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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.
 
Che!
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.
 
Catch-A-Fire
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.
 

Mayday space in Northside becoming restaurant and live music venue


The Northside staple Mayday, which was a craft beer and whiskey bar, closed at the end of last year. But musicians Stuart MacKenzie and Jon Weiner — both with backgrounds at Molly Wellmann's bars — purchased the building and plan to turn it into a restaurant and live music venue.
 
The 4,000-square-foot space will reopen in June under the name Northside Yacht Club. Although it’s not near water, the building had flood waters up to the third floor during the flood of 1937, when it was the Northside Electric Company (see photo above).
 
MacKenzie, who has played in the bands like the Cincinnati Royals, DAAP Girls and Lions Rampant, and Weiner, who has been in the Cincinnati Royals and Dopamines, want to host a steady schedule of live music. The pair plans to bring in national, regional and local acts throughout the week, and most shows won’t have a cover charge.
 
Chef Ryan Whitcomb, most recently of Nuvo and Local 127, is working on a menu that features smoked wings with housemade sauces and poutine as well as a smoked vegetarian option.
 
The bar menu will feature cocktails made with rum and bourbon as well as local craft beer. There are also plans for an outdoor bar, which would be added to the building’s existing outdoor patio.
 

Northside organization working to provide more single-family housing


Cincinnati Northside Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation recently changed its name to Northsiders Engaged in Sustainable Transformation to more accurately reflect the organization’s goal to develop single-family homes in the neighborhood. To date, CNCURC/NEST has created 17 single-family houses, including new ones at 4118 Lakeman St. and 1726 Hanfield St.
 
“Research indicates that homeowners have greater investment in their property and are more likely to maintain and stay in their homes,” says Stefanie Sunderland, executive director of CNCURC/NEST. “Homeowners will potentially become more involved in the community and support the local economy by patronizing local businesses.”
 
A healthy neighborhood should provide housing for all, including rental units, so CNCURC/NEST focuses on single-family houses that were built by members of the community but time, disinvestment and abandonment have left them in disrepair. Many of the houses CNCURC/NEST has reclaimed were slated for demolition.
 
CNCURC/NEST acquired the house at 4118 Lakeman, which was built in 1873, from Bill Dorward and his sister, Deborah. Meanwhile, 1726 Hanfield, which was built in 1921, is the first building CNCURC/NEST has acquired through the Port of Greater Cincinnati.
 
Construction began on both houses last spring and will be completed in the next few weeks. The house on Hanfield has already been sold, and the one on Lakeman is still for sale.
 
Both houses were redeveloped creatively and for use of space, with an emphasis on preservation and restoration. CNCURC/NEST also focuses on duplicating historic architecture and features as well as energy efficiency.
 
The 1,243-square-foot house on Lakeman now has a new front porch, woodwork, windows and doors as well as matching gables on the second-story addition. The 1,071-square-foot Hanfield house has a visitable first floor and was designed to be an accessible unit.
 
Over the next month or so, CNCURC/NEST will break ground on two new-construction houses at 4135-37 Witler St. and 1720-22 Hanfield as part of the Blockwatch 45223 Homeownership Project. Three sources of funding are required to complete the project, including NSP funding through the City of Cincinnati, a revolving construction loan from the Cincinnati Development Fund and general funds from CNCURC/NEST.
 
Sunderland says they’re also waiting to hear if their NOFA application for gap financing for the development of five single-family houses for the Fergus Street Homeownership Project has been approved. This project includes the rehab of four single-family houses, three of which are currently owned by and land-banked with the Port Authority, as well as one new construction on a lot owned by CNCURC/NEST. 
 

Revisiting recently opened and still-to-come restaurants


Over the past several months, the Soapbox Development News section has covered a large number of restaurants and breweries planning to open all over the region. We thought it was time to provide updates on these new businesses as well as when you can hope to visit those that aren’t quite ready to launch yet. (Links go to our original Development News coverage of each business.)
 
Arcade Legacy
3929 Spring Grove Ave., Northside
The bar and vintage arcade concept plans to open its doors in April.
 
