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Fern Studio provides plants, home decor for growing College Hill

A former College Hill gas station is now home to Fern Studio, a plant design studio that also sells a variety of home décor. Fern opened on May 1.
 
“Fern Studio began as a daydream,” says owner Megan Strasser. “I wanted to create a space that would combine my love for unique plants while celebrating independent designers and artisans.”
 
The gas station had always interested Strasser, but her father was the first to see and pursue the building’s potential. Her parents have experience in turning old buildings into something new—years ago, they purchased an old bank building, gutted it, renovated it and then lived in it.
 
Strasser says she is inspired by the Japanese concept of wabi sabi, which is defined as appreciating the imperfections of nature and the transience of natural beauty.
 
Aside from plants, Fern Studio also sells a curated collection of items for the home, including blankets hand-loomed in Mexico, small-batch candles with a 10 percent donation to animal rescue, baskets hand-woven in Africa and handmade textile wall hangings. Outside of the shop, Fern has created plant installations for restaurants and a few small businesses around Cincinnati, as well as custom arrangements for special events.
 
In the future, Strasser hopes to hold artist-run workshops in the space and eventually add a greenhouse.
 
“College Hill is an incredibly diverse neighborhood with enormous potential,” Strasser says. “I’m lucky to be among a wonderful group of business owners who are invested in the community. And I hope that I can be part of bringing more people up the hill while introducing them to the important and quality small-batch, handmade work currently being produced.”
 
Fern Studio is open Thursday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Tuesday and Wednesday by appointment.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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La Soupe donates soup to local organizations

Cincinnati native Suzy DeYoung dreamed of opening a soup kitchen to feed the hungry, but since she still needed to make a living, she decided to open a restaurant instead. La Soupe, a for-profit soup kitchen with a heart for nonprofits, opened in Anderson Township on April 29.
 
“Soup allows you to take what is given to you, and with homemade broths, becomes a meal,” DeYoung says. “It’s a slow cooking process that at 55 years old, it fits my lifestyle better than the stress of line cooking and off-site catering.”
 
DeYoung’s “aha moment” for her restaurant came after reading two books about entrepreneurship and nonprofits—The Art of Giving and Starting Something That Matters.
 
“I realized that if Blake Mycowskie, the founder of TOMS shoes, could create a business model around giving away shoes, I could create one around giving away soup,” she says.
 
For every quart of soup sold, La Soupe pays it forward and donates soup to local nonprofits in the Cincinnati area. Organizations like the Drop Inn Center and Our Daily Bread have partnered with La Soupe, and the restaurant is looking for more agencies that need help.
 
Every year, DeYoung reads the book Stone Soup to a group of fourth graders at St. Gertrude’s, and the students bring items they like in soup—beans, vegetables, noodles. She then makes soup with the ingredients, they sell it and donate the money to charity.
 
La Soupe’s rotating menu features croque du jour, therapeutic broths and seasonal specialties. There’s also a soup that was created by a 10-year-old and Chef Jean-Robert de Cavel through the Make-A-Wish Foundation on the menu.
 
“I want this to be the first La Soupe, and I would love for other cities to see this as the first business model where food is made using surplus that would otherwise go to waste,” DeYoung says. “If we creatively use these products to make interesting soups and stews, and give back to our less fortunate neighbors, it will become a wonderful full circle program.”
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Bourbon bar opening this summer in Northside

In June, Northside will welcome a bourbon bar to the neighborhood. The Littlefield, which will be located at 3930 Spring Grove Ave., is an idea that has been in the works for about five years.
 
“All four of us owners live in Northside,” says co-owner Matt Distel. “It’s where we choose to spend our time and money.”
 
Two of the owners are developers, and have started to get control of a number of buildings in the neighborhood. The Littlefield will actually be housed in one of those buildings.
 
The physical space is only about 400 square feet, but Distel says that the outdoor deck and patio are about triple that size.
 
Distel says they’re also looking to partner with Northside nonprofits and art organizations to focus on what makes the neighborhood fun and interesting.
 
“We want to highlight those organizations, and maybe have drinks specials or nights where we can help promote their events,” he says.
 
