pendleton area next to Over-the-Rhine.
Urbana Café will serve high-quality espresso-based drinks as well as a limited food menu with both sweet and savory options.
Noguera plans to continue his mobile coffee business and currently has two Vespas roaming the streets of Cincinnati. He has plans to expand the mobile side of his business to a nearby city, such as Louisville or Columbus.
1342 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine
Chef Alfio Gulisano and his partner Scott Lambert, owners of Alfio’s Buon Cibo in Hyde Park, recently started a food truck called Che Empanadas. They’re expanding on that concept and planning to open a restaurant based on the Argentinean staple of pizza and empanadas.
Che!, which means Hey!, will open its doors in Over-the-Rhine in the fall. The restaurant will feature a large bar with Argentine wines by the glass and craft beer options as well as an outdoor dining area with a parrilla, a large outdoor grill that will feature a rotating variety of grilled meats.
The restaurant will also have an ordering window that opens onto the street, where customers can get empanadas and pizza during late-night hours.
5164 Kennedy Ave., Pleasant Ridge
The owners of Catch-A-Fire Pizza opened a café inside of MadTree Brewing in February. It’s an extension of the food truck, and the menu features items infused with MadTree beer.
Dojo Gelato
1735 Blue Rock St., Northside
Dojo Gelato has been a staple at Findlay Market for six years, and next spring owner Michael Christner plans to open a stand-alone location in the old J.F. Dairy Corner in Northside.
Christner will continue to serve his gelato, which has become a Cincinnati favorite, but will also expand Dojo’s menu with twists on traditional ice cream favorites. That menu will eventually be served at the Findlay Market location as well, as all of Dojo’s production will be moved to the new Northside location.
O Pie O
1527 Madison Road, East Walnut Hills
While not a food truck, O Pie O will be expanding beyond its Findlay Market pop-up roots with a brick-and-mortar store opening soon at DeSales Corner. The store is currently hiring workers.
The pie shop will feature both sweet and savory options as well as a small menu of soups and salads. Wine, craft beer, coffee and ice cream will also be served as accompaniments.

Dojo Gelato opening stand-alone shop in Northside

Dojo Gelato, a Findlay Market staple for six years, plans to open a stand-alone location in the old J.F. Dairy Corner building at 1735 Blue Rock St. in Northside. Owner Michael Christner says he hopes to open by early spring next year and be the first place in the neighborhood to serve ice cream.  
“I’m really excited about the new location,” Christner says. “I like to say that I bought myself a job when I started Dojo six years ago. So far I’ve far succeeded the goals I set out to accomplish with my business and can’t wait to see what’s next.”
When Christner and his wife moved to Cincinnati about seven years ago, they settled in Northside. He looked for locations in the neighborhood for Dojo then but didn’t find the perfect spot. Now that he and his family have moved elsewhere, he’s bringing the business to where it all began.
“It’s very serendipitous,” he says. “Plus, the building was an old soft-serve stand.”
Not only will the new Dojo location serve gelato, but Christner plans to put his own spin on traditional ice cream treats such as sundaes and soft-serve. He also wants to expand the menu he offers at Findlay Market, which he can’t do right now because of space constraints there.
The Findlay Market location is only 210 square feet, and much of that is used for production, which is done on a rolling cart. With a larger space, Christner will be able to develop new treats and flavors.
Even though Dojo won’t open in Northside until 2016, Christner plans to move all of his production work to the new location as soon as possible.

Low-income senior housing complex planned for Northside

Northside currently does not have dedicated senior housing, but Episcopal Retirement Homes (ERH) is about to change that. They’ve partnered with Model Group on a $10 million project at the corner of Knowlton and Mad Anthony streets to provide housing for low-income seniors.
Knowlton Northside will have 56 units in a four-story building: 14 one-bedroom apartments and 40 two-bedroom apartments that will be LEED Silver certified and handicap accessible.
“We really want to build a community in Northside for our residents,” says Bryan Reynolds, integrated marketing director for ERH. “We plan to offer a number of amenities, including transportation, health and welfare counseling and a community area for events.”
ERH was formed in the 1950s under the name Memorial Homes Foundation, with the mission of providing care and housing for seniors. To date, ERH has three assisted living facilities and nine affordable housing complexes and, in addition to Knowlton Northside, is developing new facilities in College Hill and in Springdale.
“Northside is one of the communities that the city is targeting for its Core 4 program, and for us it made sense to create a new development here,” Reynolds says. “It’s also an up-and-coming neighborhood, and we want to provide affordable housing that is within walking distance of a number of shops, restaurants and other amenities.”
Construction on Knowlton Northside will begin by the end of August and should be finished by September 2016.

