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Local musicians opening Northside Sound Factory this weekend


The papered-up windows of 4172 Hamilton Ave. don’t look like much now, but on June 13 Northside Sound Factory will open its doors at the storefront. Local musicians Clinton Vearil and Josh Pilot, formerly of The KillTones, wanted to bring affordable instruments and accessories and vintage pieces to the neighborhood.
 
“The area is growing rapidly, and we felt it’s something the town could really use,” Pilot says. “There are lots of musicians in Northside, so we knew it was something the community could use and appreciate.”
 
The space used to be a restaurant but has been remodeled to fit a musician’s every need. One of the two restrooms was soundproofed and will be a testing station for instruments, where customers can set up an amp or drum set to try it out.
 
Vearil and Pilot will sell new and used musical instruments and accessories as well as unique and interesting pieces the two have been collecting. In the next few weeks, Northside Sound Factory will also begin offering a consignment service for instruments. Besides instruments, the shop will also offer an instrument repair service and lessons.
 
Shortly after opening, the shop will offer a delivery service for bands and musicians who are ready to start their set and either forgot something or are in need of a replacement string, pick or strap.
 
“With Northside Tavern right across the street, a bartender will be able to call our delivery number and we’ll bring over whatever the bands need,” Pilot says. “It won’t be a huge thing for the shop, but we really want to help musicians as well as help the surrounding music scene.”  
 
Pilot says they also plan to donate instruments to a number of schools and other organizations that help kids get into music. The guys already have a number of guitars to donate and are looking for other instruments as well.
 
“Music has been such a great thing in our lives, and we want any kid who wants to learn to have that ability,” he says.
 
Northside Sound Factory will be open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, but the shop will open at noon on June 13. The grand opening event will include music from The Good Morning Heartaches, Betsy Ross and The All Seeing Eyes featuring Johnny Walker. The bands will play in the alley next to the shop, and Lyric food truck will be set up on Hamilton Avenue. 
 

Retail collective coming to Main Street June 14


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

Local and organic burger/milkshake bar coming to Northside


Tickle Pickle burgers-and-milkshake café and catering company will open in Northside later this summer. Owner Sarah Cole originally thought about moving her other catering company, Sarelli’s Catering, from Newport to Northside, but when she purchased the building at 4176 Hamilton Ave. she decided to start a new business instead.
 
“I grew up in Clifton but moved to Northern Kentucky when my kids started school,” Cole says. “As soon as I saw a chance to buy something in Northside and be in Cincinnati again, I jumped at the chance. We come to Clifton all the time and want my kids to know the beautiful diversity (in the city of Cincinnati) that Northern Kentucky doesn’t always have.”
 
Tickle Pickle will be a fast-casual restaurant offering organic milkshakes that cater to dietary restrictions, including gluten-free and vegan. And Cole is trying to keep her food as local as possible.
 
“At Sarelli’s we’re really into organic, non-GMO foods and being conscious about what we put into our bodies,” she says. “We try to buy local, but a lot of the time companies can’t provide enough to support Sarelli’s. But Tickle Pickle will have a smaller menu, and it will be much easier to do that here.”
 
Organic milk will come from Snowville Creamery, chicken from Gerber Honest Hatchery Chicken Farms, no-preservative pretzel buns from Hot Pretzel in Northern Kentucky and vegan and whole-wheat buns from Sixteen Bricks Bread. Cole is working with Tiny Footprint Distribution, which is Green BEAN Delivery’s wholesale side, and Findlay Market as well as Northside Meat.
 
“I want to give Northside and the surrounding neighborhoods my money, keeping the food as local as possible and as organic as possible,” she says.
 
The 2,000-square-foot space was already outfitted with a kitchen, but Cole is renovating the building’s dining area and storefront. She’s working with the American Sign Museum to create an awesome Tickle Pickle sign and plans to use reclaimed wood and recyclable items when remodeling.
 
The catering side of Tickle Pickle will open June 8. The restaurant is able to cater business lunches and meetings for groups of 15 or more.
 
Tickle Pickle is also hiring, so if you’re interested send your resume to sarah@ticklepicklenorthside.com.
 

Homebrewer expands palette to kombucha brewing, to move in with Urban Artifact


Algis Aukstuolis began experimenting with fermentation about 10 years ago when he first started homebrewing. A few years ago, his wife purchased a bottle of kombucha at Whole Foods, and Aukstuolis decided he could find a way to make the probiotic-heavy fermented tea less tart and sell it as Skinny Piggy Kombucha.
 
“Kombucha fermentation is very similar to beer,” he says. “With beer you need to extract the sugar from grain, but kombucha is more like making sweet tea and focusing on steeping it correctly.”
 