The Littlefield won’t just focus on bourbon, but will serve regional and craft-based beer and other alcohol, as well. Cocktails will be bourbon-based, with housemade bitters, and some will be cask-aged. Distel and the other owners are partnering with Shoshana Hafner, the former chef at Honey, on the menu, which will feature her take on typical bar food.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Eli's Barbeque, Maverick Chocolate opening at Findlay Market

Two new businesses, Eli’s Barbeque and Maverick Chocolate, will soon be opening on Elder Street at Findlay Market. Both businesses signed three-year agreements for their respective spaces.
 
Eli’s BBQ got its start at the market years ago, and the new permanent location will be open until 9 p.m. six days a week. Maverick Chocolate is a craft chocolate maker that produces product direct from cocoa beans. It will be the first bean-to-bar chocolate company in Ohio.
 
The market’s main goal is to increase foot traffic and business activity on the south side of the market, and improve visibility for existing businesses like Saigon Market. In the coming months, additional storefronts will be built out on the south side, and all storefronts on that side are expected to be occupied, except Luken’s cold storage building and the Mr. Pig building.
 
There are also plans to bring in a café for one of the market’s more prominent spaces at the corner of Race and Elder.
 
The two new businesses follow a months-long renovation of three storefronts, 129-133 Elder St., on the south side of the market. Each space is about 1,000 square feet, and were made possible by a $500,000 contribution from the city’s Department of Trade & Development.
 
Findlay Market is still looking to fill the third storefront. If you’re interested in leasing it, please contact Joe Hansbauer or call 513-604-7567.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Kintimate Costumes expands in owner's Northside home

Lucia Jackson, a busy mother and corporate retail consultant, went to school to design wedding gowns. But somewhere along the line, her love of costumes turned into a business she runs from her Northside home. On June 14, Kintimate Costumes is holding a mod-themed open house to celebrate its expansion.
 
Jackson’s three-bedroom home at 1522 Knowlton will soon be full of costumes. Since its founding in 2011, Jackson has operated Kintimate from the house’s attic, but her inventory has grown exponentially since then.
 
“The costumes started to burst the seams of the attic, and I knew it was time to expand,” Jackson says. “No matter how much inventory I have, this house will be able to store it.”
 
With so much growth in Northside, Jackson says she’s in a prime location. Twenty new apartments will soon be built next door to her, and another 80 are going in across the street. “I hope that those 100 people will need costumes,” she says.
 
Jackson has something new in store for costume lovers and party-goers. Kintimate will now be offering a party planning option, with parties held at Jackson’s house or with Kintimate throwing a party at another location.
 
Although she hasn’t done any advertising for the party planning, she has already hosted a number of gatherings, from bachelorette parties to baby showers to a wedding reception for 500 guests.
 
“My friends and I recently dressed up as Disney princesses for a 4-year-old’s birthday party,” Jackson says. “We showed up, had cake and read the kids stories. It’s probably the most beautiful thing I’ve ever done.”
 
For the 2014-2015 school year, Kintimate is partnering with Cincinnati Public Schools through School Aids. Jackson wants to work with schools’ theatrical departments to teach kids how to find costumes, research them and make them rather than hiring a company like Kintimate to make them. With that, when a school is finished with a costume, Kintimate will then rent or sell it, with the proceeds from each sale or rental going back to the original designer.
 
“I would love to see us working with students from DAAP and independent designers,” Jackson says. “They could use the program as a great jumping off point. And I would love to see my costumes attached to a number of designers.”
 
Jackson has big dreams for Kintimate—in a few years, she would love to see a number of locations, each with a team of designers busy making costumes.
 
“When I was a teenager, my dad told me that I couldn’t party the rest of my life,” she says. “I think that’s the only thing he’s ever been wrong about.”
 
For starters, Kintimate will be open three or four days through the weekend, from noon to 6 or 7 p.m. It will always be available for appointments, and parties can be booked any time. 
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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German cafe opens in Newport

When Elena Williams moved to the United States from Germany in 2005, she didn’t think she would open a café. But after working as a manager at Panera and a barista at Starbucks, she realized she wanted to own a restaurant. On April 9, Katharina’s Café and Konditorei opened on Overton Street in Newport.
 
“I had this location in mind for a café, along with a few others,” Williams says. “When it became available, I knew it was perfect.”

Williams did some remodeling of the space, including painting, adding walls and a breakfast nook, as well as purchasing new tables and chairs and installing free Wi-Fi.
 
