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Steinhaus owners choose Newport for second restaurant


Detlef Koeppe and Marcus Repp, owners of Steinhaus Restaurant in Florence, are planning to open their second venture, Factory, next month in Newport. Factory pays homage to the steel mills of both Newport and Germany but with a modern spin.
 
Repp came to the Cincinnati area in 2008 after receiving his Master Chef certification and spending time cooking in Germany, Moscow and the Caribbean. Koeppe has lived in the area since the early ’80s.
 
“This is very exciting for us,” Repp says. “We’ve done German food and beer, but this is new terrain for us.”
 
Koeppe and Repp wanted to do something different from Steinhaus, which focuses on German cuisine. So with Factory they’re bringing in other European influences such as Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. Although the menu isn't finalized yet, Repp says it will be more like a coffee shop and wine bar, with growlers of beer to go as well.  
 
The 2,400-square-foot space located in the newly constructed Monmouth Row apartment complex. Back in Germany, Koeppe worked in a steel mill, as did Repp’s grandfather, and the inside of the restaurant will be reminiscent of the cantinas in the steel mills where workers go to relax and eat.
 
Concrete countertops, exposed duct work and a concrete floor give the restaurant an industrial feel, which carries into the kitchen, where diners can watch the cooks prepare food.
 
“We were looking for an up-and-coming area with lots of revitalization, and Newport, Monmouth especially, is in a sleep, and we have to wake it up and bring it back to what it used to be,” Repp says. “Eventually, maybe Monmouth will be like a European street, where you can eat, drink and shop all within walking distance.”
 
Not only do Koeppe and Repp want to bring a new, fresh space to Newport, but they want to attract people who are going across the river to Cincinnati to stay in Northern Kentucky. Repp says future plans for Factory might include live music and art displays on the walls.
 
“We want it to be a meeting place, not just for young people but for everyone,” he says.
 

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.
 

UC building to be renovated into research accelerator


The University of Cincinnati is renovating its former Campus Services Building, located at 2900 Reading Road, into a research accelerator. The $16 million project will be finished in about 18 months.
 
The new research accelerator will help encourage entrepreneurial innovation at UC by providing the space for UC-based startup companies. The first tenant has been announced, UC Research Institute, which is an independent nonprofit that helps attract local, national and international industries to then partner with faculty and students in sponsored research.
 
The 133,000-square-foot building was built in 1929 as a Sears, Roebuck and Co. department store. Over the years, UC housed a number of departments in it, but it was emptied and slated for demolition last year.
 
The two-story tower at the center of the building that in a previous life housed a water tank for the building’s fire suppression system will become office space. A 40,000-square-foot addition that was added in 1945 at the north end of the building will be demolished. A new elevator and stairway will be added along with new safety, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, plumbing and electrical systems.
 
Development will be done one floor at a time, and areas of the building will be finished to meet tenant specifications.
 
Funding was approved for the project last week, and it will receive $14 million in debt funding and $2 million in local funds.
 

Catering business expands, opens cafe at downtown library


Stephen Spyrou, whose brother is also a chef, grew up watching his parents and grandparents cook. The experience led him to pursue a culinary arts degree at the Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State and then join the American Culinary Association of Cincinnati as the program director and now president.
 
He was working for Kroger when he realized he had a passion for catering, so Spyrou started Vertigo Catering in 2011. Now that business has expanded into a café at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County downtown.
 
“I realized that adding another avenue would help supplement day-to-day sales,” Spyrou says. “I looked into a variety of opportunities to do that, and the café popped up.”
 
Vertigo Café opened on Feb. 17 and serves a variety of soups, salads and sandwiches. It uses Boar’s Head meats and cheeses to create a sandwich of the week. The menu is a grab-and-go concept, but guests can also sit down and enjoy their meal in the café.
 
“There are lots of chain lunch places in the area, and we’re here to offer something more unique,” Spyrou says.
 
Vertigo is open from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday. Spyrou plans to continue catering as well and is excited about the exposure to new potential catering clients the café will bring him.
 