Skinny Piggy currently operates out of the Northern Kentucky Incubator Kitchen in Covington, and Aukstuolis brews about once per month but bottles more frequently. He has plans to expand the business and move into the same building as Urban Artifact in Northside.
 
“I met with a number of breweries, but Urban Artifact seemed like a good fit because they specialize in wild yeast and tart beers,” Aukstuolis says.
 
Skinny Piggy's Kickstarter campaign ends on Monday, June 1, and Aukstuolis has already reached his $10,000 goal. Funds from the Kickstarter will go toward a larger brewing system and bottling equipment.
 
Skinny Piggy is an original tea blend that makes the drink less tart. In a few weeks, Aukstuolis will have his first flavored kombucha: lavender. Once he’s expanded production, he plans to add more flavors.
 
“I think Cincinnati deserves its own kombucha,” Aukstuolis says. “There are a number of styles coming from California, but Cincinnati has its own specific taste. I want to cater to that taste as well as help encourage healthy drinking lifestyles.”
 
Bottles of Skinny Piggy are currently available at The Gruff in Covington, Happy Belly on Vine and the Hyde Park Remke. It’s also available on draft at Urban Artifact. Once the Kickstarter campaign ends, he and a distributor will begin working to get the drink in Whole Foods stores.
 

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.
 

Bad Tom Brewery undergoing changes, keeping beer recipes


Bad Tom Smith Brewing will be undergoing changes in the coming months to enhance its customers’ experience. The beer will remain the same, but the look and feel of the brewery itself will undergo a facelift.
 
Bad Tom opened as Double Barrel Brewery in 2013 under the direction of Sean Smith and Charles Boucher, who left the business at the beginning of this year. Smith then brought on two friends, John Vojtush and Sheryl Gittins, who are now majority owners, with 70 percent ownership; Smith, his mother and two others retain the other 30 percent.
 
Jeff Graff, owner of Paradise Brewing Supplies, was recently brought on as Bad Tom’s head brewer and is also an equity partner in the business. A full-time assistant brewer, Eric Napier, was also hired.
 
Bad Tom Smith beer recipes will remain the same, but Graff and Napier plan to better the products’ overall quality. Changes will also be made to improve the taproom experience and make it more inviting for customers. Bad Tom is working with a new marketing partner as well, and the overall brewery and taproom will soon have more of a Western saloon feel.
 
Plans are also being circulated for a new brewery location, which could happen as early as the first quarter of 2016.
 
Bad Tom is open from 5-10 p.m. Wednesdays, 5-11 p.m. Thursdays, 4-11 p.m. Fridays and 1-11 p.m. Saturdays. The brewery is located at 4720 Eastern Ave., East End.
 

Cincinnati State adds craft beer classes to help grow local job market


Starting this fall, Cincinnati State will offer two classes that are designed to complement the city’s growing craft beer industry. Both classes will be three credit hours and available only to students taking other Cincinnati State classes.
 
Carla Gesell-Streeter, chair of the Communication and Theater Department at Cincinnati State and co-owner of the Hoperatives blog, designed the classes. She’s been writing about Cincinnati’s beer culture for about six years and has seen the number of active breweries and brewpubs here grow from five in 2009 to about 30 by the end of this year.
 
“These classes will help bring exposure to what the professional world of brewing is,” she says. “Right now, if a brewery wants to hire a brewer with experience, they have to hire away from another brewery. The same is true for sales representatives at different brewing distributors. As a community college, we look at the workforce and identify the need. We’re looking to help build up the field and the knowledge basis.”
 
Gesell-Streeter submitted a proposal to the school four years ago for the new classes and recently took a sabbatical to research different programs.
 
BREW 100: Introduction to Craft Beer will be offered for the first time in the fall. The class will cover the history of beer and brewing as well as the different styles of beer. The class will also partner with Rhinegeist to design a beer, which will be brewed and tapped at the brewery. A sales and marketing rep will then talk to the class about possible next steps to roll out the new beer. If another section is added in the fall due to demand and when the class is offered again in the spring, a different local brewery will be invited to work with the class.
 
BREW 160: Sensory Evaluation will focus on cicerone, which is the craft beer equivalent of wine sommelier. There are three different levels of cicerone, with BREW 100 getting people ready for the first level, certified beer server. BREW 160 will focus more on the second and third levels, which deal with how a beer tastes and when a beer doesn’t taste right. At this point, BREW 160 doesn’t have a true pre-requisite, but it will require instructor approval.
 
“These classes aren’t about homebrewing, but more for people who are trying to get into the business of craft beer,” Gesell-Streeter says.
 
