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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.
 

Former SCPA building to become apartments with added parking


Core Redevelopment announced that the former School for Creative & Performing Arts, located at 1310 Sycamore St. in Over-the-Rhine/Pendleton, will be converted into apartments that should be ready by Spring 2016. Core bought the building at a Cincinnati Public Schools auction for $1.3 million in late 2012 and plans to begin the renovation process in June.
 
The 107-year-old building was originally built as Woodward High School, which was the first public school west of the Alleghenies. In 1976, SCPA started to take control of parts of the building and a year later had control of the entire building. The school moved to its current location on Central Parkway in 2010.
 
Originally there were plans to bring a hotel to the former school, but that project fell through and Core Redevelopment will now create an apartment complex.
 
The $23 million redevelopment, called Alumni Lofts, includes creating 148 one- and two-bedroom apartments as well as a few studios, which will range from 700 to 1,700 square feet and cost $700-1,500 per month. All of the units will include granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and contemporary lighting. Apartments on the fifth floor will be two stories with lofts.

The redevelopment of the SCPA building is a historic preservation project, which means that Core Redevelopment will be sensitive to the building's historic elements, says Michael Cox, a developer for the Indianapolis-based company. Different aspects of the building will be preserved, including the school's original slate blackboards, cabinets, hallway tile, marble columns and Rookwood fountains. Core also plans to rehabilitate all of the existing hardwood floors.

"We love old buildings, and we love converting them into something new," Cox says. "We're taking a building with architectural and historical significance and putting it back into service. We hope it will become a focal point in the neighborhood and be a draw for OTR and Pendleton."

To date, Core Redevelopment has created between 10,000 and 12,000 apartments and done three historic renovations in Indianapolis. This is Core's first project in Cincinnati, and the company will also work on the rehabilitation of the Windsor School in Walnut Hills beginning this summer.
 
Alumni Lofts plans include removing almost all of the existing pavement in front of the building’s main entrance along 13th Street as well as creating a two-level 196-space parking structure at the back of the five-story building for residents. The small access lots on the east and west sides of the building will remain.

The finished project will also include a fitness center and outdoor courtyards, and the green space on the north side of the property will be maintained.
 

Cincinnati Development Fund adds nonprofit loan program to redevelopment efforts


The Cincinnati Development Fund (CDF) recently unveiled its nonprofit facilities and equipment loan program designed to help nonprofits obtain affordable long-term loans in order to renovate, maintain and improve existing facilities. The program is made possible through a partnership with IFF and a $1.4 million grant from the JP Morgan Chase Foundation.
 
“The program enables nonprofits to continue to invest in their core missions while also meeting critical facilities and equipment needs,” says Debbie Koo, loan officer for CDF.
 
Loan amounts in the nonprofit loan program can range from $50,000 to more than $1.5 million, providing flexible capital for nonprofits that might not be able to get financing through traditional lenders. An appraisal isn’t required, and CDF can advance up to 95 percent of the project cost.
 
Nonprofits can use the loans for capital projects (acquisition, construction, renovation, leasehold improvements or refinancing); maintenance and improvements (roof repair, new windows, ADA code repairs or HVAC); and capitalized equipment purchases (computer hardware/software, furnishings, medical equipment or service-oriented vehicles).
 
To date, CDF has made loans to Findlay Market for its new incubator kitchen and to Kennedy Heights Art Center. With interest growing in the new program, several other projects are currently in the works.
 
“CDF is focused on revitalizing neighborhoods, which includes providing support for the people who live and work in those communities,” Koo says. “With this program, we are able to expand our reach beyond residential and mixed-use developments to include nonprofit facilities and equipment.

“If we can help improve a nonprofit’s cash flow by providing low-interest, long-term financing, that leaves them more money to invest in their missions. If more nonprofits own their own real estate, they can build equity and strengthen their balance sheets.”
 

3CDC plans more housing and retail for OTR


Over the next two years, new construction and redevelopment of a number of existing buildings will yield more than 60 new living units and 37,500 square feet of retail along Race Street between 15th and Liberty streets. This will be one of 3CDC’s largest projects in Over-the-Rhine, second only to Mercer Commons.
 
The 2.2-acre development will be built in seven different phases and be residential-based, making it a bit different from the bar and restaurant scene 3CDC developed on Vine Street.
 
Phase 1: A new three-story building along Race Street will contain 17 units and 4,500 square feet of retail. The one- and two-bedroom apartments will be between 1,000-1,300 square feet, and the retail spaces will be split between two or three businesses. Construction is slated to begin in July, with completion next summer.
 
Phase 2: A one- to two-story commercial addition at 1505 Race will yield four condos on the upper floors.  

Phase 3: Originally 3CDC envisioned a parking garage within the block, but the newest plans include a surface parking lot with 34 spaces behind the development, with an entrance from 15th Street.
 
