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Blend brings community space, coffee shop, restaurant to Covington

On March 3, Bobby and Stephanie Kimball will open their coffee shop/restaurant, Blend, in Covington. The space, which is located at 14 E. Fifth St., will seat 30, and food will be available to-go and for delivery via bicycle.
 
Bobby, a former chef, left the food industry about 10 years ago to become a comedian and magician. And in the last few years, he and Stephanie, who has also worked with food, decided it was time to open a restaurant of their own.
 
“In the last few years, it hit me that life is too short, so why not do what we’ve been dreaming of doing,” Bobby says.
 
Blend is a family affair, with Bobby and Stephanie’s daughter helping manage the restaurant, as Bobby still has a full schedule touring and performing. He built all of the cabinets, and all of the magazine racks are made from reused pallets.
 
Blend’s menu will focus on simple but gourmet dishes, and will feature four salads, two soups and about eight sandwiches for lunch. A few highlights include the quinoa salad with seasonal vegetables and a roasted garlic vinaigrette; vegetarian French onion soup that can be made gluten-free and vegan; and the Adult Grilled Cheese with aged cheddar cheese, sliced apples and prosciutto on sourdough bread.
 
There’s also a breakfast menu, including the Eggamuffin sandwich and maple wrap, which is a thin buttermilk pancake wrapped around eggs, sausage and a potato hash that you can dip in warm maple syrup.
 
All of Blend’s food is fresh and locally sourced, including the coffee, which is from Seven Hills Coffee in Blue Ash. Bobby is even smoking the turkey in-house and making the sausage.
 
“We want Blend to bring a sense of community to Covington,” Bobby says. “It’s really coming into its own, and it’s such a great area with lots of revitalization going on.”
 
Bobby wants Blend to be a place where people come to gather, and not just for great coffee and food. He plans to host pop-up dinners featuring local chefs and open the place to local groups for meetings.
 
“We’re reaching out to drug outreach groups who want to hold meetings for the friends and family of addicts,” Bobby says. “We think it’s important for families to have somewhere to go.”
 
Bobby also wants to see local art on the two large, bare walls in the dining area of Blend. Artists will receive 100 percent of the sales. If you’re interested in displaying your work at Blend, contact Bobby at 812-912-1448.
 
Blend’s hours are Monday-Thursday form 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., with later hours on Friday and Saturday for music and open mic nights (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.).
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Go Dutch design firm moves to OTR

In May, brand design firm Go Dutch will move from Covington to its new home across the river. Its new location will be in the Emanuel Center Building at 1380 Race St. in Over-the-Rhine.
 
The firm will occupy a 4,600-square-foot space on the third floor. The move will allow Go Dutch to hire additional employees to add to its current staff of 10.
 
Formerly the Emanuel Community Center, the 143-year-old building was converted into office space for entrepreneurs by Grandin Properties.
 
Go Dutch, which was founded in 2011 by a group of former Landor employees, is doing most of the space design work themselves. The firm is working with Aubrie Welsh Interiors, a frequent collaborator of theirs, on the job.  
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Moerlein adds restaurant to OTR taproom

Today, Christian Moerlein is holding a soft opening for Wienerwurst Mike Frankfurtary, a new restaurant at the brewery’s Over-the-Rhine taproom. The event marks the 161st anniversary of the founding of the original Moerlein brewery, and the 10th anniversary of the brewery’s renaissance.
 
The 19th-century deli and frankfurtary is named for the roaming sausage vendors who sold to hungry saloon goers in the OTR of the past. They were called Wienerwurst Mike.
 
The concept for the restaurant came from S&J Bakery and Café in Findlay Market.
 
Moerlein has tapped a new beer for the occasion, 10/161 Winter Warmer Ale, which was aged in bourbon barrels for three months. The beer has notes of vanilla and, of course, bourbon, as well as sharp oak tannins and rich chocolate malt.
 
Food will be served during taproom hours, plus Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday until midnight; and Sunday until 7 p.m.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Westfalen Lofts II offers condo living on future streetcar line

Westfalen Lofts II, located at 1426-1438 Race St. in Over-the-Rhine, is an extension of Westfalen Lofts. The project involved converting seven buildings into one condo development.
 
When completed, Westfalen II will include 33 for-sale units, plus about 4,000 square feet of commercial space right along the streetcar line. A few of the first-floor units have the ability to be sold as live/work spaces.
 
Units range in square footage from 531 square feet for a studio to 1,366 square feet for a two-bedroom. Prices range from about $90,000 to about $300,000. Units will go on sale in March.
 
Every fireplace in the original seven buildings was preserved for the development. Other features of the condos include sliding barn doors, stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors and open floor plans.
 