Cincy Summer Streets back for second year, adds event in OTR

Cincy Summer Streets return car-free one-day festivals to Walnut Hills and Northside starting July 18 — after drawing about 4,200 people last year in the two neighborhoods — and will introduce a third version in Over-the-Rhine.
“We looked at many neighborhoods and there are so many options for expanding,” says Margy Waller, co-founder of Summer Streets. “This gives people a chance to play in their own neighborhood in a space that’s typically used by cars.”  
The areas in Walnut Hills and Northside are slightly different from last year — Walnut Hills will be focused on McMillan Street between Victory Parkway and Chatham Street, while Northside will use Hamilton Avenue between Pullan and Spring Grove avenues. OTR’s event will be held on Pleasant Street, which connects Washington Park and Findlay Market, between 14th Street and Glass Alley.
The majority of activities will be held on sidewalks, leaving the streets open to walkers, bicyclists and skateboarders. Many of the same organizations will be back for this year’s events, featuring events like climbing walls, double-dutch jump roping, lawn bowling, mini golf, jousting, hula hooping, yoga, dancing, belly dancing, art and crosswalk painting.
With the streets free of cars, people can walk, run, bike, skateboard and roller blade up and down the event space.
“Cincy Summer Streets is a celebration of the communities’ largest public spaces, the streets,” Waller says. “We turn the streets into parks for a day and we help connect neighborhoods with their people, while getting those people to enjoy healthy activities and art-making right in their own neighborhoods.”
In OTR, Summer Streets is partnering with Findlay Market, which is working with a number of community partners to further activate Pleasant Street to benefit the community. They’re planning to involve Market vendors in the event, which is different from the events in Walnut Hills and Northside.
Other community partners include Interact for Health, US Bank/Haile Foundation, Topic Design, Walnut Hills Area Council, Walnut Hills Business Group, Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation, Northside Community Council, Northside Business Association, Over-the-Rhine Community Council, Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce, Art on the Streets and Cincinnati Development Fund.
“These events help foster civic pride as well as stimulate economic development and help to represent the community’s businesses and government investments,” Waller says. “The city has amazing parks, vibrant local business corridors, arts and artists and active community organizations. Summer Streets provides a chance to highlight all of these assets during safe, fun and free community events.”
The first Summer Streets event is July 18 in Walnut Hills. Northside’s event is Aug. 23, and OTR’s is Sept. 26. All three events are scheduled from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and are free and open to the public.

Make sure to keep tabs on the Summer Streets website for each event's specific activities and organizations.

Tristate celebrates 4th of July with variety of events, music and fireworks

Looking for a way to celebrate America's birthday? Check out the variety of events around town to honor the 4th of July.
Thursday, July 2
American Salute
6 p.m., Burnet Woods, Clifton
Music from the Cincinnati Contemporary Jazz Orchestra's Little Big Band and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra’s string quartet will be followed by fireworks at 9 p.m.

