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Over-the-Rhine : Development News

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New beer, food trucks highlight 35th year of Taste of Cincinnati

Many locals are familiar with Taste of Cincinnati, but for the 35th year, there are a few changes to the event. New features include the Taste of Cincinnati Experience; Tastings, Tappings and Tours by Christian Moerlein; and Food Truck Alley.
“For one weekend, Taste of Cincinnati is the biggest nightclub in town,” says Patrick Sheeran, VP at the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. “With food, drink, music, rides and games, there’s truly something for everyone.”
Taste of Cincinnati will be held May 25-27 along Fifth Street from Vine to Broadway, and will feature food and drink from 45 area restaurants as well as 70 live entertainment acts. There will also be various rides and games; admission to the event is free.
Taste will feature 10 of Cincinnati’s signature restaurants, including 20 BrixRuth’s Chris Steak HouseDaveed’sOrchid’sThe PalaceTano and Graeter’s, which will feature intimate dining and live music. Chefs from participating restaurants will be on-site for three-hour increments each day, and representatives will also be in the area with samplings and cooking demonstrations. Taste will be located in P&G Gardents at Fifth and Sycamore streets.
Christian Moerlein is now the official beer of Taste of Cincinnati. The brewery will be serving up a handful of its signature beers at the Moerlein Beer Garden on Fountain Square, plus specialty kegs of dry hopped cask-conditioned ales—“Pins and Firkins”—that will be tapped every two hours. Taste of Cincinnati visitors will be offered free one-hour tours of the Christian Moerlein Production Craft Brewery at 1621 Moore Street in Over-the-Rhine.
“Christian Moerlein has deep roots in the city, and has become a resurgent brand,” Sheeran says. “It fits with the event, plus the city is in the midst of a resurgence itself.”
Taste of Cincinnati is also adding food trucks to the event—local food trucks will be taking over North Broadway just off of Fifth Street. Food Truck Alley will feature food from Café de WheelsC’est CheeseEAT Mobile DiningGold Star Chili MobileMellow Mushroom and Sugarsnap!
Apart from adding new events, Taste of Cincinnati will be making a $10,000 donation to the Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State to refurbish its teaching kitchens. The money for the donation will come from the fee local restaurants pay to be part of Taste of Cincinnati, and the event will then match that amount.
“Here in Cincinnati, many of the city’s best restaurants employ graduates of Cincinnati State,” Sheeran says. “We want to help the school, so we can continue to have the great food we have here in town.”
By Caitlin Koenig
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Tom+Chee hopes to expand brand on 'Shark Tank'

On National Grilled Cheese Day, April 12, Tom+Chee founders Corey Ward and Trew Quackenbush announced to the public that they will be appearing on ABC’s Shark Tank. The show features entrepreneurs who pitch their ideas to famous and successful business leaders for investment opportunities.
Ward and Quackenbush started Tom+Chee with their wives, Jenny and Jenn, in 2009 when they served grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup to ice skaters at Fountain Square. A year later, they opened their first restaurant on Court Street; they opened a Tom+Chee at Newport on the Levee in 2011, and one on Walnut Street in 2012. They’ve also recently opened two locations in Louisville—a third is under construction—but they want to expand their brand beyond the Tri-State area.
On the show, Ward and Quackenbush will pitch Tom+Chee to Mark Cuban, media and sports, and owner of the Dallas Mavericks; Barbara Corcoran, real estate; Daymond John, fashion; Kevin O’Leary, educational software; and Robert Herjavec, technology. Their goal is to secure investment and take Tom+Chee global.
Tom+Chee has already been featured in an episode of Travel Channel’s Man v. Food Nation and two episodes of Amazing Eats, and its grilled cheese donut was named one of the Best Sandwiches in America by the TODAY show. It was also featured on CBS’s The Chew.
Look for Ward and Quackenbush on Shark Tank May 17 at 9 p.m.
By Caitlin Koenig
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Bakersfield OTR team to open new restaurant across from The Brandery