Clifton citizen group working to improve neighborhood


In October, Clifton Town Meeting, Clifton Business & Professional Association, Clifton 20/20 and Uptown Consortium commissioned Urban Fast Forward to do a comprehensive study of the Ludlow Avenue business district. The study, called Ludlow 21, revealed a list of suggested improvements in order to attract new residents and businesses to Clifton as well as retain current residents and businesses.
 
After the report came out, the neighborhood organizations knew they couldn’t let it sit on a shelf. So a new organization, the Ludlow 21 Working Group, was formed. The nine volunteers meet twice monthly and host monthly public meetings in order to keep residents and business owners talking about Clifton.
 
“We’re constantly thinking about what we can do to preserve the integrity of what we love about Clifton,” says Jan Brown Checco, member of the L21WG. “Cliftonites enjoy a high level of education and are employed by our universities, hospitals and city corporations. The neighborhood’s lively debates often make it feel like the international crossroads of Cincinnati, but this is what makes Clifton a desirable place to live, work and play. It’s also what makes the planning and communication work of L21WG challenging but essential.”
 
Clifton is known for its history but is in danger of becoming eclipsed by new developments near UC and in neighboring communities. L21WG’s goal is to freshen up the neighborhood and make it more interesting and attractive to residents and visitors.
 
The biggest question being discussed: What kinds of businesses do residents want to see?

Ludlow Avenue has become a European shopping experience, in that residents have access to everything they need ... except some things. One of those missing ingredients is a grocery store — the IGA was a Ludlow Avenue anchor for decades — but residents aren't necessarily pushing for a traditional 20,000-square-foot Kroger.
 
The Clifton Market campaign is in the midst of raising money to bring a co-op grocery store to the former IGA building. The campaign received an extension through mid-March, but if for some reason that doesn’t happen L21WG has an alternative plan in place for future development there.
 
Currently, there are no middle- to higher-end condos in the business district. Residents want to be able to walk out their front door and enjoy Clifton without having to drive or take the bus. Ideally, the three-acre IGA property and adjacent lot would become a mixed-used development, with condos and first-floor retail space as well as parking.
 
If the Clifton Market plan is successful, there would still be about two acres of land that could potentially be developed into condos by an as-yet-to-be-identified developer.
 
Other suggestions from the Ludlow 21 Report include regular programming for Clifton Plaza, attracting the right types of businesses for the business district and fresh storefront signage. Clifton is the recipient of Eye Candy Design’s Amp Award, which will provide free marketing services to the neighborhood. The award is given to one local and one national organization each year, and this year Clifton won the local award.
 
Eye Candy Design will develop a simple marketing plan for the neighborhood as well as a fresh brand and logo. A number of neighborhoods and cities are rebranding, including Covington, and most recently Newport announced that it's working on a rebranding plan. 
 
As a neighborhood, Clifton is focusing on new programming for Clifton Plaza, which is across the street from Graeter’s. Lydia Stec, owner of Om Eco Café, brings in live music on Friday and Saturday nights and helped attract a farmers market to the space, but L21WG wants to get residents involved too. 
 
“We’re working to convene residents in a way that invites them to action,” Brown Checco says. “Historically you had to own a business or be on the board of Clifton Town Meeting to have a say, but not any more.”
 

Food truck opening brick-and-mortar cafe at MadTree


Food truck owners Jeff and Melissa Ledford are opening a restaurant inside MadTree Brewing this week based on their popular wood-oven concept. Catch-a-Fire Café will continue to offer pizzas that customers know and love, as well as a few new items.
 
The food truck side of Catch-a-Fire launched in February 2013. Over the last year the truck has been a frequent sight at MadTree, which doesn’t currently serve food, so it made sense for the Ledfords to pursue opening a brick-and-mortar space inside the brewery.
 
Like the truck, the main method of cooking in the café will be a wood-fired oven. The menu will include 16 pizzas as well as dishes that use MadTree beer, such as pretzels with Gnarly Brown beer cheese, a PsychHOPathy-infused hummus and wood-fired wings with sauces like Happy Amber barbecue, a PsychHOPathy lime sauce, buffalo and jerk.
 