If you’re a Cincinnati State student who is interested in either beer class, email Gesell-Streeter at carla.gesell-streeter@cincinnatistate.edu for more information.
 

With building purchased, what's next for Clifton Market?


The Clifton Market co-op recently purchased the old IGA building at 319 Ludlow Ave. in Clifton, completing one phase of a long process to bring a grocery store back to the business district.

The market currently has more than 1,000 members and is aiming for 1,500 by the summer and 2,000 by the time the new market opens near the end of 2015. The co-op has raised about $1.3 million so far, with plans to continue fundraising in the coming months.
 
“This store isn’t just for Clifton, it’s for the whole Cincinnati area,” says Adam Hyland, president of the Clifton Market board. “We want it to be uniquely Cincinnati as well as a celebration of what a grocery can be.”
 
The old co-op model, in which shareowners work in the store, isn’t as popular any more. Clifton Market’s model is a democratic form of ownership, which means that no matter how many shares you own no one can buy out majority ownership and each shareowner gets one vote to elect the board.
 
“When we first approached the community about a grocery store, they wanted a sustainable, long-term system, and that’s exactly what this model is,” Hyland says.
 
Shareowners vote for board members, and a general manager will then report to the board on how the day-to-day business is going. One of the things that will set the market apart from other grocery stores will be its staff, which Hyland says will be chosen carefully in order to help provide the ultimate grocery store experience for customers.
 
The 23,000-square-foot space will be a full-service grocery, with everything from natural, healthy options to Pampers and dog food. The market will have what the community needs and will also boast the community’s culture, Hyland says.
 
Highlights will include special attractions, signature products and featured products, all with a housemade objective. Keith Wicks, a grocery market analyst who has been helping develop Clifton Market, says that the market will partner with a few specialty retail partners — specifically bakery partners — to bring back the old stone-ground, German master pastry ways.
 
“There are lots of really interesting foodie-related things happening in the business district in general, and we hope that the market helps make it a foodie’s destination, both locally and nationally,” Wicks says.
 
Since Clifton’s IGA closed, the Ludlow Avenue business district has lost about 40 percent of its business, Wicks says. He hopes that Clifton Market will bring back that traffic and help promote the street’s other retailers and services.
 
“We’re all in this together,” Wicks says. “As the anchor goes, so goes the district.”
 
The market’s business model projects that it will see about 10,000 transactions per week, with about 15,000 people coming through the door. That kind of foot traffic will benefit not only Clifton Market but the surrounding businesses as well.

Apart from turning a profit, Clifton Market has another objective: to work cooperatively with the Ludlow Business District. Even though retailers like Ludlow Wines will offer some of the same items as Clifton Market, it won't be a competition for customers. Ludlow Wines will have something that Clifton Market doesn't, and vice versa. Plus, if you need to pick up a bottle of wine for dinner, you'll also be able to pick up the things you need to make dinner from the market.

“Part of the idea of the co-op business model is that you’re community-minded,” Hyland says. “Most businesses are about how much profit can you get out of one location, but we’re focusing on how much profit can we help bring to the business district. As a business ecosystem, we all rely on each other.”
 
The goal is to have the market open in about six months, but that timeline could change depending on how quickly additional fundraising money comes in. Once the funds are raised, interior and exterior remodeling will happen quickly.
 
If you’re interested in being a shareowner in the Clifton Market, you can purchase shares online for $200. There is also an option to make an owner loan to the market, which will be paid back 100 percent in full.
 
Clifton Market is hosting a foodie event on June 14, when the market’s wholesaler, produce supplier and Boar’s Head will be providing tastes of a wide range of products. They’re still looking for vendors to participate; those interested can contact Charles Marxen, field developer, at 614-432-6663.
 

Brewery culture continues to grow, this time in Walnut Hills


Chris Mitchell, formerly of Listermann Brewing, has been homebrewing for about 15 years. After talking with a number of partners, he decided to pursue opening The Woodburn Brewery, which will debut later this summer at 2800 Woodburn Ave. in Walnut Hills.
 
“The neighborhood is up-and-coming and looks like it will be a nice entertainment district here pretty soon,” Mitchell says.
 
The building, which was built in the early 1900s, is just over 4,000 square feet and is being designed as taproom/brewery with capacity for about 120. Mitchell says they’re going to cater to the taproom experience and customers won’t feel like they’re in a brewery, even though they’ll be able to see the tanks through a giant glass wall.
 
“Lots of breweries feel like you’re sitting in a brew house, but we’re going for a different experience,” he says. “This will be somewhere everyone wants to go.”
 
