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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.”
 

Partnerships help Madisonville get healthier


Two new programs are emerging from the Madisonville Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation’s partnership with Interact for Health and Go Vibrant, as a 5K training program and walking routes will soon be part of the neighborhood’s effort to get out and get active.
 
MCURC and Interact for Health are creating a training program to help participants prepare for the neighborhood’s third annual 5K run/walk, scheduled for Sept. 12. The twice-weekly coordinated group walks and runs will be lead by experienced trainers and will start with 1-mile routes, with the distance gradually increasing throughout the summer.
 
Sessions are open to anyone who wishes to participate, which will allow people to exercise in a group setting with others from the neighborhood, with no experience required.  
 
MCURC hopes to increase the number of 5K participants from 140 to 240.
 
“We hope that the training program turns into a more permanent part of the neighborhood’s community life,” says Sara Sheets, executive director of MCURC. “It would be great to continue the walking and running groups after the 5K. We also hope we can grow the 5K ever year. We want to keep enticing more and more Madisonville residents to take part in a healthy and fun event, and it has the potential to grow to include more health-related initiatives.”
 
The partnership with Go Vibrant will allow MCURC to install visible, marked walking routes throughout Madisonville on 1-, 2-, 3- and 5-mile routes. The routes will be available on printed maps as well as online and will include historical points of interest in the neighborhood.
 
“I can imagine linking the routes with potentially new routes in nearby communities like Oakley, Hyde Park, Mariemont and Fairfax, which would create a robust system of pedestrian routes on the East Side,” Sheets says.
 
In 2012, Madisonville’s Quality-of-Life Plan called for the promotion of walking, hiking, biking and other physical outdoor activities in the neighborhood as part of its health and wellness strategy. Along with the 5K and the walking routes, the development and promotion of the Little Duck Creek Trail is progressing, and this winter the neighborhood hosted Family Fitness Fridays at the Madisonville Recreation Center to encourage families to play together. The next of these events is March 13.
 
This summer, there are plans for Tuesdays in the Park at Bramble Park to further encourage healthy living.
 

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.
 

Former West End school to become senior apartments


Indianapolis-based TWG Development will soon be redeveloping the former George E. Sands Montessori school, located at 940 Poplar St. in the West End, into affordable housing for seniors. TWG is in the process of purchasing the school from Cincinnati Public Schools for a total of $150,000, with construction expected to begin in April.
 
“The West End community has been very open and supportive of this project,” says Andrea Kent, development associate at TWG. “The development will bring safe, quality, affordable housing to the seniors of the community and will help spur further development in the neighborhood.”
 
Opened in 1975 in Mt. Adams, Sands Montessori was the first public Montessori in the U.S. Two more sites were opened and then combined in 1979 and moved to the West End. The school itself moved to Mt. Washington in 2002, and the four-story building has sat vacant since 2007.
 
The $12 million historic adaptive reuse project will yield 65 senior apartments, ranging from 400 to 900 square feet. The studio, one- and two-bedroom units will all have updated mechanical, electrical and plumbing as well as full kitchens, washer and dryer.
 
In line with historic adaptive reuse guidelines, TWG plans to preserve the building’s auditorium, corridors, windows, exterior and part of the gymnasium. The auditorium will remain an auditorium and be available for resident use. There will also be a community room and fitness room as well as leasable office space.
 
Residents must be 55 or older and must meet income requirements. Although it’s not an assisted living complex, Cincinnati Area Senior Services will be on-site and will provide transportation, case management and Meals on Wheels for residents.
 

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.
 

Number of new developments planned for College Hill business district


A number of new developments are in the works for the College Hill business district along Hamilton Avenue and West North Bend Road.
 
Model Group and Episcopalian Retirement Homes are developing a $10.5 million mixed-use project at the corner of Marlowe and Hamilton Avenues. When finished, Marlowe Court will include 5,000 square feet of street-level retail as well as 53 one- and two-bedroom senior apartments above. If the project receives tax credits in June, it's slated completion date is January 2017.
 
Plans are still in the works for the Saint Francis Group to develop 7.5 acres at the north end of the business district into housing and retail. College Hill Community Urban Redevelopment Corp. (CHCURC) plans to renovate five buildings to create one- and two-bedroom apartments above first-floor retail. A 100-space parking lot is in the works behind the properties on the west side of Hamilton between Cedar and Marlowe Avenues.
 
The project is to begin at the end of February, starting with the demolition of several buildings that will allow for outdoor dining for restaurants as well as a pedestrian walkway from the parking lot on Hamilton.
 
Seventeen storefronts along Hamilton will also receive $175,000 worth of facade improvements, including new doors, windows, lighting, signage, awnings and paint.
 
"We hope that these new developments create positive momentum for other private investment in the business district," says Mike Cappel, president of CHCURC. "We further hope that a revitalized business district helps to spur additional reinvestment in the great single-family homes throughout the community."
 

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.
 

Northside chosen to participate in national EPA workshop


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that 22 communities across the country, including Northside, will participate in its Buildings Blocks for Sustainable Communities program. The program gives communities technical assistance in order to pursue development strategies that support small growth and sustainability goals as well as encourage local economic development.
 
EPA staff and national experts will conduct one- to two-day workshops from April to June focusing on the specific sustainability tool that each community requested: Bikeshare Planning, Supporting Equitable Development, Infill Development for Distressed Cities, Sustainable Strategies for Small Cities and Rural Areas, Flood Resilience for Riverine and Coastal Communities.
 
Northside’s workshop will focus on Supporting Equitable Development.
 
“Northside faces a common problem that many communities across the country are facing,” says the U.S. EPA's announcement. “When communities grow and develop using smart growth principles, as we’ve seen Northside successfully do in recent years, existing community members can sometimes be priced out of the local housing market.”
 