Joe Lanni and his business partners have had great success with their Over-the-Rhine restaurant, Bakersfield OTR. They recently expanded their brand to Indianapolis, opening a second Bakersfield on March 11.
And by the end of the dog days of summer, they plan to open another new restaurant on Vine Street: The Eagle Food and Beer Hall.
The name directly relates to the new business' physical space. It will occupy a former Post Office. Since the eagle is the symbol for the United States Postal Service, Lanni thought it would be cool to resurrect the symbol.
The Eagle will serve American fare, with a specialty in fried chicken, Lanni says. There are also plans for a burger and three or four other sandwiches, plus soups and salads. And as the rest of its name suggests, The Eagle will also serve up great beer.
“When we opened Bakersfield, there wasn’t much open on Vine Street,” Lanni says. “We wanted to open there because we liked the plans for the neighborhood, and in time, it did take off. We’ve enjoyed being part of that growth, and want to continue to be part of OTR with our new restaurant.”
By Caitlin Koenig
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Emery lights back up April 12-14

Dance, art and music fill the Emery Theatre in Over the Rhine this weekend to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Contemporary Dance Theatre as well as the return of MusicNOW.

The theatre, which was donated to the city in 1908 thanks to the charitable trust of Mary Emery, is currently owned by the University of Cincinnati and leased to the Emery Center Corporation, which manages the Emery Center Apartments. The theater, a replica of Carnegie Hall, is one of only three remaining halls in the nation designed with perfect acoustics. The Requiem Project: The Emery, a site-specific 501c3 founded in 2009, is working to re-establish the historic space as an event venue and interdisciplinary arts and education center. 

After going dark for the winter months as negotiations continue over the building's future, the theater hosts two major public events this weekend.

MusicNOW's first-ever art show runs in the Emery's gallery spaces through the weekend. It features pieces by Cincinnati natives Jessie Henson and Nathalie Provosty, both of whom currently work out of New York. Sunday, MusicNOW founder and The National member Bryce Dessner makes a special appearance at the Emery for a performance during a gallery party from 4-6 pm.

In addition to the MusicNOW events, the Emery also welcomes the April 13 anniversary gala for the Contemporary Dance Theatre, which was founded in 1972 by current artistic director and local dance icon Jefferson James. David Lyman plays host during the celebration, which features video, photography, costumes and more. 

While the future of the Emery and efforts to revive it remain unclear, at least for this weekend, there's a chance to enjoy an amazing local space being used for all the right reasons--to celebrate the local arts community and its connection to the broader artistic and cultural landscape of our time.

The MusicNOW exhibit and Bryce Dessner performance are free and open to the public.

Tickets for the CDC gala available here.

By Elissa Yancey
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Quan Hapa refines menu, atmosphere on Vine Street

David Le and his business partners, brothers Duy and Bao Nguyen, are known for the traditional Vietnamese fare at Findlay Market’s Pho Lang Thang. But the trio wanted to bring Asian street food to Vine Street.
Quan Hapa, an Asian gastropub, opened the week before Christmas. “Hapa” is the word for someone who is part-Asian, which is perfect because the restaurant’s fare is a mixture of the best dishes and drinks from Korea, Vietnam, Japan and Hawaii.
The restaurant is small, but comfortable and relaxed, with its menu displayed on a chalkboard.
In the few months it’s been open, Quan Hapa has already adapted based on early feedback. “We felt that things were a bit confusing when we first opened,” Le says. “For the first few months, there was a bit of a lack of identity in our food and the atmosphere.”
Le and his partners no longer serve “street food” on $16 plates. Instead, the food is served in baskets and condiments can be found on the tables. They also revamped the price points of many of their dishes to try and find the balance between the perception of value and the amount of food, Le says.
Le and the Nguyen brothers aren’t chefs, so they’re working with Billy Grise, a trained chef, to fine tune every dish. And you won’t find Pho Lang Thang’s bahn mi at Quan Hapa.
Some of Quan Hapa’s popular dishes include a Vietnamese-style Ramen, a Japanese-style pancake and Bun Bo Hue, which is a traditional soup from the Imperial city of Hue. As far as drinks go, diners like shochu, which has a Korean or Vietnamese vodka, fresh squeezed juice and soda water in it, Le says.
“As the first Asian restaurant on Vine, we wanted to introduce people to traditional Asian fare,” Le says. A few months after Quan Hapa opened, Kaze joined them in Over-the-Rhine.
By Caitlin Koenig
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Just three units left in award-winning Schickel Design Company's Bakery Lofts in OTR