Ledford also plans to roll out specialty offerings and new dishes often, which will help the café keep up with the constant roll-out of new beers from MadTree.
 
The café will offer 16-inch pizzas in addition to its staple 10-inch. Online ordering will be available for to-go options.
 
Catch-a-Fire Café will be open when MadTree is open but will be closed Wednesday nights for MadTree's Hop Up dinners, which feature meals prepared by local chefs. Hours are currently 4-10 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday, 4 p.m.-midnight Thursday, 4 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday, noon-1 a.m. Saturday and noon-8 p.m. Sunday.
 
Hours will change in the near future, when MadTree starts opening at noon Thursday and Friday for lunch.
 
And not to worry: The Ledfords plan to continue the food truck, though they'll likely shut down in the winter and start back up in the spring.
 

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.
 

Former homebrewers bringing something unique to Northside


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

"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.
 

Pop-up chef Ryan Santos opening brick-and-mortar restaurant


For the past five years, Chef Ryan Santos has been operating Please as a pop-up restaurant at venues around the city. Now he plans to open a brick-and-mortar storefront under the same name.
 
Santos’ love for cooking began 10 years ago when he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.
 
“I learned to cook from scratch with a lot of dietary restriction,” he says. “I quickly fell in love with cooking, and when my health improved I started training in kitchens around the country and in Europe.”
 
The restaurant’s menu will look a lot like it does now, with a five-course and a three-course offering. The bar will also offer different a la carte options. Please will be open for dinner, and Santos says he’s still working on a daytime component but that it won’t be your typical 11 a.m.-2 p.m. lunch.
 
“We hope to bring a new format and experience to food that doesn’t currently exist here,” Santos says. “Our approach to food and the dining experience is made up of all of the things I’ve loved during my travels domestically and abroad.”
 
Once open, Please won’t host pop-up dinners any longer, but Santos plans to continue doing private dinners for customers, where he comes to and cooks in their home. Santos is also toying with hosting new pop-up concepts and is working with Sierra Laumer of forkheartknife, who would host brunches in the space.
 
Santos says Please will open roughly a year from now at an address to be determined — he's looking at possible locations in Columbia Tusculum, East Walnut Hills, the Findlay Market area and elsewhere in Over-the-Rhine.
 
Please's Kickstarter campaign to help raise restaurant funds ends on Feb. 5.
 

Pure Romance to run downtown pop-up shop throughout February


Just in time for Valentine's Day, Pure Romance hosts a pop-up shop, Truly Sexy, Feb. 6-28 on the first floor of the Cincinnati Bar Association's downtown building. The 4,000-square-foot shop will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 225 E. Sixth St.
 
Truly Sexy is the company's first pop-up boutique and is geared to increase brand awareness and introduce new consumers to the brand and what it has to offer, says CEO Chris Cicchinelli.
 
Pure Romance doesn’t plan to open a permanent retail location, but there may be other month-long pop-up boutiques in the company’s future.
 
“If this model is successful, we would consider expanding to other large cities, like New York, Chicago and L.A.,” Cicchinelli says.
 
The shop will offer Pure Romance’s bath and beauty lines, massage oils and lotions, creams, enhancement products, adult toys and its all-natural line. The company will also be introducing its newest line, the Masterpiece collection, at Truly Sexy.
 
The Masterpiece collection is inspired by the books and upcoming film Fifty Shades of Grey. It features higher end toys and items that have become popular since the books’ release, including a collection of decorative masks, whips, floggers and ben wa balls.
 
Truly Sexy will also host private after-hours "Boutique Shopping Experiences" for groups of 20 or more. To schedule an event, contact Suzanne Murray at rsvp@pureromance.com or 513-205-7662.
 

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.
 

Nine Giant to expand local craft beer growth into Pleasant Ridge


Nine Giant Brewing will open its doors this summer in Pleasant Ridge’s newest development, Sixty99, at the prominent corner of Montgomery and Ridge roads. The brewery is the brainchild of brothers-in-law Michael Albarella, a self-proclaimed beer nerd, and Brandon Hughes, who has a business background.
 