Braxton Brewing
27 W. Seventh St., Covington
The grand opening is at 5 p.m. March 27. There will be four beers on tap, including their flagship Storm Golden Cream Ale and Juniper Hoppy Wheat Ale. Neltner Small Batch will reveal their largest indoor installation, two local bands will be playing, and guests will be able to tour the brewery.
 
Brezel
6 W. 14th St., OTR
The Columbus-based pretzel shop opened its second location in September, offering everything from your traditional salted pretzel to more unique, seasonal creations. Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday & Wednesday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.
 
E+O Kitchen
3520 Edwards Road, Hyde Park
The Asian restaurant, opening in the former Dancing Wasabi space, doesn’t have a grand opening timeline.
 
The Gruff
129 E. Second St., Covington
The grocer, deli and brick oven pizza restaurant opened on Jan. 14. Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday & Saturday.
 
Krueger’s Tavern
1211 Vine St., OTR
The owners of the Bakersfield and The Eagle opened the American-style restaurant, which is known for its house-made sausages and 100 cans of beer, in December. Hours: 4 p.m.-midnight Monday-Thursday, 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday & Saturday.
 
Macaron Bar
1206 Main St., OTR
The city's only bakery dedicated to macarons opened Dec. 12. Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.
 
O Pie O
DeSales Corner, Walnut Hills
The sweet and savory pie shop is shooting to open in May. Until then, their pies are available each weekend at Findlay Market.
 
Off the Vine
1218 Vine St., OTR
The cold-pressed juice bar opened Nov. 17, offering to-go juices and take-home cleanses. Hours: 7 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekends.
 
Revolution Rotisserie & Bar
1106 Race St., OTR
Featuring free range chicken and all-American sides, the restaurant opened March 2. Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday & Saturday.
 
Tap & Screw Brewery
5060 Crookshank Road, Westwood
The Westside restaurant changed its name, revamped its menu and added a brewery, reopening Dec. 19. Hours: 11 a.m.-2:30 a.m. Monday-Sunday.
 
Tillie’s Lounge
4042 Hamilton Ave., Northside
The turn-of-the-century bar’s grand opening is set for March 19. Hours: 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Thursday-Sunday.
 
World Cup
4023 Hamilton Ave., Northside
Owner Alex Kuhns is working with new partners on his sports-themed international restaurant. He plans to open by the end of the year, but an exact date remains up in the air.
 
Zinomobile
The food truck that will serve dishes from the former Cincinnati favorite Zino’s is still finalizing locations where it will serve and could possibly open a brick-and-mortar space, too.
 

Picnic and Pantry opening second location in OTR, focusing on catering in Northside


Picnic and Pantry, a Northside staple for the past five years, will no longer serve as the neighborhood’s specialty grocery store. Instead, the location on Hamilton Avenue will become the headquarters for owner Lisa Kagen’s catering business, while a new retail location will open in three weeks at 1400 Republic St. in Over-the-Rhine.
 
“We love cooking food, but trying to keep up with the retail part is distracting us from our catering goals and the lunch crowd we plan to serve downtown,” Kagen says.

Over-the-Rhine Community Housing (OTRCH) and restaurant owner Thunderdome approached Kagen about bringing a storefront to OTR, specifically to the building being rehabbing at 14th and Republic across from Salazar Restaurant & Bar. The 770-square-foot OTR store will be menu-driven, with a variety of grocery essentials and pet food as well as specialty, artisan, local, organic and conventional foods.

All of the packaged sandwiches, salads and snacks that Northside customers have grown to know and love will still be available at Melt Cafe.
 
As for the Northside storefront, it will become Picnic and Pantry’s office and expanded commissary to accommodate the growth of the catering side of the business. It will be a place to meet clients and showcase pictures, platters and linens, Kagen says.
 
Picnic and Pantry’s handcrafted counter and two registers will be moved to Melt to better serve customers during the checkout process.
 
“We love Northside, and that’s why we’re centering our business operations here,” Kagen says. “We’re committed to supporting the historic business district.”

Kagen is working with students from Miami University, OTRCH and Acanthus Group, the general contractor, to get the store up and running by mid-March.
 

