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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.
 

Third annual Taste of OTR adds new experiences, "best of" contest


Tender Mercies will host its third annual Taste of OTR event Aug. 29 in Washington Park, with a lot more in store for foodies this year. The event showcases craft beer, local restaurants and food trucks as well as the art, music and shopping in Over-the-Rhine.
 
Tender Mercies created the Taste of OTR in 2013 as a way to contribute to OTR’s culture and its future. The nonprofit serves homeless adults with mental illness, and each year more than 200 men and women benefit from Tender Mercies’ programming and support.
 
“Taste of OTR has quickly become popular and is now a must-attend summer event,” says Jackie Baumgartner, development director at Tender Mercies. “The event is a celbration of Over-the-Rhine’s growth, vibrancy and cultural engagement. It’s a popular celebration of the continued revitalization of the neighborhood that we’re proud to be a part of.”
 
About 25 local and OTR restaurants will be featured at Taste of OTR, and drinks will be provided by Rhinegeist, Angry Orchard and Sam Adams. There will also be live music, with Sphynx as the headliner. Food truck alley will be set up on 14th Street with a number of Cincinnati favorites represented.
 
Taste of OTR is scheduled for 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Aug. 29 with free admission, and tastings ranging from $1 to $6. New this year are separate VIP tickets, limited to only 200 guests. The VIP experience will allow guests to enjoy Taste in a more private setting with special tastings throughout the day.
 
Also new this year is a “Best of Taste” contest, with the featured restaurants competing to be named a crowd favorite. Winners in each category will be recognized at the event and awarded a plaque to display in their restaurant.
 
“Our hope is that with continued growth Taste will bring unity and an increased cultural understanding and awareness of how many homeless are in need in Cincinnati,” Baumgartner says. “Taste shows the city that Over-the-Rhine is welcoming, engaging and a vibrant place to live, play and work that also helps those with nowhere else to turn.”
 
VIP tickets are $50 in advance and $60 at the door; drink tickets are included in the ticket price. To purchase VIP tickets and for restaurant information, visit the Taste of OTR website.
 

Findlay Market, community stakeholders plan for pedestrian-friendly Pleasant Street


A number of community stakeholders are exploring different options for a pedestrian-friendly walkway that would link Washington Park and Findlay Market in Over-the-Rhine. Two events have been held to gather community input and demonstrate options, with suggestions including seating, lighting, a playground, murals, interactive art, food trucks and musical installations.
 
Pleasant Street, which is parallel to and between Elm and Race streets and crosses Liberty Street, runs north/south from Findlay Market to Washington Park. Right now there are crosswalks, but the area isn’t heavily traveled by pedestrians or bicyclists. With the increased focus on development in and around Findlay Market, a pedestrian walkway would only add to the sense of community the neighborhood is attracting.
 
A community block party was held June 5 to start the conversation and get community members involved in the planning process. A follow-up event was held July 11 to showcase some of the improvements and designs that were developed by UC’s MetroLab with help from other planning, public art and ethics classes.
 
An ongoing public art project entitled “Alternate Steps” was installed, which follows the proposed walking path. The installation combines interviews with community members and photos of their feet, which were placed along the street to create a “walking path” of stories.
 
Another addition to the area is the Field of Greens, a wiffleball field in the 1500 block of Pleasant. It’s also serving as a working garden that will operate alongside Findlay Market’s production gardens and help supplement what’s produced there.
 
Seats made from old tires have been added along the path, and MetroLab has also designed an outdoor kitchen made from recycled plastic baskets that will be installed soon.
 
The ultimate goal is close Pleasant Street to cars at least some of the time. Elder Street, which borders Findlay Market on one side, is closed to cars during market hours and reopens after market hours. Closing Pleasant wouldn’t be tied to market hours, though — the idea is to make the area a safe, friendly place for pedestrians and bicyclists.
 
Join the conversation: What do you want to see on Pleasant Street?
 

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.
 

Ohio announces recipients of state historic tax credits, including six Cincinnati projects


Six Cincinnati projects recently received $7.1 million in Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits. Statewide, 19 projects were chosen to receive funding, totaling more than $27.5 million. The projects range from new apartments to commercial space and are expected to leverage about $280 million in private investment.
 