The neighborhood is looking to evade this challenge by focusing on development of affordable housing for a range of income levels. The EPA hopes to take the lessons learned in Cincinnati and apply them to other communities that are going through the same types of development challenges.
 
The workshops are held in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Transportation through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. The organizations work together to coordinate investments in housing, transportation and environmental protection.
 
Since 2011, the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program has provided assistance to 130 communities in 40 states. As a result, community groups, local governments and tribal governments have increased their capacity to successfully implement smart growth and sustainable approaches that protect the environment, improve public health, create jobs, expand economic opportunity, prepare for effects of climate change and improve the overall quality of life.
 

Martin & Marilyn Wade's ambitious OTR development is underway


Much of the development in Over-the-Rhine has been spearheaded by large organizations like 3CDC and Urban Sites. But private developers are coming on the scene now, and they're not just renovating private residences.

Martin Wade, owner of Rookwood Pottery, and his wife Marilyn are working to redevelop a large swath of OTR at Walnut and East Liberty streets, where their proposed $75 million project will include the historic Grammer’s German restaurant. Phase I is underway on existing properties along Walnut between 14th and Melindy streets, with 21 apartments to be completed by June.
 
The Wades have been acquiring OTR property since 2007, when they purchased Grammer’s from former Vice Mayor Jim Tarbell and tried to run it as a bar and meeting space. It closed in 2011.
 
Their ambitious three-phase, mixed-use project will include a total of 100 apartments, 40,000 square feet of office and retail space and four single-family townhomes.
 
Phase II sits just north of Melindy, which will be turned into a pedestrian street. This portion of the project will include demolishing part of Grammer’s complex to make way for new construction, but part of the restaurant’s façade and the bar will be preserved. The first floor will include 6,000 square feet of retail, with 16,000 square feet of office space on the second floor and 24,000 square feet of commercial space and eight apartments on the third floor. There will also be 157 parking spaces of parking both underground and on street level.
 
Another part of Phase II will be four single-family townhomes on Clay Street, each with its own garage. Wade hopes to break ground on the second phase by the third quarter of this year, with construction finishing in 2017.
 
The Phase III will include 68 two- and three-bedroom apartments behind the Vine Street Kroger on the west side of Walnut. The entire project is slated to be completed by 2019.
 
Craig Gossman of the Gossman Group is the project architect, Megen Construction Co. is the general contractor and Urban Sites will be the property manager.  
 

Reds stadium adding features ahead of Opening Day, MLB All-Star Game


Great American Ball Park is undergoing a number of changes this winter, including the addition of a new bar, to help prepare for the MLB All-Star Game on July 14. The $4.5 million renovation is slated to be completed by Opening Day, April 6.
 
The Bootlegger bar is being added on the first-base side of the lower-level concourse in the area that houses Skyline and LaRosa’s. Those dining options will remain, though Penn Station will move to the concourse on the third-base side.
 
The bar will give fans the feel of walking into an old-time bar. Inspiration for the design came from the bar behind the lower-level blue seats at the Reds’ former home, Riverfront Stadium, which was based on the beer garden that Boss Cox, who was part of Cincinnati’s political scene at the turn of the century, ran in Over-the-Rhine.
 
The Bootlegger will offer liquor and beer, including some craft beer options, but it won’t have as many craft options as the existing bar on the third-base side.
 
The second major renovation this winter has been the upper level Riverfront Club, which was previously a white-tablecloth dining option. It will now be called The Handlebar and feature covered seating that's exposed to the outdoors.
 
In addition, the concession stand facades along the concourses on the first- and third-base lines are getting facelifts. They'll look more like actual storefronts, with brick fronts.
 
The Reds are also creating Retail Row at the main entrance, which will create a space for retail kiosks down the third-base concourse to the entrance to Gapper’s Alley. Retailers include game-used merchandise, a Reds Hall of Fame stand, regular Reds retail merchandise, a Reds Community Fund booth for Split the Pot raffle tickets, a season ticket holder booth and a stand for the Reds Heads kids club.
 

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.
 

New single-family housing project coming together in Northside


Over the past 11 years, there have been several larger single-family developments in Northside — Northwind by Potterhill and Rockford Woods and Virginia Place, which were both CitiRamas by In-Line Development. Large land parcels further from the business district became available and attractive for larger for-profit developers, and about 100 new homes have been built and sold.
 
Infill, nearer to the central business district, is harder to come by. The lots are smaller and disconnected and can take years to assemble into potentially larger projects.
 
Five new single-family houses will soon be developed at the northwest corner of Fergus and Lingo streets in Northside. The Cincinnati Northside Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation (CNCURC) received the first parcel of land for the project in 2006 and purchased the remaining three parcels by 2013.
 
Northside was chosen for the development because of its character and to add diversity to its new housing stock. Most of Northside’s residential projects in recent years have been apartments.
 
“Much of Northside’s success is due to the diversity, creativity, compassion and involvement of residents and business owners,” says Stefanie Sunderland, executive director of CNCURC. “As an organization, CNCURC strives to provide different housing options for the growing eclectic population interested in relocating to the community or wishing to establish more permanent roots in the neighborhood.”
 
D-HAS Architecture Planning & Design partnered with Great Traditions Land & Development Company for the project, which is part of D-HAS’s City Series. The project is being funded through the presale of the homes.
 
The two- and three-bedroom houses will have detached garages and will range in size from 1,600 to 2,000 square feet. Prices will start in the mid-$200,000 range. Potential homebuyers will be able to choose from 12 different exterior options and various floor plans. There will also be an option for a third floor and accessory dwelling unit that would expand the house to 3,000 square feet and raise the price to about $350,000.
 
A groundbreaking date hasn’t been set yet, but it's expected that construction on each house will take about six months to complete.
 
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