Northpointe Group is the developer on the project.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Fresh Thyme markets coming to Tri-State

A new specialty grocer will soon be opening two locations in Cincinnati—one in Oakley and one in Symmes Township. The Fresh Thyme Farmers Market is like an outdoor farmers market but combined with a full-service grocery store.
 
Fresh Thyme has plans to open more than 60 stores in the Midwest in the next five years. Its first location in Mount Prospect, Ill., will open this spring, followed by eight more in 2014, including the Cincinnati locations in the fall.
 
The stores are roughly 28,000 square feet, and 80-100 employees will be hired for each Cincinnati location.
 
Fresh Thyme focuses on locally sourced, organic fruits and vegetables. The stores will have more than 400 bins of natural and organic bulk items, plus small batch locally roasted coffee beans. Stores will also have a butcher shop with all-natural handmade sausage and meat raised without hormones, specialty sections with gluten-free and dairy-free products, a full dairy with local items, a Hops & Grapes department with wine and local craft beer, varieties of vitamins, supplements and natural body care products, and a section with ready-made healthy meals for on-the-go.
 
Follow Fresh Thyme on Facebook and Twitter (@FreshThymeFM) for updates on the Cincinnati stores.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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NKY Galaxie Skateshop opening second location in Northside

Galaxie Skateshop has been operating in Newport for just over six years, and on March 1, owners Gary Collins and Zach Kincaid are opening their second location in Northside.
 
“Galaxie will be a centrally located place for skateboarders to grab their gear, meet up and help dispel the myth that skateboarding is a negative activity,” Collins says.
 
Collins and Kincaid remodeled and renovated the 1,200-square-foot shop on Hamilton Avenue themselves. The shop will sell anything and everything that revolves around the skateboard culture, from boards and apparel to footwear and accessories.
 
“We’ve always wanted to do a shop in Northside,” Collins says. “It’s the most diverse and artistic part of Cincinnati that attracts a lot of skateboarders, musicians and creative types that have connections to the skateboard culture.”
 
Galaxie is 100 percent skater-owned, Collins says, who has been in the skateboarding business for more than 20 years. He’s been running Instrument Skateboards for the last eight or so, and he plans to carry it and other local brands like Absorb, Hella Cool, OATW, Curb Cult and Revive in the store.
 
Collins is also the driving force, both financially and physically, of the Newport DIY skatepark Under471.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Nourish Yourself offers healthy, home-cooked meals to busy clients

After a 15-year career with P&G, Cherylanne Skolnicki became a certified health coach and started teaching people how to eat better. In January 2011, she started Nourish Yourself, a service that will cook dinner for you.
 
“The concept of a home-cooked meal resonates with busy families,” Skolnicki says. “Clients want to feed their families fresh, healthy, unprocessed, seasonal food, but struggle with the time and skills to cook those meals. We take the guesswork and challenge out of it.”
 
Nourish’s core team has three employees who focus on everything from customer care to menu development to marketing. A team of nine cooking partners go into clients’ homes and make the magic happen, Skolnicki says.
 
Clients are matched with a Nourish cooking partner in their area—they shop for and prepare meals in your kitchen. Meals are prepared all at once, and Nourish even cleans up afterward.
 
Nourish offers flexible pricing that starts at $159 per week plus groceries, and you choose the service date. Nourish’s winter menu is available on its website, with 50 entrée choices, many of which are freezable, plus fresh salad greens and homemade dressing.
 
The menu changes seasonally, but favorites include healthy makeovers of restaurant dishes, such as chicken enchiladas, Thai basil chicken and buffalo chicken meatballs. Skolnicki says both Nourish’s risotto with asparagus and peas and bison burger with Cabernet caramelized onions and white cheddar are also popular.
 
“Busy is the new reality for today’s families,” Skolnicki says. “We hope to make dining in the new normal for busy, health-conscious households. And cooking is one of the aspects of a healthy lifestyle that you can now outsource and still get all of the benefits.”
 
Today, Nourish serves the Greater Cincinnati area and northwest Arkansas (because of P&G employees), but Skolnicki hopes to expand to other markets in 2014.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Design firm announces second annual neighborhood speaker series

Urban Awakening’s second year kicks off February 27 with a symposium on Price Hill. Speakers include Mayor John Cranely, and Ken Smith and Diana Vakharia from the Price Hill Will.

Urban Awakenings is geared toward sponsor Bayer Becker’s clients—the developers, architects, landscape architects and construction companies that are looking for new opportunities.
 
Last year’s series included Walnut Hills, Northside, Over-the-Rhine and College Hill. This year’s hasn’t been set in stone, but Bayer Becker is looking at several neighborhoods, including Bond Hill, Madisonville and Northern Kentucky.
 