512 E. 12th St.
Total cost: $700,000; tax credit funds: $76,800
Two Over-the-Rhine residents acquired the building from OTR A.D.O.P.T. and plan to renovate it into seven one-bedroom market-rate apartments.
 
Abington Flats, 33 Green St.
Total cost: $4,855,059; tax credit funds: $482,999
The four-story, 105-year-old building near Findlay Market will be converted into 18 fully accessible apartments and one commercial storefront. Cornerstone Corporation for Shared Equity, Model Group and 3CDC are partnering on the project.
 
Baldwin Piano Company, 655 Eden Park Dr.
Total cost: $39,233,265; tax credit funds: $4,840,000
The eight-story building served as the home of the Baldwin Piano Company until it was converted into offices in 1987. Neyer Properties plans to rehab it into 176 market-rate apartments.
 
Market Square A, 1808-10 Race St.
Total cost: $2,585,377; tax credit funds: $249,999
As part of the larger Market Square development near Findlay Market, the two buildings are over 11,000 square feet. Model Group plans to rehab the space into nine apartments and about 1,500 square feet of commercial space.
 
Market Square B, 101 W. Elder St. and 1812 Race St.
Total cost: $2,568,088; tax credit funds: $249,999
Another part of the Market Square development, the building at 1812 Race and the John and Henry Kruse Dry Goods and Notions Building at 101 W. Elder will become nine apartments and just over 1,500 square feet of commercial space.
 
Merchants Building, 34 W. Sixth St.
Total cost: $9,921,186; tax credit funds: $982,295
Ashley Commercial Group plans to turn the 103-year-old building into 62 market-rate apartments with first-floor commercial space.
 
Warner Brothers Pictures Building, 1600 Central Parkway
Total cost: $1,310,665; tax credit funds: $184,000
Built in 1940, the building has been vacant for a number of years. Grandin Properties has acquired the property and plans to convert it into office space.
 

Local vintage outfits host popup shop at Brick OTR during All Star Game week


Two local vintage stores, Flying V Vintage and Mike’s Vintage Toys and Collectibles, will host a popup shop at Brick OTR during All Star Game week. The shop will be open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. July 13-14 to sell items from the ’80s and ’90s.
 
Up to this point, both operations have sold exclusively online and through direct sales models. Jason Helferich, owner of Flying V Vintage, says the popup shop is an experiment in the feasibility of having a permanent brick-and-mortar store in the future.
 
“Both myself and Mike Patterson (owner of Mike’s Vintage Toys and Collectibles) were looking for a way to engage customers in an offline setting and generate awareness of our businesses and the type of products we sell,” Helferich says.
 
The popup will feature vintage sports apparel such as T-shirts, jackets, jerseys and snapback hats, with an emphasis on baseball apparel since it’s All Star weekend.
 
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Real Ghostbusters, GI Joe, WWF and WCW action figures and toy playsets will also be available for sale. Helferich says that the most desirable items might be be a Chalk Line Chris Sabo Fanimation jacket and the original prototype toys from the ’90s Jim Carrey The Mask animated series toy line. Items will range from $10 to $150.
 
“We hope to bring something unique and different to the weekend,” Helferich says. “We know that many are fond of the ’80s and ’90s, and I’m sure they will find something they remember or had as a kid. From the unique merchandise to the limited engagement, this isn’t something you see every day.”
 

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).
 

Kenwood-based bakery to open location in OTR


Lisa Ebbert comes from a long line of bakers, and the success of her homemade cupcakes led her to open 3 Sweet Girls Cakery in Kenwood in 2012. In mid-July she and her two daughters, Kristen and Lauren, will open their second location at 29 E. 12th St. in Over-the-Rhine.
 
Over the past few years, the bakery has had customers come out to the Kenwood location from downtown to pick up sweets for parties and meetings. It seemed like a logical next step to take the bakery closer to those customers.
 
“We’re very excited to see the growth downtown and want to be part of it,” Ebbert says. “We love Over-the-Rhine, the people and the energy and diversity of the neighborhood.”
 
