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Evanston / Norwood : Development News

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Another food truck on the horizon in Cincinnati

John Humphrey’s parents opened the first Zino’s restaurant in 1965 in Norwood, and more were soon to follow in Clifton, Hyde Park, Short Vine, Kenwood Mall, Milford and Walnut Hills. The restaurants closed in the mid-1990s, and now Humphrey plans to bring some of Zino’s menu back to the city with his food truck, Zinomobile.
 
“I grew up working at my parents’ restaurants,” Humphrey says. “My sister and foster brothers worked there too, as well as our friends. It was hard to find someone who didn’t eat at, work at or know someone who worked at Zino’s.”
 
Humphrey, who trained at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, recently purchased the former Taco Azul truck, and will have a Kickstarter campaign to raise a portion of the remaining funds for Zinomobile.
 
The food truck’s menu will feature the Zinover, which is a deep-fried pizza turnover (think deep-fried calzone), filled with cheese, marinara sauce and your choice of ingredients. The rest of the menu will be rounded out with Zino’s originals, but Humphrey says he might eventually tweak a few things.
 
“I want to blend the older generation with the newer generation and bring in different food concepts,” Humphrey says.
 
Humphrey is a member of the Cincinnati Food Truck Association, and says that someday, he might want to expand his food truck and open a restaurant.
 
“I don’t have any idea where I would want to put a restaurant, but it seems to be the natural progression for many food truck owners,” he says. “Compared to 15 years ago, it’s amazing what’s available now.”
 
Zinomobile will be available for private parties, and be looking for the truck at business parks around town, as well as in entertainment hotspots with nightlife in the coming weeks. Humphrey also hopes to be at farmers markets and large events like Bunbury Music Festival; Red, White & Blue Ash; and Taste of Cincinnati.


Read more about Cincinnati's growing food truck scene in 30 Must-Try Cincinnati Food Trucks.

Funds granted to clean up vacant gas stations and auto repair shops

Three area communities were recently awarded Urban Land Assistance Program grants for the redevelopment of vacant and underutilized gas stations and auto repair shops. The Hamilton County Redevelopment Company, the official Economic Development Office for Hamilton County, doles out the ULAP grants.
 
A total of $80,260 was awarded to Norwood, Reading and Golf Manor to redevelop four different sites in the communities.
 
In Reading, an auto repair shop at 100 W. Benson St. will become a green space and parking lot. The City of Reading will soon own the property; the project received $17,790 for the environmental assessment of the property from the ULAP grant.
 
Norwood received $14,100 for the Phase II assessment of 5425 Carthage Ave. to determine the extent of contamination from the abandoned auto repair shop and the adjacent pesticide manufacturer. The City of Norwood also received $30,370 to remove the underground storage tanks at 5300 Section Ave. The city plans to redevelop the former gas station, but can’t until the tanks are removed.
 
Golf Manor wants to clean up an abandoned and condemned building next to the Cincinnati Hebrew Day School. The former oil change business, which is located at 2290 Losantiville Ave., has been vacant since 1998. The $18,000 grant is for asbestos removal, the demolition of what remains of the building and the removal of the asphalt surface. The Jewish Foundation owns the property, and the school plans to redevelop it into a parking lot with landscaping

New mixed-use development in the works near Xavier

Xavier University’s bookstore, Starbucks and Graeter’s are the first retail tenants to sign leases for University Station, a new development near Xavier. The mixed-use project is already under construction.
 
The $54 million, 15-acre development sits along Dana Avenue and Montgomery Road. The first phase is slated to be completed in August, and will include 46,000 square feet of office space, 39,000 square feet of retail space, a 178-unit apartment complex for both Xavier students and the community, plus 1,000 parking spaces.
 
The new bookstore will fill 11,000 square feet of the available retail space, and will include Starbucks and Graeter’s. It will be about twice the size of the current on-campus bookstore, and will sell technology, school supplies, Xavier clothing and gifts.
 