Katharina’s, which is named for Williams’ grandmother, serves breakfast and lunch with items made fresh daily by her mother and cook Christine Hambuch. The menu is made up of soups, salads and sandwiches, as well as a few main dishes like Tortellini in Rahmsosse (tortellini in a ham and cream sauce).
 
Williams says the chicken salad baguette and Belegte Brötchen (your choice of Black Forest ham, smoked ham, salami and cheese on a roll with sandwich fixings) have been customer favorites so far, as well as the potato soup.
 
Katharina’s also serves coffee and espresso with beans from Newberry Bros. Coffee, which is down the street. The restaurant resembles traditional German cafés, and has the atmosphere of gemutlichkeit, which is a coziness that inspires a cheery, peaceful mood.  
 
Katharina’s is open Tuesday-Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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BLOC Ministries to own, operate restaurant in Lower Price Hill

In May, BLOC Ministries will open a community-centered restaurant in Lower Price Hill. Blochead Pizza, which will be located at 712 State Ave., will be owned and operated by BLOC, but with local staff and management.
 
The 1,200-square-foot restaurant will employ about 13 people, and is slated to open the first week of May.
 
“We want to bring a community space that people can walk to, and gather and eat,” says Rev. Dwight Young of BLOC.
 
BLOC is also looking to bring two or three more businesses to State. It is starting a print shop and T-shirt printing company, and has its sights set on a building for the arts and training, and another for a new-businesses incubator.
 
“We’re interested in bringing jobs and training to the community that will ultimately help the community,” Young says. “There are great people who live here, and we want to partner with them and other investors to make a difference here that will affect the city.”
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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New Braxton Brewing Co. will combine beer, education, technology

Evan Rouse has been brewing beer in his dad’s garage for the past six years. After a visit to Upland Brewing Co. when he was 16, he fell in love with craft beer. Evan’s success in brewing competitions caught the attention of Richard Dubé, former vice president of brewing and quality at Christian Moerlein.
 
Later this year, Evan and his brother, Jake, and father, Greg, along with Dubé, will open Braxton Brewing Co. in Covington. They will start off with local production, and then expand to other areas of the Midwest.
 
“Looking across the industry and what’s happening in Over-the-Rhine, we saw the number of craft beer fans out there,” Jake says. “We’re looking to bridge the gap between Ohio and Kentucky, and prove that the river isn’t an ocean between us.”
 
Although Evan and Dubé will handle the brewing, Jake will be behind Braxton Brewing’s digital branding, and Greg is working on the brewery’s educational approach. Jake, a manager at ExactTarget, plans to launch a mobile app that will leverage what technology can provide in the craft beer industry.
 
“We want to help revolutionize beer, and we hope this app will do that,” he says.
 
Braxton Brewing partnered with Miami University for the digital branding aspect of the company, and Neltner Small Batch worked on the company’s physical branding.
 
The group also wants to focus on educating their customers. “We want to put the customer at the center of our brewery by creating an atmosphere around craft beer and learning about craft beer,” Greg says. “We think it’s important to keep people as close to the product as possible.”
 
The brewery will be housed in an 11,000-square-foot space on Seventh Street in the Pike Street Corridor. There will be between 15-20 beers on tap at any given time, with Braxton’s core brands and rotating seasonal and specialty beers as well.
 
Evan and Dubé designed the brewery’s 20-barrel, three-vessel system, and are now working with manufacturers on the actual product.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Underground dining experience expanding to restaurant, urban market

Hen of the Woods’ owners Nick and Kim Marckwald started out doing underground dining experiences with family and friends in 2012, but it quickly grew into something much bigger. They’ve done the Over-the-Rhine farmers market, Findlay Market, private events and pop-up brunches. And in the next year, Hen of the Woods will have a physical restaurant space in the old J.B. Schmidt building in OTR.
 
“We looked everywhere for a space,” Nick says. “Nothing felt right until we found this building on Main. We knew it would let us reach our fullest potential. And Main is the next phase of the OTR scene, and it fits our personality and energy.”
 
J.B. Schmidt occupied the building for about 100 years. The contracting company left in 2012, and Urban Sites purchased it, but it’s been vacant since then.
 
The space, which includes the storefronts at 1432 and 1434 Main St., is just under 10,000 square feet. In the 1970s, the three-story building at 1432 was partially torn down and a warehouse was built by the city to house the drainage lines before they put them under OTR streets, and Schmidt eventually acquired it. It’s connected to 1434, which is a shed-type building with many different pockets, Nick says.
 