Phase 4: There will also be 10 or 11 townhomes with private parking plus four condos in the 1500 block of Pleasant Street. These will be geared more toward families and will be mostly new construction.
 
Phase 5: On Race Street, a historic rehab will yield 27 affordable housing units and 7,000 square feet of commercial space. Model Group and Cornerstone Renter Equity are partners on this portion of the development and will be applying for low-income housing tax credits as well as historic tax credits.
 
Phases 6 & 7: The empty lot on Liberty between Pleasant and Race will be spruced up as surface parking for now and could host new development in the future. The vacant Elm Industries space on Race will also be renovated into 22,000 square feet of commercial space.
 

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.
 

Bar and vintage arcade concept opening soon in OTR


Over-the-Rhine will be home to a new type of bar concept when 16-Bit Bar + Arcade opens in the spring, combining beer and cocktails with vintage arcade games. The location at 1331 Walnut St. joins the flagship 16-Bit in Columbus, which opened in 2013, and a second that opened in August in Cleveland.
 
16-Bit will have over 50 vintage arcade games, including classics like Frogger, Galaga and Ms. Pacman, as well as late ‘80s and early ‘90s fighting games like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter II. There will also be four-player games like The Simpsons, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and X-Men.
 
Owner Troy Allen spends a lot of time researching, finding and restoring games for 16-Bit. He plans to have more obscure games, too, including titles like Capper and Omega Race.
 
“We want to deliver the experience of when someone comes in, they’re stepping in and discovering something from their childhood,” he says. “We love when people come in and see a game they haven’t seen in years.”
 
The 4,000-square-foot space has three garage doors on the front that open onto the sidewalk in warmer weather. And as soon as customers walk inside, they’ll be transported back to the ’80s and ’90s by the music, décor, menus and movies on the TVs.
 
“It’s so much more than a bar or an arcade,” Allen says. “We want those visual cues that will take people back to remember a time in their childhood.”
 
OTR will also boast 16-Bit’s first dedicated console bar, an area at the front for console play on Atari 7200, Nintendo, Nintendo 64, Super Nintendo and all the way up to Xbox. Players will be able to choose from the arcade’s vast console library and play in dedicated tournaments for games like Mario Kart and Smash Bros.
 
On the bar side, 16-Bit will have 24 craft beer taps with local, Ohio and seasonal beers. It will also have your basic beer in cans as well as a two-sided cocktail menu. One side will have new-wave cocktails named after icons from the ‘80s and ‘90s (think Molly Ringwold and Cindy Lauper), while the other side will feature old-school classic cocktails, also named after icons from the ’80s and ’90s. "Poptails" will be featured in the summer — the Hulk Hogan is flavored vodka, lemonade and Sprite in a pint glass with a Bomb Pop.
 
16-Bit won’t charge a cover, and all games are free to play. Allen says that even though the quarter machines are disabled people still feed quarters to them because they like the nostalgia it brings.
 
And although 16-Bit is a bar first and is therefore 21 and over, Allen plans to have “Bring Your Shortie” days once a week, when all ages can come and play. The bar will also be available for special events and private parties.
 
“We want to give people the chance to introduce younger generations to these games,” he says.
 
Allen also owns a Columbus-based brand strategy and design firm where he launches businesses and brands for others. He started to look at the idea of 16-Bit from a business standpoint and realized that it would be a good test for his new company.
 
From the beginning, Allen had planned to launch five markets in three years, with Cincinnati in the running for the third or fourth market. He was approached by 3CDC in 2013 to bring the concept to OTR, where 16-Bit will anchor the second phase of the Mercer Commons development.
 
“I remember Over-the-Rhine as something completely different,” Allen says. “I came down about a year ago, and I couldn’t believe how much it and downtown had changed. From that moment, I was hooked.”
 
Once open, 16-Bit’s hours will be 4 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Monday-Friday and noon to 2:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
 

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.
 

Rhinehaus owners investing in Pendleton community


A year ago, the owners of Rhinehaus in Over-the-Rhine started working on a second bar/restaurant concept for the Broadway Square development in Pendleton. Nation Kitchen & Bar will open later this spring, with a focus on community.
 
“We saw a huge opportunity in the neighborhood,” says Andrew Salzbrun, who along with Aaron Kohlhepp and Jack Weston owns both Nation and Rhinehaus. “Right now there’s nothing going on there, there are no businesses to create interaction among neighbors, no programming outside of the Final Friday art galleries. As a resident of Pendleton I saw a hole, and I want to have a thriving, vibrant community where people know one another.”
 
Having a space to help build lifelong relationships was critical when designing Nation. The 1,800-square-foot restaurant has little alcoves that allow for more intimate conversation. The eight- to 10-item menu will also focus on dishes and drinks that are meant to share, with a burger at the core.
 