TriHealth and CTI Clinical Trial and Consulting Services will be leasing office space, and the apartment complex is about 93 percent leased.
 
Ackermann Group and Messer Construction Co. are developing University Station. Planning is currently underway for the second phase, and could include more office and retail space, as well as a hotel.

Nourish Yourself offers healthy, home-cooked meals to busy clients

After a 15-year career with P&G, Cherylanne Skolnicki became a certified health coach and started teaching people how to eat better. In January 2011, she started Nourish Yourself, a service that will cook dinner for you.
 
“The concept of a home-cooked meal resonates with busy families,” Skolnicki says. “Clients want to feed their families fresh, healthy, unprocessed, seasonal food, but struggle with the time and skills to cook those meals. We take the guesswork and challenge out of it.”
 
Nourish’s core team has three employees who focus on everything from customer care to menu development to marketing. A team of nine cooking partners go into clients’ homes and make the magic happen, Skolnicki says.
 
Clients are matched with a Nourish cooking partner in their area—they shop for and prepare meals in your kitchen. Meals are prepared all at once, and Nourish even cleans up afterward.
 
Nourish offers flexible pricing that starts at $159 per week plus groceries, and you choose the service date. Nourish’s winter menu is available on its website, with 50 entrée choices, many of which are freezable, plus fresh salad greens and homemade dressing.
 
The menu changes seasonally, but favorites include healthy makeovers of restaurant dishes, such as chicken enchiladas, Thai basil chicken and buffalo chicken meatballs. Skolnicki says both Nourish’s risotto with asparagus and peas and bison burger with Cabernet caramelized onions and white cheddar are also popular.
 
“Busy is the new reality for today’s families,” Skolnicki says. “We hope to make dining in the new normal for busy, health-conscious households. And cooking is one of the aspects of a healthy lifestyle that you can now outsource and still get all of the benefits.”
 
Today, Nourish serves the Greater Cincinnati area and northwest Arkansas (because of P&G employees), but Skolnicki hopes to expand to other markets in 2014.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Cincinnati Children's plans to reopen Harrison health center

The Cincinnati Children’s health center in Harrison, which was operated by Neighborhood Health Care Inc., was one of four locations closed at the end of 2013. But there are plans to reopen the center on a temporary basis until a permanent operator or solution is found.
 
Along with the Harrison location on New Haven Road, the Cincinnati Children’s health centers in Walnut Hills, Norwood and downtown closed after Neighborhood Health failed to receive a federal grant to continue operation. The nonprofit served about 10,000 children and about as many adults, most of whom were uninsured or on Medicaid.
 
Neighborhood Health also ran school-based health centers at Rockdale Academy, South Avondale and Hughes Center; Children’s has agreed to take over service at each of the school-based sites until the end of the current school year. The hospital is working with Cincinnati Public Schools, Interact for Health and others on a long-term solution.
 
The Harrison location was chosen for reopening because officials felt that children in Walnut Hills and downtown had nearby access to other health care providers, and the Norwood site is currently on hold because of the building lease.
 
UC Health and other local health center operators are working to help adult patients that used to go to Neighborhood Health Care transfer to other providers. The city health department, Crossroads Health Center and UC Health are now accepting former Neighborhood Health patients.
 
The health department has hired additional staff to help field calls from Neighborhood Health patients and is considering expanding its hours. To book appointments, please call 513-357-7320.
 
In the coming weeks, the federal government is expected to announce a grant that would allow health centers to apply for additional money that is needed to serve former Neighborhood Health patients.
 
There is no official date for the reopening of the Harrison health center, but Children’s plans to operate it for three to six months.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Neighborhood Asset Mapping tool focuses on neighborhoods' strengths

The Community Building Institute recently partnered with Xavier University and the United Way of Greater Cincinnati to develop and launch the Neighborhood Asset Mapping tool. It’s an online resource that allows all 52 Cincinnati neighborhoods to create a profile of community-based assets and resources in the area.
 
