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Picnic and Pantry opening second location in OTR, focusing on catering in Northside


Picnic and Pantry, a Northside staple for the past five years, will no longer serve as the neighborhood’s specialty grocery store. Instead, the location on Hamilton Avenue will become the headquarters for owner Lisa Kagen’s catering business, while a new retail location will open in three weeks at 1400 Republic St. in Over-the-Rhine.
 
“We love cooking food, but trying to keep up with the retail part is distracting us from our catering goals and the lunch crowd we plan to serve downtown,” Kagen says.

Over-the-Rhine Community Housing (OTRCH) and restaurant owner Thunderdome approached Kagen about bringing a storefront to OTR, specifically to the building being rehabbing at 14th and Republic across from Salazar Restaurant & Bar. The 770-square-foot OTR store will be menu-driven, with a variety of grocery essentials and pet food as well as specialty, artisan, local, organic and conventional foods.

All of the packaged sandwiches, salads and snacks that Northside customers have grown to know and love will still be available at Melt Cafe.
 
As for the Northside storefront, it will become Picnic and Pantry’s office and expanded commissary to accommodate the growth of the catering side of the business. It will be a place to meet clients and showcase pictures, platters and linens, Kagen says.
 
Picnic and Pantry’s handcrafted counter and two registers will be moved to Melt to better serve customers during the checkout process.
 
“We love Northside, and that’s why we’re centering our business operations here,” Kagen says. “We’re committed to supporting the historic business district.”

Kagen is working with students from Miami University, OTRCH and Acanthus Group, the general contractor, to get the store up and running by mid-March.
 

Rhinehaus owners investing in Pendleton community


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

Former homebrewers bringing something unique to Northside


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

"Hungry" entrepreneurs raising food truck awareness


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

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


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

Pure Romance to run downtown pop-up shop throughout February


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

Chicago transplant bringing new restaurant, sense of community to OTR


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

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

Nine Giant to expand local craft beer growth into Pleasant Ridge


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

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

Northside church renovations to yield brewery, theater, event space

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

Findlay Market creating incubator kitchen to help food entrepreneurs


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

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

O Pie O opening at DeSales Corner in East Walnut Hills


Cincinnati’s first pie bakery plans to open its doors this spring in East Walnut Hills. O Pie O will occupy the space at 1527 Madison Road at DeSales Corner.
 
“We want to be a gathering place for friends, families and neighbors, and we can’t think of a better place for a pie shop,” Lou Ginocchio II says, O Pie O’s co-founder and marketer.
 
Ginocchio’s partner Ian Sobeck is O Pie O’s chef and baker. The intention all along was to open a physical shop, but Sobeck had to figure out how to make pies for a lot of people. Once he got that figured out, he went down to Findlay Market and set up a tent to start selling.
 
O Pie O’s menu will feature sweet and savory pies that will rotate on a seasonal basis. On the sweet side, there will be fruit, custard and nut pies as well as small pastries made from Sobeck’s pie crust. Pies can be served a la mode or in pie shakes. The savory menu will feature pot pies, quiches and tortas, plus smaller savory options like empanadas and samosas.
 
The pies will be the cornerstone of the menu but will be complimented by soups, salads, wine, craft beer, coffee and ice cream. Lunch and dinner will be served during the week, with brunch in the mornings and a limited late-night menu.
 
O Pie O is currently available at Findlay Market, Sprout Market & Eatery, Park + Vine, Reser Bicycle Outfitters and Clifton Natural Foods. Ginocchio says they plan to continue these relationships after O Pie O opens.
 
“We have a lot in common with them,” he says. “They’re in energized neighborhoods and want the same kind of future in Cincinnati where small businesses not only thrive but are good neighbors.”

O Pie O plans to have an event at their space on Pi Day, which is March 14, even if it's before the shop is officially open.
 

Newport coffee shop expanding into the space next door


Newport’s Carabello Coffee launched a Kickstarter campaign last month to raise $40,000 to purchase and renovate the next-door storefront, as well as its current space, for a new space totaling about 2,500 square feet. Since opening in 2013, Carabello has grown by about 80 percent over the past year.
 
By purchasing the building next door, owners Justin and Emily Carabello will be able to build a new roastery, training lab and slow bar. They also plan to add a larger kitchen, office and dry goods storage area.
 
“The slow bar in the new space will allow us to focus on brewing manually and put more of an emphasis on process and discussion,” Justin says. “It will be like a shop within a shop with two bars — one a social cafe devoted to curated items and signature drinks that we don't currently offer, and the other will be a slow bar for coffee geeks."
 
The slow bar, which will be located between the main café and roastery, will have limited hours at first to really focus on the education of coffee drinking.
 
“We’ve been able to introduce people to specialty coffee by doing small things like only brewing single cups in Clever Coffee Drippers after 11 a.m. and offering classic-sized espresso drinks, as well as Chemex brewing,” Justin says. “We’re able to talk to people about coffee and be a very approachable coffee shop.”
 
Carabello’s roastery will be moved to the prime spot in the building and be clearly visible from the sidewalk and the street. A new area will be designed for wholesale customer training, classes and staff cuppings, as well as work stations for customers who want to stay and work for a few hours.
 
The Carabellos are working with Work Architecture + Design, a smaller firm that specializes in historic adaptive reuse projects. Renovations will include gutting the current space and change the floor plan. Justin says the two buildings were separate but were joined together on the deed at some point. He plans to blow a hole in the brick wall that separates the two spaces and connect them internally.

"We hope our expansion will help to further economic development in the Monmouth Street business district," Justin says.