“Think of the power of social media,” Salzbrun says. “It used to be the post office, then a bar, now it’s websites. We want to take a step back and get to the fundamentals and take social media back to the bar concept.”
 
Like Rhinehaus, Nation will be a place for everyone. Salzbrun says price points will be very approachable and will make it easy for guests to eat there two or three times a week without breaking the bank.
 
Nation’s name has roots in the neighborhood as well. Not only does it lend itself to building community, but it’s named after Carrie Nation, an early leader of the women’s temperance movement. She used to walk into bars and smash beers with a hatchet.
 
“It’s kind of ironic that we’re putting her name on a bar, since she was a precursor to Prohibition,” Salzbrun says.
 
Nation is the first anchor for Phase I of Broadway Square, which includes 39 apartments and 12,000 square feet of retail and commercial space. Phase II begins this spring, with Phase III to follow.
 

"Hungry" entrepreneurs raising food truck awareness


Brothers PJ and Matt Neumann and their friend Mike Madell-Brown have all worked in the food and beverage industry. Now they’re embarking on a new food journey together by starting the Hungry Bros. food truck, which will be up and running by Reds’ Opening Day.
 
PJ was in Colorado on a business trip when he realized he wanted to pursue his passion for the food and beverage industry. He says it’s always been a dream to own a restaurant with his brother, but he wanted to take a less-than-traditional route to doing that.
 
“I called Matt and told him I quit my job,” PJ says. “It just so happens that he was looking for direction in his career, too. It was perfect timing.”
 
The truck won’t have a set menu but will change based on what the harvest has to offer. It will center around fried pies and waffle fries, with savory and sweet offerings such as the Lamb Uel Jackson, a root beer and cherry braised lamb, and a PB&J pie with seasonal jam.
 
Waffle fry dishes include poutine — waffle fries topped with Wisconsin cheese curds, lamb gravy and a fried egg — and a Reuben-inspired fry with smoked Gouda, grilled pastrami, sauerkraut and Russian dressing on top. There will also be a waffle fry sundae with chocolate ice cream, topped off with peppered bacon.
 
“As kids we always went to Wendy’s and got fries and chocolate Frostys,” says PJ, who has a finance degree from Xavier University. “So we decided to formalize that and add some bacon, too.”
 
When looking for a vehicle to host their kitchen, the team looked at buses and trucks and eventually decided on a Mike-Sells Potato Chip delivery truck. The Neumann brothers launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $2,500 for a new wrap for the truck, reaching the goal within the first day. The campaign is still open until March 6, and the guys are now raising money for a commercial ice cream machine so they can serve homemade ice cream with their sweet pie offerings.
 
Hungry Bros. plans to set up at the City Flea and Second Sunday on Main, and they’ve applied to be part of Food Truck Alley at Taste of Cincinnati as well as the Cincinnati Food Truck Association.
 
PJ says they’re interested in partnering with places like Liberty’s Bar & Bottle, which doesn’t serve food, but in order to sell food on city streets in Cincinnati you have to have a permit and can park only in mobile food vending zones. There aren’t any of those zones on Main Street, where Liberty's is located.
 
“There are about 40 food trucks in town, and there’s a lot of work to do to raise awareness about them,” PJ says. “One of our missions is to bring that awareness — eating on the street is fun. You don’t need a reservation. Just get your palate out there and eat.”
 
The Neumanns having a soft opening on March 25 at Rhinegeist, where they’ll be testing out a text-to-order option — customers can check out the truck’s menu in the taproom, then text their order down to the truck, pay using Square, and a runner will bring their food up to them.
 

Martin & Marilyn Wade's ambitious OTR development is underway


Much of the development in Over-the-Rhine has been spearheaded by large organizations like 3CDC and Urban Sites. But private developers are coming on the scene now, and they're not just renovating private residences.

Martin Wade, owner of Rookwood Pottery, and his wife Marilyn are working to redevelop a large swath of OTR at Walnut and East Liberty streets, where their proposed $75 million project will include the historic Grammer’s German restaurant. Phase I is underway on existing properties along Walnut between 14th and Melindy streets, with 21 apartments to be completed by June.
 
The Wades have been acquiring OTR property since 2007, when they purchased Grammer’s from former Vice Mayor Jim Tarbell and tried to run it as a bar and meeting space. It closed in 2011.
 
Their ambitious three-phase, mixed-use project will include a total of 100 apartments, 40,000 square feet of office and retail space and four single-family townhomes.
 