“We’re trying to stay on top of neighborhoods with momentum, those that are utilizing form-based code and other developments,” says Mike Dooley, associate at Bayer Becker.
 
After last year, many neighborhoods and companies have approached the firm and have asked to be included in the series.
 
“Having different neighborhood organizations ask if they can be involved gives encouragement to continue in the future,” Dooley says.
 
The program this year is very similar to last year’s, but Bayer Becker is looking to bring in city leadership to get their perspective on different neighborhoods and share their vision for the future. This would be in addition to representatives from the neighborhood as well.
 
The symposium is invitation only, but Bayer Becker plans to make the presentations available to the public, and make them more about the city than about the firm.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Cincinnati Saints pro soccer team moving downtown

Starting this season, the Cincinnati Saints professional soccer team will be playing at Stargel Stadium at Taft High School. The stadium is two blocks from Over-the-Rhine’s Music Hall, Washington Park, restaurants, bars and breweries; plus there are two parking garages within walking distance.
 
The 3,000-seat stadium is ready to go, and there is room for expansion if needed, says David Satterwhite, president and CEO of the Saints.
 
“We want to show Cincinnati what a true soccer atmosphere can bring to the city,” he says. “Bringing the soccer community that has always been in the suburbs will help them see what they’re missing out on in OTR.”
 
About 60,000 kids play soccer in the Greater Cincinnati area—10 years ago, Cincinnati was second in the country in youth participation on a per capita basis.
 
“There’s a huge market for kids playing soccer here,” Satterwhite says. “We’ve created a really good team with really good players, and the natural progression has led to a professional team.”
 
The Saints’ men’s team was founded in August 2009, and the women’s team in December 2011. Currently, the indoor teams play at the Tri-County Soccer Plex, and the outdoor teams have played the last few years at Withrow High School.
 
The Saints organization has been looking for an outdoor stadium that will allow them to sell alcohol to fans, but they haven’t been able to find one. They’re currently working with local breweries to host tailgate parties before the games in order to enhance the fan experience.
 
The first men’s home game is May 23—tickets are available online.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Core Resources adding jobs to handle Family Dollar account

Last year, Over-the-Rhine-based construction and development company Core Resources added to its team to handle its Family Dollar Stores Inc. account. In 2013, the company had 48 employees; by the end of 2014, that number will grow to about 70.
 
In the next four months, Core Resources plans to add an administrator, a developer, two project managers and 15 field managers.
 
This year, Family Dollar is building out 550 stores across the country. Core Resources is developing and building free-standing stores for the retailer in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee, West Virginia, Illinois and Missouri. Over the past two years, it has finished 12 stores, and currently has 60 projects in various stages of development and construction.
 
Most stores aren’t in Cincinnati, but three have been completed locally, one is under construction and two more are approved for construction. All work is being handled out of Core Resource’s OTR office.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Pete Rose to host fundraiser for Incline Theater

On March 30, Pete Rose will be hosting an event at the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts to raise money for East Price Hill’s Incline Theater. Rose, a former Cincinnati Red, grew up on the West Side of the city and wants to help raise money for the theater.
 
Currently, 90 percent of the $5.6 million has been raised for the 220-seat performing arts center. Cincinnati Landmark Productions hopes Rose’s event will help them reach their goal.
 
In the fall, city council voted to issue up to $1.7 million in economic development revenue bonds to help pay for the project, which also includes a 140-space public parking garage. New market tax credits through the Cincinnati Development Fund will give the project $2.1 million, and $750,000 has been promised from private donors.
 
The event is being held on the eve of Opening Day, and Rose will share stories from his baseball career and tales of growing up on the West Side. Each person who attends will also get an autographed copy of "4192: The Crowning of the Hit King," which is a documentary about Rose.
 
The Incline Theater plans to offer 112 individual shows per year, plus a subscription season that is designed to complement the Covedale Center’s season. There will also be a short summer season and one-night-only concerts, comedy events and cabarets.
 
Construction is slated to begin on the theater in the spring, with the grand opening set for spring 2015.
 
Tickets range from $65-125. For tickets, call 513-241-6550 or visit cincinnatilandmarkproductions.com.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Covington's Mutual Insurance Company building to become apartments

Covington’s old Mutual Insurance Company building will soon see new life. Ashley Commercial Group hopes to start work on the $2.5 million mixed residential and commercial project by mid-March.
 
The 100-year-old building sits at the corner of Madison Avenue and Pike Street, across from Covington’s old city hall, which is being converted into a luxury hotel. Built in 1915, the building has been vacant for most of the past decade. There have been several efforts to renovate it, and it has been home to several businesses, including German Mutual Fire Insurance Co. and Goetz Jewelers.
 
The project will include first-floor commercial space and 15 upscale, one-bedroom apartments on the second and third floors of the building. Work is expected to take about 10 months to complete.
 