Northside Rock n’ Roll Carnival
Music, food and craft beer fills Northside’s Hoffner Park all weekend. The event itself is free, and you can purchase drinks and food from a variety of vendors.
Friday, July 3
Cincinnati Reds Fireworks Friday
Game at 7:10 p.m., Great American Ball Park, Downtown
Fireworks will follow the game, with a live soundtrack provided by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. If you don’t go to the game, you can still catch the fireworks from points along the river, including Smale Riverfront Park and Newport on the Levee.
Fireworks at Kings Island
10 p.m.
The park itself is open until midnight. Fireworks show comes with price of admission.
LaRosa’s Balloon Glow at Coney Island
10 p.m.
Head over to Coney Island for a day of nostalgic rides as well as LaRosa’s 15th Annual Balloon Glow, which begins at 8 p.m.; fireworks will follow the Balloon Glow. Tickets are $10.95 and up for Coney Island rides and the Sunlite Pool, but the Balloon Glow and Fireworks are free with the price of parking.
Independence Day Celebration on Fountain Square
9:45 p.m., Fountain Square, Downtown
After the MidPoint Indie Summer Concert Series, the fireworks show will begin from the roof of Macy’s downtown store.
Saturday, July 4
4th of July Jam
3-10 p.m., Washington Park, Over-the-Rhine
Enjoy live music from The Almighty Get Down, The Infinity Project and Ray’s Music Exchange as well as a simulcast of The Grateful Dead’s “Fare Thee Well” concert at Chicago’s Soldier Field on a large LED screen. The free event will end with fireworks and will also include food, craft beer, carnival games and face painting.
Ault Park Independence Day Fireworks
11 a.m., Ault Park, Mt. Lookout
A children’s parade will begin the day of festivities, food and music. A fireworks show will end the day at 10 p.m.  
Cincinnati Reds Independence Day Fireworks Show
Game at 7:15 p.m., Great American Ball Park, Downtown
Fireworks to follow the game.
Covington Neighborhood Bicentennial Independence Day Parade
10:30 a.m.
Stake out a spot along the Peaselburg neighborhood parade route (Euclid to 16th Street and up Russell) and join the rest of Northern Kentucky for an after party at St. Augustine Church.
Fireworks at Kings Island
10 p.m.
The park itself is open until midnight. Fireworks show comes with price of admission.
Northside Fourth of July Parade
12 noon
Northside businesses, organizations and residents show off their creative sides with a variety of floats. The parade route is down Hamilton Avenue, beginning at the corner of Ashtree and Hamilton and ending at Hoffner Park.
Red, White and Blue Ash
4-10:30 p.m., Blue Ash Summit Park
Lots of free entertainment, including The Doobie Brothers at 8:15 p.m. and fireworks at 10 p.m.
Red, White, and Boom!
8 p.m., Riverbend Music Center
The Cincinnati Pops will play patriotic favorites, accompanied by the May Festival Chorus and the USO Show Troupe. Tickets are $15-35; ticketholders can visit Coney Island for free on July 4 (excluding Sunlite Pool).

Local musicians opening Northside Sound Factory this weekend

The papered-up windows of 4172 Hamilton Ave. don’t look like much now, but on June 13 Northside Sound Factory will open its doors at the storefront. Local musicians Clinton Vearil and Josh Pilot, formerly of The KillTones, wanted to bring affordable instruments and accessories and vintage pieces to the neighborhood.
“The area is growing rapidly, and we felt it’s something the town could really use,” Pilot says. “There are lots of musicians in Northside, so we knew it was something the community could use and appreciate.”
The space used to be a restaurant but has been remodeled to fit a musician’s every need. One of the two restrooms was soundproofed and will be a testing station for instruments, where customers can set up an amp or drum set to try it out.
Vearil and Pilot will sell new and used musical instruments and accessories as well as unique and interesting pieces the two have been collecting. In the next few weeks, Northside Sound Factory will also begin offering a consignment service for instruments. Besides instruments, the shop will also offer an instrument repair service and lessons.
Shortly after opening, the shop will offer a delivery service for bands and musicians who are ready to start their set and either forgot something or are in need of a replacement string, pick or strap.
“With Northside Tavern right across the street, a bartender will be able to call our delivery number and we’ll bring over whatever the bands need,” Pilot says. “It won’t be a huge thing for the shop, but we really want to help musicians as well as help the surrounding music scene.”  
Pilot says they also plan to donate instruments to a number of schools and other organizations that help kids get into music. The guys already have a number of guitars to donate and are looking for other instruments as well.
“Music has been such a great thing in our lives, and we want any kid who wants to learn to have that ability,” he says.
Northside Sound Factory will be open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, but the shop will open at noon on June 13. The grand opening event will include music from The Good Morning Heartaches, Betsy Ross and The All Seeing Eyes featuring Johnny Walker. The bands will play in the alley next to the shop, and Lyric food truck will be set up on Hamilton Avenue. 