Ebbert and her daughters are currently renovating the 500-square-foot space to be a mini version of their Kenwood location, with turquoise and pink walls and a whimsical mural. The OTR location is considerably smaller than the original and doesn’t have a kitchen, so they will be bringing everything to OTR from the main bakery.
 
3 Sweet Girls will offer a daily selection of eight cupcake flavors and about 15 flavors of cake pops, including their specialty Flying Pig Cake Pops. The bakery will also have custom decorated cookies, chocolate pretzels and Oreos, cake push-ups and cupcakes in a jar as well as homemade dog treats and pup cakes.
 
“We hope to bring a fun, creative energy to Over-the-Rhine and hope to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth and bring a little joy to people’s days,” Ebbert says.
 
The Ebberts are currently hoping to be open before the July 14 All Star Game and plan to have a variety of baseball-themed treats.
 

In-fill townhouse development is Towne's first OTR residential project


Towne Properties is working on its first townhouse project in Over-the-Rhine. The development will sit on half an acre along the streetcar route at the northwest corner of 15th and Elm streets.
 
The seven townhomes will be 2,800 square feet, each with a 900-square-foot, partially finished basement. Three-bedroom units will also have two-car detached garages and private backyards, which are hard to come by in OTR, and will be priced at $650,000.
 
The townhomes will have a similar look and feel to Towne’s Beacon Hill condo development in Deerfield Township, which was designed after neighborhoods in Boston.  

"This is a very unique product in that we're using high-end, long-lasting materials that will stand the test of time," says Towne's Chad Munitz.

He also says that the units will be about 25 feet wide, when typical townhouses and condos in OTR are about 17 feet wide.
 
As part of the project, Towne is also redeveloping the existing building at 1517 Elm St. into first-floor retail space with two condos above. New Republic is the architect for the rehabilitation portion of the project, and PDT Architects is working on the townhouses.
 
Towne took the plans before the Historic Conservation Board meeting on June 8 for a preliminary design review to gather feedback. The plans were well received, and after a few tweaks Towne will bring them back to the board in several weeks to get approval for construction.

Towne will also approach the city to have the land rezoned from commercial property to single-family.
 
If things go according to plan, construction will start on the project in July and could be completed by next spring.
 

Retail collective coming to Main Street June 14


A new retail collective will open at 1300 Main St. in Over-the-Rhine on June 14, which is also this summer’s first Second Sunday on Main. Goods on Main will feature merchandise from national brands as well as locally made products.
 
Originally, Frameshop owners Jake Baker and Jake Gerth planned to open Workshop at the location. A larger space opened up in Walnut Hills, but they had already rented the space in OTR. The business partners decided that something else needed to go there.
 
“We’re hoping to bring more of a critical mass of retail to Main Street,” says Pat Feghali, local attorney and co-owner of Goods. "Right now lots of people go to Vine street to shop, but by opening Goods we’re hoping to make Main Street a stronger retail destination.”
 
The 1,500-square-foot, first-floor retail space will be split in two, with the front half devoted to Goods. The rest of the space will be used for more of a gathering area for special events like Final Friday and Second Sunday on Main. Feghali says they plan to devote the entire space to Goods in the future.
 
The merchandise available at Goods will center around a theme and change several times throughout the year.
 
When it opens, the theme will be "adventure.” Feghali says this could mean a camping adventure or something more outside of the box like a culinary adventure. Items available will range from bicycles and mopeds to camping gear and hot sauce.
 
Along with Feghali, Goods is owned and operated by OTR entrepreneurs Duru Armagon, owner of Sloane Boutique; Adam Atallah; Carl Hunt; and Micah Paladino, CEO of PB&J.
 
Goods’ hours aren’t set in stone yet, but the storefront will be open Thursday through Sunday.
 

Second Sunday on Main returns June 14 to celebrate festival's 10th year


Since its inception 10 years ago, Second Sunday on Main has grown from a small event featuring condo tours to a blocks-long festival with food trucks, live music, vendors and artists. The free event is held on the second Sunday of each month June through October along Main Street between 12th and Liberty streets, with the first 2015 event on June 14.
 