Schickel Design Company recently won a Star Award from the Over-the-Rhine Chamber in recognition of its architecture projects in OTR. The firm’s most recent project is Bakery Lofts, which is located at 1421 Race Street.
“It’s wonderful to be recognized for our overall work in Cincinnati and OTR,” says Martha Dorff, Bakery Lofts’ project architect.
Bakery Lofts was built in the mid-1800s, and housed a bakery for about 100 years. It was originally a mixed-use building with first-floor commercial space and residential units above, but Schickel Design, 3CDC and Graybach Construction have redesigned the building and turned it into nine condos.
The one- to three-bedroom condos range in price from $155,000 to $350,000; and although most of the units are under contract, there are still three available.
William Schickel started the firm in Loveland in 1948; it moved to its current location in OTR in 2005. Schickel Design is known for renovations and new construction projects, architecture, space planning, development, interior design, stained glass, environmental graphics and art consultation.
Other projects completed by Schickel Design include the City Home Cincinnati project, City Home Race, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Chapel of the Holy Child and Peace Place at the hospital’s Liberty Township campus, Good Samaritan Hospital’s Dixmyth Lobby and Main Street.
“As a company, we see a bright future for Cincinnati, and great growth for it and cities like it,” Dorff says. “It’s geographically beautiful and a great place to live and work. It’s a city that people want to move back to and raise a family.”
The city is hosting a ribbon cutting for Bakery Lofts on Thursday at 10 a.m.
By Caitlin Koenig
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CORE Resources wins Star Award for job creation

Every year, the Over-the-Rhine Chamber awards a handful of businesses for their strides in categories like Property Development, Nonprofit of the Year, New Business of the Year and Business of the Year. This year, CORE Resources won in a new category, Job Creation of the Year.
CORE—a builder and developer of retail, office, restaurant and healthcare facilities—was founded in 1990. In 2010, it employed nine people; today, CORE has 34 employees and plans to hire 10 more in 2013.
“We’re thrilled to be having a growth spurt and hiring people again,” says President Paul Kitzmiller. “We hope that with further recognition in the community, CORE’s services can help grow the surrounding community and further participate in revitalization.”
For the past few years, CORE has been involved in revitalization and renovation projects in OTR. Some of its OTR projects include the Color Building (home of CORE’s office), KAZE, Quan Hapa and Washington Park. CORE is getting ready to start the renovation of Eli’s BBQ on Vine Street and the apartments above.
At Sixth and Walnut, CORE has worked on the Righteous Room, Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse and Nada. They’re getting ready to open Sotto, and in the next 30 days, they’ll be opening Boca. CORE is also the general contractor for the anchor restaurant at U Square at the LoopKeystone Bar and Grill.
“In the future, we want to be involved with more projects and help create a wonderful neighborhood,” says Kitzmiller.
By Caitlin Koenig
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MOTR owners plan to turn Woodward Theater into music venue