NAT was made available to the public this spring,and was in development for six to eight months before that. It’s free, and it promotes engagement and resource-sharing among residents. Residents can add assets to NAT, and they’re immediately available to other users.
 
“If you’re new to the community or thinking of moving to a neighborhood, you can find what’s going on there,” says Trina Jackson, program director of the Community Building Institute. “You can find community councils and neighborhood associations. Lots of people don’t know about grassroots organizations, and Nat allows residents to connect with one another through smaller organizations.”
 
The United Way helps support community development and community-based organizations, and NAT is the community engagement arm for Xavier, Jackson says. “We were focused on getting people connected with each other, and helping them see what’s out there.”
 
For example, in Evanston, many people know about the employment resource center. But if you’re not from the neighborhood, you don’t necessarily know it’s there, so you turn to the computer or your phone to find the things you need.
 
NAT focuses on a neighborhood’s strengths, and doesn’t include crime data or vacant property statistics. It's intened to be used by new and potential residents, entrepreneurs and developers as a tool to help find the best locations to live, work and play.
 
The Community Building Institute plans to host a series of “data entry parties” where people can get together and enter assets into NAT and learn new things about the neighborhood they live in. The first one is planned for Walnut Hills, but the date is to be determined.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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New online tool aims to keep Cincinnati residents engaged in their neighborhoods

On July 24, the City of Cincinnati adopted Nextdoor, a free, private social network for you, your neighbors and your community. The goal is to improve community engagement between the City and its residents, and foster neighbor-to-neighbor communications.
 
Each of Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods will have its own private Nextdoor neighborhood website, which is accessible only to residents of that neighborhood. City administrations and several city departments will also use Nextdoor to share important news, services, programs, free events and emergency notifications to residents, but they won’t be able to see who is registered to use the site or the conversations among residents.
 
Founded in 2010 in San Francisco, Nextdoor’s mission is to bring back a sense of community to the neighborhood. The site was tested in 175 neighborhoods across the country, and results showed that neighborhoods had some of the same issues, plus a variety of different issues.
 
“We all remember what our neighborhood experience was like as kids, when everyone knew each other, looked out for one another and stayed in the community longer," says Sarah Leary, co-founder of Nextdoor. “We want to invoke that nostalgia for neighborhoods.”
 
To date, Nextdoor is being used by about 17,000 neighborhoods across the country. In June, Nextdoor partnered with New York City and Mayor Bloomberg to communicate with the city’s 8.3 million residents. The site plans to roll out in other major cities like Cincinnati over the course of the next several months.
 
Nextdoor also recently released its iPhone app. “We’re really putting the lifeline of the neighborhood into the palm of the residents’ hands,” says Leary. “The common thread is an interest in using technology to make connections with neighbors. But it doesn’t stop there—once people have an easy way to communicate, they’re more likely to get together in the real world.”
 
You can sign up for Nextdoor on its website, or download the app in the App Store.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Dance, movement, art shape The Shakti Factory

Looking for a place to let loose and dance? Then The Shakti Factory is for you.
 
The Shakti Factory is a movement studio, gathering place and dynamic learning community that is focused on creativity, freedom, embodied spirituality and evolutionary human potential. Owners Meredith Hogan and Lisa Stegman wanted a place for themselves to dance and gather, but they couldn’t find anywhere that fit their needs in Cincinnati. They opened their business in December near Xavier University.
 
“We want to continue to build a tribe of dancers and help set our bodies into a healing, natural rhythm,” says Hogan.
 
“Shakti” is defined as the divine, feminine power that animates and brings life to everything that is.
 
But The Shakti Factory isn’t just a place for performance artists. The studio is currently displaying a print show by Hans Waller; he also painted a mural on one of the walls. In the future, Hogan and Stegman want to host art shows regularly.
 
“It’s about pushing boundaries, and offering things that aren’t found elsewhere in town,” says Stegman. There are plans for salons that will create conversation about subjects like sexual health.
 