The Woodburn Brewery will open with 4-6 flagship beers, including a pineapple saison, a cedar IPA and a German pilsner. The recipe and name of the German pilsner, which will be released at opening, comes from Espelkamper Brau in Germany — the owner of that brewery won four gold medals for the pilsner and has signed over the rights and name to The Woodburn Brewery.
 
Mitchell also plans to release seasonal beers and sours as well as bourbon barrel releases, experimental batches and limited-edition bottle releases. The Woodburn Brewery will also be serving from Brite tanks, which means that the beer is carbonated and served from the same tank.
 
There are plans to distribute to bars, restaurants and retail stores, but Mitchell says they’ll start small with a few select spots. When the brewery opens, there won’t be a food menu, but there a light appetizer menu is in the works.
 
The Woodburn Brewery will partner with Firehouse Pizza and local food trucks to feed their customers in the first few months, Mitchell says, and there are talks of a cidery/restaurant in the future.
 
“We’re excited to see the explosion of breweries happening in Cincinnati,” Mitchell says. “We’re also excited to see Cincinnati restored to its original brewery status. In its heyday, there were a ton of breweries here and Cincinnati was known for its beer. We’re excited to be part of it and to see lots of new faces pop up.”
 

Mayday space in Northside becoming restaurant and live music venue


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

"Everyday kind of place" featuring Southern comfort food comes to O'Bryonville


Margaret Ranalli, owner of Enoteca Emilia, opened her second restaurant in O’Bryonville, Son of a Preacher Man, on Feb. 7. The property at 3009 O’Bryon St. features a menu of Southern comfort food and a bar menu with a plethora of bourbon.
 
The 2,500-square-foot restaurant is in the space that was formerly Eat Well Café & Takeaway, whose owner, Renee Schuler, maintains a limited interest in Son of a Preacher Man and helped develop the fried chicken recipe.

Renovations included back-of-house plumbing and kitchen equipment as well as retro light fixtures, vintage wallpaper and a bar in front.
 
Ranalli landed on the Southern restaurant concept after extensive travels in the South. She’s always used music as a reference for Son of a Preacher Man.
 
“When I think of the South, I think of Memphis and Nashville and the musicality of those cities,” Ranalli says.
 
The name stems from the 1968 Dusty Springfield song “Son of a Preacher Man,” and at one point Ranalli had a number of employees who were sons of preachers. So the concept stuck.
 
The menu’s staples are traditional fried chicken and biscuits. But there’s also a bourbon BBQ meatloaf, low-country shrimp and grits and sandwiches served on biscuits. The bar menu has already expanded since opening, featuring about 25 rotating bourbons and 12 bourbon cocktails.
 
Son of a Preacher Man also offers takeout. Ranalli says she wanted to focus on the physical restaurant space as well as carryout in order to be an all-around neighborhood place.  
 
“I wanted to bring more casual food and a fun bar scene to the neighborhood,” she says. “People are always looking for an everyday kind of place with good food.”
 
After Easter, Son of a Preacher Man will be opening at 11 a.m. for lunch seven days a week.
 

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.
 

New brewery focusing on dark beers coming to Northern Kentucky


When Eric Bosler moved to Bellevue about 15 years ago, he missed the Colorado beer scene he knew and loved from his childhood. So he and fellow homebrewer Ron Sanders decided it was time to start their own brewery.
 
Bosler has worked in a number of local bars and restaurants over the years, and Sanders has a sales and marketing background. The pair liked the idea of a neighborhood brewery.

"I live in Bellevue, currently work at Virgil's Cafe and see a need here and in Northern Kentucky for such a place," Bosler says. "We want it to be welcoming to all types of people and give Bellevue somewhere to walk to and get a good pint."
 
Darkness Brewing will focus on dark beer — stouts, porters and browns — because Bosler and Sanders love dark beer. There will be some surprises, too, like a dark beer that tastes like a light beer. Bosler and Sanders plan to start with five or six styles for in-house sales only, with featured guest taps as well. Darkness will also offer lighter options, like a wheat or an IPA, in order to broaden their appeal.
 
The brewery will be in a 4,200-square-foot industrial-style space that was originally a car lot and showroom at 224 Fairfield Ave. The front part of the building will be the public taproom, and Bosler and Sanders will brew in the back. The taproom will offer to-go growlers, and there will be games and an outdoor space.
 
The interior will have an open, industrial feel with exposed rafters and duct work, as well as a stage for live music. There won’t be a food menu, but customers can bring in food from local restaurants.
 
Bosler and Sanders will be starting a Kickstarter campaign in the next few months to help them raise the remaining funds needed to open Darkness Brewing in September.
 

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.
 
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