About six years ago, the owners of Over-the-Rhine’s oft-frequented MOTR began looking for a larger space for concerts. And they found one right across the street: the Woodward Theater.
“When we brought MOTR to OTR, we wanted to insert the local music community into the arts and culture discussion in Cincinnati,” says MOTR co-owner Dan McCabe. “By expanding across the street, that discussion gets a little louder.”
MOTR has been the OTR hotspot for free music for the past few years, and the Woodward will help attract larger bands that are too big to play MOTR. The concerts at the Woodward will be ticketed, with advance tickets available.  
“We want to see people from outside Cincinnati to see what OTR is,” says McCabe. “Musicians that play the Woodward will be coming from cities like New York, where the cost of living is high. They might consider relocating to Cincinnati, which has a great support base for musicians and the platform to build a crowd base. It’s also centrally located for touring.”
The Woodward’s new owners also want it to be used as more than a music venue. “I’d love to show films and host private events too,” says McCabe. “OTR is an event-driven neighborhood, and we want the Woodward to be a resource to the community.”
The Woodward has been used in recent years as an antiques warehouse, and hasn’t been an active storefront for a long time, says McCabe. In the next few weeks, construction will begin on the theater’s façade, including getting the lights on the outside working.
McCabe and his business partners are still working on plans for the inside. “We basically have a white box on the inside with a balcony, and there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.”
This year is the Woodward’s 100th birthday—it opened on June 18, 1913. The guys of MOTR have a big event planned for the building’s birthday, so keep your eyes and ears peeled for more information.
By Caitlin Koenig
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Mason design firm sets up office in Over-the-Rhine

For 45 years, Bayer Becker’s civil and transportation engineers, landscape architects, planners and land surveyors have served the Tri-State area. And last month, the design firm opened an office in Over-the-Rhine.
“There’s a commitment to the urban core here in OTR, and we want to be part of it,” says Mike Dooley, an associate at Bayer Becker. “We want to be closer to the clients we work with and new talent.”
Founded in 1968 by Joseph Bayer and Keith “Sandy” Becker, the firm has served a variety of local and national clients and has consulted on projects in the public and private sectors. The OTR office is Bayer Becker’s fourth office in the Cincinnati area (its home office is in Mason, and there are smaller offices in Fort Mitchell, Ky., and Oxford, Ohio).
Bayer Becker’s new office is in the historic Saengerhalle building next to 3CDC and across the street from Washington Park. The firm looked at buildings in the Central Business District, but the opportunity arose in OTR to be near local architects and other design firms, says CFO and Vice President Tim Bayer, who is the son of founder Joseph Bayer.
“There are lots of businesses and entertainment here, which was very appealing to us,” Bayer says. “We want to be part of strengthening the community’s employment and aesthetic aspects.”
Currently, Bayer Becker is doing land surveying on several properties for 3CDC; they’re in the middle of the bidding process on a property in OTR near the casino. Yard House at The Banks was also a Bayer Becker project.
Bayer Becker wants to be a good business citizen and be active in the OTR Chamber of Commerce and be part of other business associations and endeavors in the business community, says Bayer. “Our goal is to continue to strengthen the community through employment, be part of celebrating client success and help improve downtown Cincinnati.”
The firm wants to help continue enriching the community, and later this month, they’ll be sponsoring the Urban Awakenings series, which focuses on four Cincinnati neighborhoods that are dedicated to revitalization and rejuvenation.
“We want to help OTR be a model for other communities,” Dooley says.
By Caitlin Koenig
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Lexington's newest craft brewery brings new brews to Cincinnati

Although there won’t be a West Sixth Brewing taproom or beer garden in the Cincinnati area, beer lovers will still be able to buy the new brewery’s beer around town.
West Sixth opened in Lexington on April 1, and founders Ben Self, Brady Barlow, Joe Kuosman and Robin Sither have already seen the demand for their beer go through the roof. “We’ve had people drive down from the Cincinnati area just to buy our beer,” Self says.
The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area was the last part of Kentucky that West Sixth added to its distribution network—the taproom and beer garden are in Lexington, and West Sixth’s beer is available in Louisville, too.
The quartet has heard from lots of retailers, bars and restaurants that they’re excited to be getting West Sixth’s brews, Self says. West Sixth beer became available locally about two weeks ago. The brewery kicked off its expansion at Cincy Winter Beerfest, which featured the West Sixth IPA and Deliberation Amber.
West Sixth does things a bit differently than other breweries, Self says. It’s the only brewery in Kentucky to can its beers; and Self and his co-founders are not only committed to brewing great beer, but to giving back to the community. They give six percent of the brewery’s monthly profits to local charities and nonprofits to support environmental packaging efforts and rehabilitation projects in Lexington.
You can order West Sixth’s beer at Gordo’s Pub in Norwood and Bakersfield in Over-the-Rhine. You can also purchase it at:
By Caitlin Koenig
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Taste of Belgium expanding, using SoMoLend to fund venture