While on a yearly family trip to North Carolina, Albarella and Hughes hatched a plan to start a brewery. This was before MadTree and Rhinegeist, and the two felt that Cincinnati was ripe for a craft beer revolution.
 
“We were definitely onto something,” Hughes says.

He quit his job last April, and he and his wife moved back to Cincinnati to start making Nine Giant a reality.
 
When Nine Giant opens its 3,400-square-ft. facility, it won’t be launching flagship beers. Instead, each of its eight taps will be dedicated to a certain category of beer — there will always be a tap dedicated to pale ale, but it could be a German pale, an American pal, a Belgian pale or something more exotic like a chile-spiked pale ale, Hughes says.
 
“We’ll revisit beers over time, but we want to have room to experiment and to have fun and offer customers a great experience every time,” he says.
 
Albarella and Hughes will also be creating beers with lower alcohol contents, although that doesn’t mean all of the beers will be "session-style," or beers lower in alcohol so you can drink more in one session. There will be high-gravity styles alongside more session style beers, and there might be an imperial IPA with a 7.5-8 percent ABV, which isn’t a session beer but is lower than most double IPAs on the market.
 
“As a taproom-only brewery, we want people to be able to try a number of our beers at one time,” Hughes says.
 
Nine Giant is also a snackery and will offer a menu of 8-10 small plates that pair well with its beers. The final launch menu isn’t set in stone yet, but Hughes says there will definitely be a charcuterie plate and riffs on traditional American bar foot, including pomme frites and deep-fried housemade pickles. Sliders might make the menu, and there will be heavy Mexican and Central American influences.
 
“We’ve always envisioned ourselves being part of a neighborhood, a community,” Hughes says. “Pleasant Ridge was perfect. The local residents really rally behind local businesses, and the support and well wishes we’ve received since announcing the brewery have been amazing. The area has a ton going for it, with affordable housing, a new elementary school and great accessibility. We’re really excited to be part of the larger economic revitalization of this proud neighborhood.”
 

Northside church renovations to yield brewery, theater, event space

Urban Artifact, formerly Grayscale Cincinnati, recently purchased the old St. Patrick's church in Northside, which was most recently home to Queen City Cookies. Plans are to renovate the church property into a brewery and event space by spring. Urban Artifact was also working on a project at the old Jackson Brewery in Over-the-Rhine, and their plans for Northside contain some of the same program elements.
 
“The church has the same reused aesthetic as the Jackson Brewery,” says Urban Artifact’s Scott Hand, who is serving as construction manager and architect for the project. “It’s a great architectural space, and preservation is big for us.”
 
The Northside property includes the church and nearby gymnasium and rectory, totaling over 20,000 square feet. The church will have a 200-seat theater upstairs in the sanctuary and a taproom, bar and smaller event space on the ground level. The gym will be home to the actual brewery, and the rectory may be the site of a future restaurant.
 
Bret Kollmann-Baker and Scott Hunter are focused on the brewery part of the project, along with Hand and his business partner, Dominic Marino. Kollmann-Baker says the taproom will have 8-12 of its own beers on tap as well as a full liquor license. The plan is to offer something for everyone and to create unique beer cocktails to introduce people to the beer.
 
There are also plans to distribute the beer to Northside bars.
 
Urban Artifact is bringing other Northside businesses into the space. New Edgecliff Theatre will perform upstairs. Groundwork Cincinnati, which is in charge of the Mill Creek bike path, is renting part of the rectory for office space and its educational outreach program.
 
Hand also hopes to create a courtyard biergarten, something that will help bring the project to the forefront of the open container entertainment district that's in the works for Northside. Urban Artifact purchased the St. Patrick property as one parcel, which means that it requires one liquor license.
 
“This facility is perfect,” Hand says. “There’s lots of density and historic elements in the neighborhood, and it would benefit from a larger venue like this. There’s nowhere that can hold 700 people here. We also get to be Northside’s brewery (and) to be the brand for local pride.”
 
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