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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.
 

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.
 
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