The Shakti Factory currently offers three dance classes each week. In July, Hogan will be adding a yoga class to the studio’s offerings. There will also be one-time workshops, such as the Warrior 101 yoga class in August that will be taught by a friend.
 
“Our vision of the space is a flexible concept that is always evolving,” says Stegman. “It might not be the same next year because it will always be changing.”
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Catch-A-Fire Pizza truck partners with local breweries

For 15 years, Jeff Ledford ran some of the finest restaurants in Cincinnati. But in February, he and his wife Melissa turned a culinary dream into a reality when they opened their food truck, Catch-A-Fire Pizza.
 
Jeff has a degree from Cincinnati State’s Midwest Culinary Institute, and trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park and Napa Valley. Besides fine dining, he’s also worked in catering.
 
The truck is a 26-foot mobile kitchen that features a wood-fired oven that reaches temperatures of up to 800 degrees. The Ledfords use fresh ingredients and are very selective about the flour, cheese, sauce and toppings they use on their pizzas, Jeff says.
 
“We wanted to bring our product, our passion and our philosophy of food and beverage to people, which is a very gratifying experience,” he says.
 
Catch-A-Fire’s best-seller is the Cornerstone, which is a pepperoni pizza topped with a fire-roasted red sauce and a five-cheese blend. The truck also features specials that rotate regularly to keep the food interesting.
 
The Ledfords are passionate about food and beverage and appreciate craft beer, so they decided to partner with a few local breweries. Catch-A-Fire can be found at Rivertown Brewing, and they’ve done events at Mt. Carmel Brewing Company and Listermann Brewing.
 
“Pizza and beer are like ketchup and French fries—it’s a great combination everyone knows,” Jeff says. “Lots of breweries have taprooms, but they’re not able to offer food, which is where we come in.”
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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CiNBA hosts networking event for Cincinnati independent businesses

On March 27, the Greater Cincinnati Indpendent Business Alliance is hosting a workshop that will focus on the unseen benefits of nurturing and supporting local independent businesses.
 
“This event provides a unique opportunity to explore the beneficial impact an independent business alliance can provide Cincinnati and the community,” says Owen Raisch, CiNBA’s founder.
 
CiNBA was started in March 2012 Raisch visited the American Independent Business Alliance’s national conference. Since then, Raisch has been working with businesses around Xavier University, including Betta’s Italian Oven, Betta’s Café Cornetti, Center City Collision, Baxter's Fast Wheels, Listermann Brewing, Kleen Print Products, Cincinnati Cash Mob and Beans and Grapes.
 
All of CiNBA’s members except Center City Collision worked with Xavier students to assess business models and develop their businesses. Over 60 students were involved in classes that range from an MBA management project to undergraduate graphic design courses.
 
CiNBA is the recipient of a Fuel Cincinnati grant that funded Raisch’s trip to the AIBA conference, and paid for CiNBA’s first year of membership to the organization.
 
“The grant and membership to AIBA provided startup support and promotional materials that were critical to the current level of CiNBA’s development,” says Raisch. “I’m very appreciative of Fuel’s support. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
 
The workshop will feature a presentation by Jeff Milchen, founder and director of the first International Business Alliance. The free event will be held at Beans and Grapes in Pleasant Ridge at 8:15 a.m. Contact Raisch at 937-402-6596 for more information.

By Caitlin Koenig
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Bronte Bistro gets a makeover at Rookwood Commons

Coffee and a good book go hand-in-hand, but what about a good book and lunch? Joseph-Beth Booksellers at Rookwood Commons recently remodeled its full-service restaurant, Brontë Bistro, to better serve its customers.
 
Joseph-Beth opened at Rookwood Commons in 1986. At the time, the Bistro was a smaller component, and was added on to in the early 1990s. But there haven’t been any significant changes to the Bistro—until now.
 