The Kickstarter campaign ended Dec. 30 and beat its goal, raising over $42,000.

Carabello will remain open during the renovation process and hope to have both spaces fully operational by early fall.
 

Covington caterer partners with local businesses for food endeavors


After moving to Covington a few months ago, Four Seasons Catering is embedding itself in the local community by partnering with emerging businesses.

On Jan. 15, Four Seasons will take over the food service at Gateway Community & Technical College and create a gourmet but affordable menu for students and faculty. They’re also working on a menu for Braxton Brewery, which is slated to open this spring. And soon customers will be able to stop in at Four Seasons' storefront location and try items from Braxton’s upcoming menu.
 
The new location is 11 W. Seventh St. in downtown Covington, after Four Seasons opened in Florence two and a half years ago. The caterer did over 100 weddings, corporate events and private parties last year and has even more in the works for 2015.
 
“When we moved to Covington, we saw the renaissance happening here and wanted to be part of that,” says chef and owner Michael Gayon. He graduated from Le Cordon Bleu, where he studied to be a saucier, and has worked in a number of high-end restaurants in NYC and Seattle.
 
The storefront contains a 1,200-square-foot commercial kitchen, a front-of-the-house meeting room for clients and a to-go-only deli and bakery. The menu features soups, salads, sandwiches and baked goods made by Gayon’s wife, Melinda. Her specialty is a cinnamon roll that Gayon says is "to die for."

Four Seasons is also working on creating other local partnerships, including with a local limousine company for VIP jet service, and will continue creating pastries and soups for Left Bank Coffeehouse, with the hopes of expanding the shop’s food offerings. 
 
Gayon also plans to host two "flash kitchen" dinners. The first, Chill, is on July 31 and will feature a 10-course meal of gourmet iced foods. The second, Dark, is set for Dec. 31, when guests will be seated and then all the lights turned off. Servers will have on night vision goggles, and all of the food will be eaten without utensils.
 
“These dinners are a blast,” Gayon says. “It’s fun to mess with people’s minds and to serve something like grilled watermelon cut into different shapes.”
 
Four Seasons’ deli is currently open 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday. During the summer, it will be open on Saturdays, too, with expanded hours when Braxton opens.
 

E+O Kitchen opening in popular Hyde Park spot


The restaurant most recently known as Dancing Wasabi will soon be a new concept when E+O Kitchen, whose name is taken from Chicago-based Chef Rodelio Aglibot’s restaurant Earth and Ocean, opens later this month.
 
The restaurant, located at 3520 Edwards Road off Hyde Park Square, has seen a number of different concepts in the past few years, including Beluga and sushi restaurant Dancing Wasabi. Owners Mike Hama and Lee and Nick Grammas like to redesign the space every few years to keep things interesting.
 
Aglibot is designing the menu, which will be Asian-inspired with a Latin flare. Local Chef Owen Maass will head up the kitchen. He's the former chef at Cumin in Hyde Park and is returning to town after a stint in Columbus.
 
The restaurant space is being redesigned to let in more light and will be more organic and rustic looking. The building used to be a house, and the ceilings have been raised and the windows have been opened up.
 
E+O Kitchen will serve lunch, brunch and dinner and will have a moderately priced menu.
 

Circus Mojo bringing another brewery to Northern Kentucky


Paul Miller, owner of Circus Mojo in Ludlow, Ky., is once again driving economic development in the city. This spring, he plans to open Bircus Brewing Co., which will combine the circus with a brewery.
 
Miller got the idea for a bircus after visiting Ghent, Belgium, where performers at Circusplaneet earn money to operate their circus by selling beer. He got permission to license the concept and plans to use Belgian-inspired recipes for Bircus beer.
 
He also partnered with Marc Wendt of BrandFuel Co. to design the Bircus concept from the ground up.
 
When Miller bought the old Ludlow Theater five years ago, there wasn’t much going on Ludlow — there wasn’t even a grocery store. Now, there’s a grocery store, a new art gallery, two coffee shops, three restaurants and a soon-to-be distillery.
 
“Ludlow used to have more bars than anywhere in Greater Cincinnati,” Miller says. “It was a railroad town, and there were three different shifts on the railroad, with about 10 bars that workers frequented. We want Bircus to be a place where people come and can find a beer that they like, a beer for the every man.”  
 
Bircus will take over part of the theater, which is the current home of Circus Mojo. Miller also owns an old church around the corner from the theater, and he plans to move the Institute of Social Circus to the church to make room for the brewery and taproom.
 
In order to open the brewery, a number of renovations need to be done to the theater, including installing a ticket booth and marquee out front, putting on a new roof and creating a VIP balcony for private events in the old projection booth. Miller says that not much needs to be done to the building’s interior because it was a factory after the movie theater closed and was stripped down to the bones.
 
Miller recently got the building on the National Register of History Places. Because of that designation, Bircus will receive state and federal historic tax credits for renovation purposes. Miller also was approved by the Kentucky Department of Transportation for a tourism development loan to help with the project.
 
Ten percent of the profits from Bircus will be donated to the Social Circus Fund, which helps underwrite programs for children in Ludlow, nursing homes and hospitals. Bircus will also help bring more circus performers to the area, and Miller hopes to sell enough beer to bring a circus from Belgium to Ludlow.

And the bar or restaurant that sells the most Bircus beer during a given period will get a visit from Circus Mojo performers.
 
“I want to drive more international traffic to Greater Cincinnati,” Miller says. “I want to keep leveraging unique opportunities and expertise.”
 
Bircus is still looking for a brewmaster, and Miller is planning to hold interviews on Jan. 31.
 
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