“Second Sunday is unique because it changes and grows with the neighborhood,” says Caitlin Behle, the current organizer of SSOM. “When the festival launched in 2005 as a weekly event, Main Street looked very different. At a time when people were reluctant to visit OTR, the Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce started Second Sunday as an opportunity to bring people to the street on Sunday afternoons and showcase the area as a diverse, safe and welcoming place.”
 
This year, SSOM is partnering with the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati to add an area for kids. The YMCA Kids Square will offer free hands-on activities and crafts for kids programmed by the YMCA. Other community organizations will be present as well, including the Peaslee Neighborhood Center and the Art Academy of Cincinnati’s Community Education division.
 
Findlay Market will host the Celebrity Chef series, which will feature a free chef demo at Mr. Pitiful’s. Traditionally, the series has invited visitors to a drink pairing and chef demo by one of more local chefs, where guests are given the recipe for the dishes and drinks.
 
“By collaborating with Findlay Market, we’re able to celebrate what is unique and best about the market’s community, local crops, ethnic traditions and creative chefs,” Behle says.
 
To celebrate its 10th year, SSOM is going back to its roots to revisit monthly themes from the past decade. June’s theme is Dog Days and will feature a contest for Best Trick, Best Costume, Cutest Dog and Best Owner/Dog Look-a-Like as well as a parade and Dog Photo Booth hosted by Save the Animals.
 
The June event also includes a performance by Us, Today at 2 p.m. at the MOTR Stage and a cooking demo by Bryn Mooth, author of the Findlay Market Cookbook, and Katie Zaidan of Mediterranean Imports at 2:30 p.m.
 
There will also be beer ambassadors pouring at the Cincinnati Sports League’s Beer Garden on behalf of different nonprofits or community groups each month. June’s ambassadors are the Cincinnati Young Black Professionals. Food trucks Bistro de Mohr, Dojo Gelato, Empanadas Aqui, Fireside Pizza and Hungry Brothers will be at SSOM areas to supplement the 30 participating bars, restaurants, shops and galleries and 80 artists and vendors.

The remaining 2015 SSOMs are “Pride” July 12, “EcoMAINia” Aug. 9, “Dance on Main” Sept. 13 and “Foodie Finale” Oct. 11.
 
“As OTR continues to grow, Second Sunday will continue to define itself as a community-driven festival,” Behle says. “I love that Second Sunday was, and continues to be, built by the neighborhood. It’s largely volunteer-run by residents and business owners and changes and adapts in response to the community’s needs.”
 

OTR continues to introduce new retail and food/drink options


The Over-the-Rhine economy continues to boom, with new street-level businesses opening every week. Entities like 3CDC, The Model Group, Urban Sites and Over-the-Rhine Community Housing have helped spur much of the residential development in the neighborhood, and the influx of residents has led to a demand for more retail and eateries.
 
A number of new storefronts have opened recently, with several restaurants coming on-line soon to add to the area’s eclectic and diverse options. Here's a quick roundup:
 
Continuum, 1407 Vine St.
DAAP grad Erica Leighton-Spradlin opened Continuum on May 8. She curates home décor, gifts and women’s clothing items that are designed by local artists.
 
Elm & Iron, 1326 Vine St.
Columbus-based Elm & Iron opened its first Cincinnati location on May 13. The store sells a mix of new and vintage industrial home décor pieces and accessories.
 
Idlewild Woman, 1232 Vine St.
Article's sister store Idlewild Woman opened on May 16. The shop features clothing and one-of-a-kind home accessories exclusively for women.
 
Kit and Ace, 1405 Vine St.
Created by the family of Lululemon Athletica’s founder, Kit and Ace focuses on luxury clothing. The OTR store will be the company’s third U.S. location, with the others in NYC and San Francisco. It's expected to open June 5.

Low Spark, 15 W. 14th St.
The overall concept and opening date are still under wraps for this tiny bar from the 4EG folks, but keep a tab on its Facebook page for updates.
 
16-Bit Bar+Arcade, 1331 Walnut St.
Stepping into 16-Bit Bar+Arcade promises to be like a blast from the past, with arcade games, music and drinks straight out of the ‘80s and ‘90s. Work at the site is ongoing, and owner Troy Allen is shooting for an early summer opening.
 
TBA, 1429 Walnut St.
An as-yet-to-be-announced restaurant concept from the owners of Cheapside Café and The Rookwood.
 