The remodel began on Jan. 7, and was 99 percent complete as of Wednesday. The entire restaurant was gutted and remodeled, from the kitchen—where new equipment was put in, including a grill—to the front of the house—where there is now a coffee kiosk for customers on-the-go. Before renovations, the only entrance to the Bistro was through the bookstore; now, there’s a front entrance that is accessible from the parking lot.
 
“The remodel really adds more offerings to our customer base,” says Joseph-Beth Booksellers’ CEO Mark Wilson. “Our goal is to create an experience for our customers. We want them to find a place where they can broaden their perspective and deepen their thinking, and the bookstore and Bistro provide that now with a nicer ambiance.”
 
The Bistro’s menu isn’t going to change much, but there will be a few new entrees available for dinner, says John Gains, general manager of the Bistro. In April, the Bistro will roll out a new dinner menu, which will include about two-thirds of the Bistro’s favorite lunch offerings, plus the new dinner offerings.
 
A meeting space was also created at the far end of the Bistro, complete with presentation screen that has the ability to house 50 people for business meetings and community events. There’s also a smaller part of the large meeting room that seats 20.

"With the remodel, we wanted to make seating more comfortable," says Gains. "Before, the dining room was loud, but we put in booths and put a wall up between the restaurant and the kitchen so people would be able to enjoy a meal and have a conversation."
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Lexington's newest craft brewery brings new brews to Cincinnati

Although there won’t be a West Sixth Brewing taproom or beer garden in the Cincinnati area, beer lovers will still be able to buy the new brewery’s beer around town.
 
West Sixth opened in Lexington on April 1, and founders Ben Self, Brady Barlow, Joe Kuosman and Robin Sither have already seen the demand for their beer go through the roof. “We’ve had people drive down from the Cincinnati area just to buy our beer,” Self says.
 
The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area was the last part of Kentucky that West Sixth added to its distribution network—the taproom and beer garden are in Lexington, and West Sixth’s beer is available in Louisville, too.
 
The quartet has heard from lots of retailers, bars and restaurants that they’re excited to be getting West Sixth’s brews, Self says. West Sixth beer became available locally about two weeks ago. The brewery kicked off its expansion at Cincy Winter Beerfest, which featured the West Sixth IPA and Deliberation Amber.
 
West Sixth does things a bit differently than other breweries, Self says. It’s the only brewery in Kentucky to can its beers; and Self and his co-founders are not only committed to brewing great beer, but to giving back to the community. They give six percent of the brewery’s monthly profits to local charities and nonprofits to support environmental packaging efforts and rehabilitation projects in Lexington.
 
You can order West Sixth’s beer at Gordo’s Pub in Norwood and Bakersfield in Over-the-Rhine. You can also purchase it at:
By Caitlin Koenig
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Oasis Rail Transit bound for Cincinnati region

For the first time since 1988, Cincinnati will play host to the 2015 MLB All-Star Game. And by that time, the Greater Cincinnati area could have a rail service, Oasis Rail Transit, which would be part of the Eastern Corridor program of multi-modal transportation improvement projects.
 
The Oasis project is the first proposed leg of the new regional rail system that will provide a new and much-needed transportation alternative for area residents. The Oasis line would span 17 miles between downtown Cincinnati and Milford. There are existing tracks along the route, but a number of miles of new track would be laid as well.
 
According to a press release, using existing track is a less expensive way to build a foundation of regional transportation. It would allow a passenger rail service network to advance more quickly and could serve as a national model for other commuter rail projects.

“Regional passenger rail isn’t a pipe dream, nor is it something for the far-off future,” according to Todd Portune, Hamilton County Commissioner and chair of Hamilton County Transportation Improvement District, in a press release. “It is here. Now. We can make this happen by 2015, but it will take a regional commitment from our local municipalities, chambers of commerce, state agencies and leaders to remove any barriers.”
 