Last January, the city of Covington purchased the building for $430,000, with plans to develop it. Ashley became involved shortly after, and is working with the city and the Northern Kentucky Catalytic Fund to get the project going. It’s also working with Duke Energy on a grant to fund part of the project.
 
The city of Covington still owns the property, but Ashley has plans to buy it.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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New downtown apartment tower will offer 111 units and lots of amenities

Construction started this month on Seven at Broadway, a 111-apartment building at the corner of Seventh Street and Broadway downtown. NorthPointe Group, North American Properties and the City of Cincinnati are working on the $21 million project.
 
It’s being constructed on top of an eight-story parking garage that was built by Al. Neyer in 2003, and added onto in 2010 to accommodate the needs of Procter & Gamble. The company is handling the design and build services for the apartment tower, and John Senhauser Architects is the lead architect for the project.
 
The apartments will have high-end finishes, including an open floor plan, an abundance of natural light, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. Studio apartments will be about 630 square feet, one-bedroom apartments will range from about 960-970 square feet, and two-bedroom apartments will range from 1,080-1,700 square feet. Residents will also have access to a concierge service, workout room and rooftop common space.
 
The apartment tower is designed to appeal to executives and baby boomers who want to live downtown. Developers are planning to seek LEED certification on the project.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Life Learning Center gets new home

The Life Learning Center in Covington is moving to the old Stewart Iron Works building at the corner of Madison Avenue and 18th Street. When redevelopment is complete this summer, the Learning Center will move from its current space on 15th Street to its new location.
 
The redevelopment of the long-time vacant, blighted brownfield was made possible by a partnership among the Catalytic Fund, Corporex and the city of Covington. The city is taking care of the site's brownfield development, including installing new windows, and Corporex is redeveloping for the Learning Center.

Currently, the Learning Center is located in a 5,000-square-foot building; the Stewart Iron Works building is about 60,000 square feet, but the Learning Center is only redeveloping and occupying about 35,000 square feet.
 
When it moves in, the Learning Center will acquire the building from the city, which purchased it in 2009 with assistance from the Kenton County Fiscal Court.
 
In its new home, the Learning Center will continue to deliver its six yearly programs that target at-risk people and help them overcome employment challenges and financial obstacles, but it hopes to be able to offer the programs more often. Its holistic approach includes educational programs and other resources that help transform lives.

There will also be a child care center and fitness/wellness facility in the new Learning Center.

"We serve many single moms here, and now, they can participate in our programs and bring their kids to our on-site child care center," says Erich Switzer, the Learning Center's director of awareness and fundraising. "We've also had a lot of people request a fitness center and programs, so we're excited to be offering that too."
 
The Learning Center’s move is the last of three development projects along Madison in the last year. In October, Walgreens relocated to the corner of Madison and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard/12th Street; in December, the Kentucky Career Center announced its plans to move from 4th Street to the old Robke site at 1314 Madison.
 
Both the Kentucky Career Center and the Learning Center's projects are joint results of a deal that began in 2009 and involved multiple agencies, including the city, the Catalytic Fund, and other state and federal agencies.

The Learning Center is funding the renovation through a capital campagin—$2.4 million of the $3.2 million goal has already been raised. To donate, visit the Learning Center's website or send your donation to: Life Learning Center, 315 E. 15th St., Covington, Ky., 41011.
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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Walk-up Mexican restaurant coming to OTR

Andrew Gomez learned to make salsa from his father, who learned to make salsa when he was growing up from his mother. 
 
“I don’t make it like my dad, and he doesn’t make it like my grandma,” Gomez says.
 
At the end of March, Gomez will be opening his restaurant, Gomez Salsa, on 12th Street in Over-the-Rhine. It will be a to-go window only, with late night offerings until 3 a.m.
 
Gomez’s salsa is a thick, hand chopped salsa that lets you see exactly what you’re eating and adds texture to his tacos. Gomez Salsa will specialize in not just salsa, but tacos and another dish called the Turtle Shell, which consists of rice, beans, cheese, a tostada, sour cream, lettuce, meat and salsa seared closed with melted cheese.
 
“We want to be a convenient, fresh Mexican food option in OTR,” Gomez says. “It’s exciting to be one of the first new places over here after Rhinehaus to help get things going. We’re excited to be part of it.”
 
He also wants to offer customizable build-your-own taco bars for catering. And he plans to offer beer and food pairings with next-door neighbor HalfCut, which is owned by Gomez’s friend Jack Heekin.
 
Keep your eyes peeled for Gomez Salsa's Indiegogo campaign in the next few weeks. One of the offers will be a food and beer pairing, probably for happy hour, Gomez says.  
 
By Caitlin Koenig
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