Local and organic burger/milkshake bar coming to Northside

Tickle Pickle burgers-and-milkshake café and catering company will open in Northside later this summer. Owner Sarah Cole originally thought about moving her other catering company, Sarelli’s Catering, from Newport to Northside, but when she purchased the building at 4176 Hamilton Ave. she decided to start a new business instead.
“I grew up in Clifton but moved to Northern Kentucky when my kids started school,” Cole says. “As soon as I saw a chance to buy something in Northside and be in Cincinnati again, I jumped at the chance. We come to Clifton all the time and want my kids to know the beautiful diversity (in the city of Cincinnati) that Northern Kentucky doesn’t always have.”
Tickle Pickle will be a fast-casual restaurant offering organic milkshakes that cater to dietary restrictions, including gluten-free and vegan. And Cole is trying to keep her food as local as possible.
“At Sarelli’s we’re really into organic, non-GMO foods and being conscious about what we put into our bodies,” she says. “We try to buy local, but a lot of the time companies can’t provide enough to support Sarelli’s. But Tickle Pickle will have a smaller menu, and it will be much easier to do that here.”
Organic milk will come from Snowville Creamery, chicken from Gerber Honest Hatchery Chicken Farms, no-preservative pretzel buns from Hot Pretzel in Northern Kentucky and vegan and whole-wheat buns from Sixteen Bricks Bread. Cole is working with Tiny Footprint Distribution, which is Green BEAN Delivery’s wholesale side, and Findlay Market as well as Northside Meat.
“I want to give Northside and the surrounding neighborhoods my money, keeping the food as local as possible and as organic as possible,” she says.
The 2,000-square-foot space was already outfitted with a kitchen, but Cole is renovating the building’s dining area and storefront. She’s working with the American Sign Museum to create an awesome Tickle Pickle sign and plans to use reclaimed wood and recyclable items when remodeling.
The catering side of Tickle Pickle will open June 8. The restaurant is able to cater business lunches and meetings for groups of 15 or more.
Tickle Pickle is also hiring, so if you’re interested send your resume to sarah@ticklepicklenorthside.com.

Homebrewer expands palette to kombucha brewing, to move in with Urban Artifact

Algis Aukstuolis began experimenting with fermentation about 10 years ago when he first started homebrewing. A few years ago, his wife purchased a bottle of kombucha at Whole Foods, and Aukstuolis decided he could find a way to make the probiotic-heavy fermented tea less tart and sell it as Skinny Piggy Kombucha.
“Kombucha fermentation is very similar to beer,” he says. “With beer you need to extract the sugar from grain, but kombucha is more like making sweet tea and focusing on steeping it correctly.”
Skinny Piggy currently operates out of the Northern Kentucky Incubator Kitchen in Covington, and Aukstuolis brews about once per month but bottles more frequently. He has plans to expand the business and move into the same building as Urban Artifact in Northside.
“I met with a number of breweries, but Urban Artifact seemed like a good fit because they specialize in wild yeast and tart beers,” Aukstuolis says.
Skinny Piggy's Kickstarter campaign ends on Monday, June 1, and Aukstuolis has already reached his $10,000 goal. Funds from the Kickstarter will go toward a larger brewing system and bottling equipment.
Skinny Piggy is an original tea blend that makes the drink less tart. In a few weeks, Aukstuolis will have his first flavored kombucha: lavender. Once he’s expanded production, he plans to add more flavors.
“I think Cincinnati deserves its own kombucha,” Aukstuolis says. “There are a number of styles coming from California, but Cincinnati has its own specific taste. I want to cater to that taste as well as help encourage healthy drinking lifestyles.”
Bottles of Skinny Piggy are currently available at The Gruff in Covington, Happy Belly on Vine and the Hyde Park Remke. It’s also available on draft at Urban Artifact. Once the Kickstarter campaign ends, he and a distributor will begin working to get the drink in Whole Foods stores.