The rail project was awarded funding last fall from the Ohio Department of Transportation’s House Bill 114 to help secure the right-of-way for extending the existing rail line from the Boathouse downtown to the Riverfront Transit Center. HCTID has also been working with local groups to explore joint-use opportunities, such as bicycle and walking paths, within the rail corridors. 
 
There are other rail lines in the works for the region that would connect Hamilton, Clermont, Butler and Warren counties in Ohio, and parts of Northern Kentucky and southeastern Indiana as well. The future rail line will travel from Xavier University to Fairfax to Eastgate (Wasson line); along I-71 from Cincinnati/NKY International Airport/Florence to Blue Ash; along I-75 to Union Centre; along the I-471 corridor to Northern Kentucky University; and along western I-74 to Green Township and US-50 to Lawrenceburg.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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City Hall launches app as a community-organizing tool

The City of Cincinnati has taken out the back-and-forth that can occur when residents try to reach them to report issues in their neighborhoods. At the Neighborhood Summit on Feb. 16, Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls announced that the Cincinnati City Hall mobile app is available to the public.
 
With the app, residents can look up trash, recycling and street sweeping days, and set reminders; locate and report problems by address; bookmark locations for quick reporting; and track the status of reports. City Hall mobile also has GPS, so users can report issues, even without an address. There’s even a searchable map with property owner information, which enables residents to see if a property is occupied or vacant.
 
A few years ago, residents had to use the Yellow Pages to look up the number for city departments to file complaints, says Kevin Wright, executive director of Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation. The city then implemented a hotline for all complaints, but residents never knew the status of their reports.
 
“It’s amazing how comprehensive the app is,” Wright says. “If you see a broken window, pothole, graffiti, hanging gutter or anything else that is physically wrong with your neighborhood, street or community, you can report it in an instant. It’s a great tool for neighborhood redevelopment.”
 
The app can also be used as a community-organizing tool, Wright says. For example, if there is a property owner who historically hasn’t taken care of his or her property, social media can help organize a community and target the property to enforce codes until the property is fixed, which is what neighborhood councils and organizations like WHRF do.
 
“We’re really putting power in the hands of the citizens of the neighborhoods,” he says.
 
As with most tech programs, the app has room to grow, too. In the future, it could be linked with Facebook or Twitter, so your friends and followers will know who reported problems and where they are.
 
Cincinnati residents can download the app in the Apple App Store or download it through Google Play.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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X-Lab offers startups opportunities, expertise, community

In 2010, Xavier University’s Williams College of Business launched its X-LAB program (short for Xavier Launch a Business) in an effort to recognize on-campus opportunities for community engagement. The program is returning for its third year, and is accepting applicants until Sept. 7.

The X-Lab program is designed for people (including students) in the Cincinnati area who are excited about their ideas, but may not necessarily have the skills to execute them in the business world.

“A lot of people understand their ideas and are passionate about them,” says Joe Carter, director of the X-lab competition and a professor at Xavier University, “but they have no idea how to take the next step or how to run a business.”

The program will accept 25 applicants from Cincinnati who are interested in starting their own businesses, social enterprises and nonprofits. The businesses and nonprofits are chosen based on the applicants’ ideas and the potential for local and national growth.

After the X-Lab committee chooses the program’s 25 finalists, they are invited to attend free workshops conducted by local executives and Xavier students and staff. The free workshops teach applicants how to turn their ideas into actual businesses and nonprofits.

“We teach them the components of the business model,” says Carter. “Like how to protect their intellectual property, identifying target audiences and marketing skills.”

Then, the X-Lab committee will choose five finalists in the program and introduce them to potential investors and collaborators. 

Carter says small businesses and nonprofits are important to the community because they help attract and retain jobs and talent in the region. He also says the X-lab members become a community of entrepreneurs, who work together to make their ideas successful.

“We teach them how to run a business, and that builds confidence,” says Carter. “They also want to help one another and network, so it’s a positive experience for everyone.”

By Jen Saltsman
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22 Evanston / Norwood Articles | Page: | Show All
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