Second annual Quest for the Queen provides participants a day of adventure


In its second year, Quest for the Queen will lead participants on an “Amazing Race” of sorts through Cincinnati May 23. Teams of two compete for a prize, but they can’t use cars, smart phones, the Internet or navigation systems to get from Point A to Point B.
 
At the beginning of the event, participants are given a stack of riddles that will direct them to different local landmarks and small businesses. Teams can choose how they want to tackle the clues and can visit the landmarks in any order. Teams have to snap a photo at each stop to prove they were there.
 
Since teams can’t use their phones to look up an answer to a clue, Quest for the Queen forces people to interact with strangers to figure out where to go next.
 
“We were pretty ambitious last year as to how much people could do,” says John Klinger, who organizes the event with friend Matt Feldhaus. “The winners finished in seven-and-a-half hours, and when everyone arrived at the end location at Rhinegeist they were exhausted. There were a few too many checkpoints, and they were too spread out.”
 
This year’s event will cover less mileage and fewer checkpoints. There will also be two different routes — one for bicyclists and one for walkers or bus riders. Everyone had the same route last year, and those not on bikes weren’t competitive. The checkpoints and riddles will be different between bikers and non-bikers.
 
“This event gives people a way to see the city in a new light,” Klinger says. “When you live somewhere, you often forget about its little quirks. You get in your habits and you forget about things that are there, but you don’t usually do them.”
 
The event starts between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 23 at Washington Park. The checkpoints will be spread across different neighborhoods but stay within Cincinnati city limits, so participants won’t be crossing over into Northern Kentucky or visiting the suburbs.
 
The cost is $30 per person, and 100 percent of the money goes back to funding the event. Dinner is provided at the end of the race, and participants receive Metro passes so they can ride the bus between locations if they wish. Each team member also gets a Quest for the Queen T-shirt, and the winners receive a prize, which hasn’t been announced yet.
 
The deadline to sign up is May 18. Visit questforthequeen.webs.com to register for the race, or send an email to questforthequeen@gmail.com for more information.  
 

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.
 

Cincy Stories events help break down barriers, create empathy


MOTR Pub will host the second night of the Cincy Stories series on Tuesday, May 5, to continue breaking down walls and helping create a safe place for people to share and hear the stories of fellow Cincinnatians.
 
Shawn Braley and a group of his friends started Cincy Stories because of how hard it is to get to know people in a large city.
 
“You might meet someone in a bar and get to talking, but it’s hard to know their story,” Braley says. “We wanted to bring something like the podcasts we listen to to Cincinnati, where even the boring stories can be exciting.”
 
Cincy Stories invites public figures to share their stories, which helps the audience see them as human beings rather than just a prominent figure, politician or entrepreneur. The first Cincy Stories event in February featured Ryan Messer, a community leader in Over-the-Rhine; Chris Seelbach, the first openly gay politician elected to the Cincinnati City Council; and Molly Wellmann of Wellmann’s Brands.
 
Everyone’s story is different and range from heartbreaking to beautiful to funny. Braley says the events don’t have an overarching theme, but he likes the idea of each event being open and seeing where people go with their stories.
 
“As an English major, I read a lot of fiction and nonfiction, which I think made me a more empathetic person,” he says. “The stories taught me empathy, and I hope these events help create more empathy in people and show that there is something deeper beneath the surface in all of us.”

Cincy Stories fits in well with Cincinnati's growing interest in storytelling, a trend that's popular in major cities across the country. Comedian/performer Paul Strickland holds regular storytelling workshops at Know Theatre, which has also hosted True Theatre's storytelling nights for several years. The Cincinnati Enquirer is doing its own storytelling events. And this week the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati is hosting local nonprofit leaders to tell the stories of how they decided to “change the world.”
 
Guest speakers for the May 5 event (beginning at 7 p.m.) include Joe Boyd of Rebel Storytellers; John Faherty, who organizes The Enquirer's storytelling events; Kathryne Gardette, who recently was honored as an Enquirer Woman of the Year; Allen Woods of MORTAR; and writer and teacher Elissa Yancey. Music will be provided by the band The Part-Time Gentlemen.
 
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