Bike Month promotes bicycle safety, healthy lifestyles

The tristate area is increasingly becoming more bike-friendly, with new bicycle lanes in many neighborhoods and Red Bike locations throughout the city, with expansion coming soon. May is Bike Month, a time to reconsider healthy lifestyles and the use of bicycles as transportation.
Bike Month is organized by Queen City Bike, but a number of local organizations and businesses offer bike-related deals, lead bike rides and host events throughout the month. Things kicked off May 1 with a poster show at Coffee Emporium that runs through May 26; and on May 2, a ride to various pubs in the basin area.

If you missed these events, though, don’t worry. There are plenty more coming up — 21 below, to be exact.

Bicycle Happy Hour at The Brew House, 1047 E. McMillan, Walnut Hills: Ride your bike to The Brew House and, if you’re wearing a helmet, get a free appetizer during happy hour. May 4, 11 and 18 at 5-8 p.m.

Urban Basin Bicycle Club, meet at Fountain Square: Join the club for a slow, interesting themed ride for all skill levels that begins and ends in the basin. Every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

Hump Day Hill Challenge, meet at greenspace by the old SCPA building in Pendleton/Over-the-Rhine: A difficult ride up and down Cincinnati’s hills. To check out the routes, use the Hill Challenge App in the Google Play Store. Every Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Thursday Night Slow & Steady Ride, meet at Hoffner Park, Northside: These rides are open to anything with wheels and take about 1.5 to 2 hours. Every Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

Eastside to Findlay Market Ride, meet at Coffee Emporium, 3316 Erie Ave., Hyde Park. Every Saturday at 8:30 a.m.

Findlay Market Bikegarten, Findlay Market, OTR: Learn more about the bike-friendly changes that are coming to the city, pick up free bike maps and lots more. Every Saturday at 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Ride for Reading, meet at Coffee Emporium Warehouse, 12th and Walnut Streets, OTR: Join in the bike parade, then distribute books to students at Chase Elementary in Northside. May 8 at 10 a.m.

The Color Ride, meet at Washington Park: Grab the kids and dress in a single color from head-to-toe and take a short ride through OTR and downtown. May 9 at 4 p.m.

Element Cycles City Ride, meet at Element Cycles, 2838 Observatory Ave., Hyde Park: This casual ride will end at the Growler House in East Walnut Hills. May 9 at 4 p.m.

Bike Happy Hour, Fries Café, 3247 Jefferson Ave., Clifton. May 12 at 5-7 p.m.

Trivia Fundraiser for Mobo, The Brew House, 1047 E. McMillan, Walnut Hills. May 13 at 7:30 p.m.

Breakfast on the Bridge, Purple People Bridge on the Newport side: Pastries and coffee will be available, and there will also be a station set up with a mechanic to help you fix up your bike. May 15 at 7-9 a.m.

Bike to Work Day: All rides are free on Metro, Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK) and Clermont Transportation Connection for those with bicycles. All day May 15.

Bike to Work Day Celebration, MainStrasse, Covington: Rides will be led to Fountain Square and back. May 15 at 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Bike 2 Baseball: Ride to Great American Ball Park for the sixth annual event. A free bike valet will be available, hosted by Red Bike. Tickets must be bought in advance. May 17 at 1 p.m.

Second Annual Preservation Ride, meet at Rhinegeist, 1910 Elm St., OTR: The Cincinnati Preservation Collective is celebrating Bike Month by hosting a slow riding tour of some of the urban basin’s historic sites. May 17 at noon.

Trivia Fundraiser for Queen City Bike, The Brew House, 1047 E. McMillan, Walnut Hills. May 20 at 7:30 p.m.

The Pink Flamingo Bike Ride: Ride from Covington to Bellevue Beach for this family-friendly event that touts Northern Kentucky pride. May 30 at 10 a.m.

Queen City Bike+Dine: Email info@parkandvine.com for more information about the 10th annual event on June 6.
There will also be three Blinkie Light Distributions throughout the month:

• Kenton County Health Center, 2022 Madison Ave., Covington, May 10 at 3 p.m.
• Campbell County Health Center, 1098 Monmouth St., Newport, May 17 at 3 p.m.
• Boone County Health Center, 7505 Burlington Pike, Florence, May 24 at 3 p.m.
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