The first floor of 1432 will be HOTW’s urban market (beer and wine to-go, prepared food, an old-school butcher shop, smoothies, coffee, tea) and the second floor will be an extension of the dining room, overlooking Main Street. The Marckwald’s offices will be located on the third floor of the building. The “shed” will become a large dining room, bar and three-season patio with seating for 50-60.
 
HOTW’s serves modern American cuisine with a farm-to-table aesthetic.
 
“We like to take American classics and bend them on their ear,” Kim says. “We do lots of surprising touches and like to celebrate every element of whatever we’re using.”
 
The Marckwalds met in Colorado nine years ago, where Nick was an executive chef and Kim was bartending at the same restaurant. They’ve eaten their way through New York City and Chicago, and love to look at the menus, drinks, clientele and décor of the places they go. HOTW will showcase what’s important to them: service, presentation, fun and, of course, food.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Hang Over Easy brings breakfast and bar concept to Short Vine area

Hang Over Easy, a breakfast joint and bar, will soon be up and running in Corryville. Its regular hours begin Friday, when it will be open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 2:30 a.m.
 
The Pedros brothers opened Mick’s Diner in Columbus in 2002, and after some fine-tuning of their concept, turned it into Hang Over Easy in 2006.
 
“This is a passion project that has evolved into something much bigger,” says Joe Pedro.
 
The Pedros had the opportunity to work in the Short Vine business district for Bearcat Block Parties, and saw the area’s potential. They opened Dive Bar in 2011, which gave them a chance to get their feet wet. It seemed logical that Corryville would be a great spot for a second Hang Over Easy.
 
The 5,000-square-foot restaurant and bar has 30 beers on tap, 12 of which are local. It also has craft root beer and Jameson on tap. The Pedros get sausage for the restaurant once a week from a local farm, and source as many eggs locally as possible.
 
Hang Over Easy makes its own corned beef in-house for its CBH, which is hoe fries (hash browns) topped with corned beef, two eggs and toast. It’s also known for the Dirty Sanchez—scrambled eggs, chorizo, hoe fries and chili con queso in a tortilla, topped with sour cream, salsa, cheese and more queso.
 
Although Hang Over Easy is known for its breakfast, it also serves lunch and dinner, plus a small bite bar menu. Its Black ‘N’ Blue Burger is a bleu cheese stuffed burger topped with onion jam and candied bacon. There’s also chicken and waffles, which are drizzled with a Frank’s Red Hot maple glaze.
 
“We hope to bring our own style of food and hospitality to Short Vine,” Joe says. “It’s a little off-the-cuff, with the down-home goodness of eating at your mom’s house, but with a house party afterward.”
 
Hang Over Easy will be have its grand opening on April 25, with music and other events throughout the weekend.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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AlvaEDU leaves Florida, relocates to downtown Cincinnati

AlvaEDU Inc. will soon relocate from Boca Raton, Fla., to the Scripps Center downtown. The company plans to spend at least $120,000 on equipment and improvements to the space.
 
Initially, 17 employees are moving to Cincinnati, and AlvaEDU plans to add 50 new jobs over the next three years. The new jobs would add $3 million in annual payroll to the city.
 
In exchange for committing to stay in Cincinnati for 10 years, AlvaEDU is getting an income tax credit that is equal to 45 percent of the city income tax revenue from the new jobs for six years.
 
The company develops online learning programs and works to integrate technology into education.
 
AlvaEDU, which was founded in 2012 by Tim Loudermilk, has worked with 800 universities, and 1,800 of the largest companies in the world in more than 60 countries.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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A Tavola opening second location in Maderia

In April, Over-the-Rhine restaurant staple A Tavola will open its second location in Maderia. The restaurant, which is located at 7022 Miami Ave., will feature a large, seasonal outdoor bar and dining area in addition to the 2,400-square-foot restaurant.
 
The Madeira location will have the same menu as the OTR restaurant. It will also have the same imported Neapolitan wood-fired oven from the Ferrara family in Naples. But the Maderia A Tavola will also have the first Italfornia Bull Oven in the United States.
 
The new oven allows A Tavola to add a new type of pizza to its menu—Roman style, which has a thinner and crispier crust.
 