Phase II sits just north of Melindy, which will be turned into a pedestrian street. This portion of the project will include demolishing part of Grammer’s complex to make way for new construction, but part of the restaurant’s façade and the bar will be preserved. The first floor will include 6,000 square feet of retail, with 16,000 square feet of office space on the second floor and 24,000 square feet of commercial space and eight apartments on the third floor. There will also be 157 parking spaces of parking both underground and on street level.
 
Another part of Phase II will be four single-family townhomes on Clay Street, each with its own garage. Wade hopes to break ground on the second phase by the third quarter of this year, with construction finishing in 2017.
 
The Phase III will include 68 two- and three-bedroom apartments behind the Vine Street Kroger on the west side of Walnut. The entire project is slated to be completed by 2019.
 
Craig Gossman of the Gossman Group is the project architect, Megen Construction Co. is the general contractor and Urban Sites will be the property manager.  
 

Chicago transplant bringing new restaurant, sense of community to OTR


Nick Pesola started his business idea, rotisserie chickens, at Findlay Market last summer. In a few weeks, he will be opening the doors of his brick-and-mortar restaurant, Revolution Rotisserie & Bar, at 1106 Race St. in Over-the-Rhine.
 
“When I moved to Cincinnati for work, I lived in Oakley and stumbled upon OTR at a friend’s recommendation,” Pesola says. “I fell in love with the neighborhood. It has a good blend of urban and neighborhood and reminds me of Chicago. There are also lots of entrepreneurial things happening as well as transplants like me. Why wouldn’t anyone want to live in OTR or start a business here?”
 
Originally, Pesola set out to do a healthier take on gyros, which are popular in his native Chicago. But after a few tastings, he realized chicken was the way to go. He started with an eight-bird rotisserie at Findlay Market and increased to a 40-bird rotisserie because he kept running out.
 
He also thought he'd be selling whole and half chickens more, but he became known for pita sandwiches. And so Revolution was born.
 
The menu will feature eight pita sandwiches that showcase the versatility of chicken, all topped with vegetables and homemade sauces and made with FreeBird chicken, which is sourced from Amish and Mennonite farms that raise chickens humanely and free of hormones and preservatives. There will also be a potato bowl with mashed potatoes or tater tots, gravy, cheese and chicken on top, and the menu will be rounded out with four salads and a la carte sides like garlic mashed potatoes, cinnamon applesauce, creamed corn, roasted seasonal vegetables and pita chips and hummus.

Revolution will also have a full bar, so customers can have a sandwich and craft beer or a punch-style cocktail.
 
The 1,500-square-foot space has been home to two different cafes and has been completely transformed to fit Revolution’s needs. Pesola installed a hood for the grill top and rotisserie as well as a full bar with 10 seats.
 
“I wanted the space to have a unique identity that was competitive in OTR,” Pesola says. “We’re doing our best to compete in the market and doing something different with a genuine feel.”
 
Not only does Pesola want to be known for his food, but he's also excited about being a great employer and helping his employees receive an education and learn transferable skills.
 
“I want to contribute to the community,” he says. “People come to my door all the time asking for a job, and I’m exploring that. I want to leave OTR a better community than before I opened Revolution. I’m all about improving everything around you and seeking to understand before doing something.”
 
Pesola is funding Revolution on his own, but he's set up a Kickstarter campaign in order to raise $6,000 to offset some start-up expenses.
 

Findlay Market creating incubator kitchen to help food entrepreneurs


Findlay Market took control of an Elm Street property two weeks ago, and construction is slated to begin on the market’s 8,000-square-foot incubator kitchen in May. The project will yield five industrial kitchens that will help launch and grow food-related businesses.
 
The Corporation for Findlay Market raised $2.5 million for the project and will charge between $16 and $20 per hour for use of kitchen space. The pricing structure isn’t finalized yet, but there will most likely be an additional fee for storage and tool or utensil rental.
 
“We’re excited to expand our mission to provide more resources to food entrepreneurs,” says Joe Hansbauer, president and CEO of the Corporation for Findlay Market. “The market is already a premiere location to start and grow a food-related business, and the kitchen will further remove barriers for those who are looking to launch a new idea or grow an existing successful business.”
 
Findlay Market is also focusing on removing barriers to entry for low-income and minority food entrepreneurs.
 
“I want to help them achieve their dream of starting a business and leverage their skills for making great food,” Hansbauer says.
 
The kitchen will also be used for different events, such as pop-up restaurants, cooking classes, healthy eating education and supporting farmers who are looking to make value-added products from their produce.
 
“An incubator kitchen has long been in the master plan for Findlay Market, and we’re excited to finally make it a reality,” Hansbauer says.
 
The kitchen, located at 1719 Elm St., will be completed by September at the earliest or December at the latest.

Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce is offering a tour of Findlay Market's pre-construction incubator kitchen site 4:30-6:30 p.m. Feb. 12, followed by a happy hour at Rhinegeist Brewery. Get details here.
 
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