Former homebrewers bringing something unique to Northside


An old white barn sitting on several acres next to Spring Grove Cemetery will soon be home to Cincinnati’s newest alcohol-based venture, Northside Distilling Co. The distillery will start on a small scale but will eventually distribute to Cincinnati bars and restaurants, starting with Northside first of course.
 
Co-founders Chris Leonidas and Josh Koch have dabbled in homebrewing and winemaking for several years, eventually deciding they wanted a new challenge. After researching distilling, they learned there are various outdated Prohibition-era laws that make distilling a tricky business.
 
“It’s 100 percent illegal to make any spirit without the appropriate federal and state permits, which are hard to navigate in the first place,” Leonidas says. “Within a few weeks of receiving my still, I got a letter stating the laws of distilling and the penalties should I break any of these laws. It really lit the fire to keep moving and to get open.”
 
Once open, Northside Distilling will start with a small retail sales area — taprooms and bars are illegal for distilleries. But Leonidas says there are a few Ohio distilleries that are fighting that law and trying to create a system where distilleries can operate a bar or taproom much like a brewery.
 
Retail sales will be during certain hours, and each customer will be allowed to purchase 1.5 liters per day. Customers can sample, but only four quarter-ounce pours per visit.
 
If the law changes, Leonidas plans to build a taproom setup where customers can learn about distilling and taste a variety of spirits.
 
Northside Distill will have two stills — a one-pot still for corn whiskey (moonshine) and rum and a secondary column still to clean vodka to a very smooth, sippable flavor. Its current setup is able to produce about 250 cases per year. Once in production stage, Leonidas’ business plan is to triple capacity within six months, close to 1,000 cases per year.
 
He also plans to bottle some of the corn whiskey in 20-liter barrels to age for a bourbon that will be released at a later date and will also create flavored moonshine for seasonal and mixing drinks.
 
“We hope to bring some attention to Northside,” Leonidas says. “If one person drives down Hamilton Avenue to pick up a bottle of our moonshine, he might come back for dinner or a drink that night. And our way, we helped the neighborhood.”
 
He also hopes that Northside Distilling becomes a place that hosts community events and becomes part of the culture that is Northside.
 
“The history, culture and vibe of the neighborhood have always put it on the cutting edge,” Leonidas says. “Hundreds of years ago, Northside was on the edge of the eastern part of the country and was a place that people set out from to head to the great unknown, the Wild West. There was a mingling of frontiersmen, Native Americans, adventurers and explorers. To this day, Northside keeps a certain attitude about it and has an incredible blend of industrial buildings, residential homes, wild creative art and lively flair.”
 
Stay tuned to Northside Distilling’s Facebook page for news about opening dates and products.
 

Northside chosen to participate in national EPA workshop


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that 22 communities across the country, including Northside, will participate in its Buildings Blocks for Sustainable Communities program. The program gives communities technical assistance in order to pursue development strategies that support small growth and sustainability goals as well as encourage local economic development.
 
EPA staff and national experts will conduct one- to two-day workshops from April to June focusing on the specific sustainability tool that each community requested: Bikeshare Planning, Supporting Equitable Development, Infill Development for Distressed Cities, Sustainable Strategies for Small Cities and Rural Areas, Flood Resilience for Riverine and Coastal Communities.
 
Northside’s workshop will focus on Supporting Equitable Development.
 
“Northside faces a common problem that many communities across the country are facing,” says the U.S. EPA's announcement. “When communities grow and develop using smart growth principles, as we’ve seen Northside successfully do in recent years, existing community members can sometimes be priced out of the local housing market.”
 
The neighborhood is looking to evade this challenge by focusing on development of affordable housing for a range of income levels. The EPA hopes to take the lessons learned in Cincinnati and apply them to other communities that are going through the same types of development challenges.
 
The workshops are held in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Transportation through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. The organizations work together to coordinate investments in housing, transportation and environmental protection.
 
Since 2011, the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program has provided assistance to 130 communities in 40 states. As a result, community groups, local governments and tribal governments have increased their capacity to successfully implement smart growth and sustainable approaches that protect the environment, improve public health, create jobs, expand economic opportunity, prepare for effects of climate change and improve the overall quality of life.
 
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