“We’re the first restaurant in the country to have one of these new ovens,” says Nicolas Wayne, owner of A Tavola. “We hope to eventually add this type of oven to our OTR location as well to maintain consistency.”
 
A Tavola’s signature fig and prosciutto pizza, which is topped with dates stuffed with house sausage wrapped in bacon and covered in the house tomato sauce, is a customer favorite. The restaurant also offers vegetarian options, such as the arancini, which are breaded and fried risotto balls stuffed with mozzarella, and the eggplant slider.
 
“We hope to bring a neighborhood restaurant to Madeira where people can enjoy a family meal, a fun night out or a celebration without having to spend a lot of money,” Wayne says.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Entrepreneur opens clothing and accessory boutique in OTR

After living in New York City for 11 years, Libby Andress came to Cincinnati and decided it was time to open her own boutique. LIBBY, a clothing and accessory shop, opened in fall 2013 in Over-the-Rhine.
 
“I’ve always been a boutique shopper, their imagination just amazes me,” Andress says.
 
The 600-square-foot, single-employee shop sells clothing and accessories, including handmade and custom jewelry and repairs. In the future, Andress hopes to offer other items like home goods, candles, perfume and fine jewelry.
 
Andress mainly sources her inventory from New York City and Los Angeles, where fashion is on the forefront. Her goal is to provide accessible shopping options that are on the pulse of the newest fashion being produced around the world.
 
“I stock off-brand fast fashion, which is a burgeoning market in fashion,” she says. “The market is inspired by all branches of the fashion industry. For example, it’s just begun to explore sustainable fashion, and I sell some clothes made from bamboo to reflect that.”
 
LIBBY is open Thursday through Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. You can visit her Etsy shop here.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Local brewer paying homage to Taft with new brewery, restaurant

There will soon be a new brewery on the scene in Over-the-Rhine. Kevin Moreland, former head brewer at Listermann/Triple Digit Brewing Company, is opening Taft’s Ale House in the historic St. Paul’s Church complex.
 
Built in the 1850s, the church has been abandoned since the ’80s. The city acquired the church and attempted to repair it, but the funds were never there. 3CDC bought it in 2010 for $350,000, and later made about $450,000 worth of structural repairs, including a new roof and some internal work.
 
Several other tenants were considered for the space, including offices and other commercial options.  
 
Taft’s Ale House pays homage to the 27th President of the United States and Cincinnati native William Howard Taft. The $8 million brewery is looking to open this fall or winter.
 
Taft’s beer will be made from locally sourced ingredients and is inspired by OTR restaurants, bars and specialty food retailers. There will be 12 beers on tap—three staples chosen by patrons, and the others will rotate seasonally. There will also be a menu with pub fare, which will include tri-tip steak sandwiches.
 
All three floors of the church will be utilized by Taft’s. The first floor, or Big Billy’s Basement, will house the brewery’s barrel-aged projects and rotating taps of local beer. The second floor will be the main beer hall with a view of the entire brewing process, including the eight 20BBL fermenters and eight 20BBL serving vessels behind the bar, separated by a catwalk. The third floor, or Brauzzine, will be the dining room that overlooks the beer hall.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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LISC Community Advantage loans to benefit small businesses

This year, Local Initiatives Support Cooperation received its Community Advantage license from the Small Business Administration. The brand-new program is one of eight LISC markets in the country to offer this type of loans.
 
The loans range from $50,000 to $250,000, and can be used by small businesses for working capital, real estate, inventory, equipment and tenant improvements. Businesses must be for-profit, and even startups can qualify, as long as they have two years of experience in the industry and a strong team and plan in place.
 
“Community Advantage is an SBA-guaranteed loan program to help entrepreneurs launch or expand small businesses, particularly in low- to moderate-income communities,” says Patrick Duhaney, program officer for LISC.
 
LISC’s program now offers existing businesses and startups that are viable, but for one reason or another aren’t strong enough for traditional bank financing, access to the capital needed in order to launch or expand.
 
Community Advantage has yet to finance any businesses, but there are a few on the horizon, Duhaney says.
 
LISC has been operating in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky since 2000. In that time, it has awarded more than $75 million in grants and loans, including loans that supported the new Anna Louise Inn, single-family and senior housing projects, and Covington’s Pike Star building.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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438 entrepreneurship Articles | Page: | Show All
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