Jean-François Flechet opened Taste of Belgium in Findlay Market in 2007; four years ago, he expanded his restaurant venture to Columbus’s North Market, and a year and a half ago, he opened a full-service Belgian bistro on Vine. In the next few months, there will be two new Taste of Belgiums in the Cincinnati area—a full-service restaurant on Short Vine near UC, and a waffle counter at Friendly Market in Northern Kentucky.
The Short Vine location is on the first floor of a brand new building that includes 120 apartments. The waffle counter at Friendly Market is the only food vendor in the first phase of the market. It’s right on the edge of phase 2, which is ideal for future expansion, Flechet says.
Taste of Belgium on Short Vine will have a menu very similar to the one on Vine Street, says Flechet. But it will have more affordable options at dinnertime, such as chicken and waffles and bar food.
“There will be a bigger focus on the bar, with both Belgian and Belgian-style beer sourced from local breweries,” he says. Flechet wants to attract the college students who live around Short Vine, which is a different demographic than his customers at the bistro and Findlay Market.
Taste of Belgium is slated to open in early May at Friendly Market, and on Short Vine during the first week of July.
Flechet isn’t going the traditional route for financing his new business ventures. Instead, he’s working with local crowd-sourcing start-up SoMoLend to raise a portion of the funds for the restaurant. He wants to promote crowd-sourced funding as a viable alternative source of financing for small businesses.
“When I opened Taste of Belgium on Vine, it was hard to get financing,” says Flechet. He wasn’t able to obtain a loan from the bank, but the building’s landlord got one through 3CDC. In turn, the landlord charges high rent to recover the loan. The North Market location was financed by a loan from a small business lender who Flechet has been working with for four years.
SoMoLend connects small business owners who are in need of a loan with investors who are looking to make a return on their investments. The organization allows borrowers to get loans from customers, friends and family members. It allows lenders to make a difference on a more local level.
“SoMoLend has been promoted on a national level, but not much on a local level,” Flechet says. He’s trying to get the word out to his customers that he’s using SoMoLend and bring more users to the lending service.
The Taste of Belgium crowd-sourcing campaign launches March 11. If you want to contribute to the campaign and are a customer, friend or family member, sign up on SoMoLend’s website.
By Caitlin Koenig
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City Hall launches app as a community-organizing tool

The City of Cincinnati has taken out the back-and-forth that can occur when residents try to reach them to report issues in their neighborhoods. At the Neighborhood Summit on Feb. 16, Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls announced that the Cincinnati City Hall mobile app is available to the public.
With the app, residents can look up trash, recycling and street sweeping days, and set reminders; locate and report problems by address; bookmark locations for quick reporting; and track the status of reports. City Hall mobile also has GPS, so users can report issues, even without an address. There’s even a searchable map with property owner information, which enables residents to see if a property is occupied or vacant.
A few years ago, residents had to use the Yellow Pages to look up the number for city departments to file complaints, says Kevin Wright, executive director of Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation. The city then implemented a hotline for all complaints, but residents never knew the status of their reports.
“It’s amazing how comprehensive the app is,” Wright says. “If you see a broken window, pothole, graffiti, hanging gutter or anything else that is physically wrong with your neighborhood, street or community, you can report it in an instant. It’s a great tool for neighborhood redevelopment.”
The app can also be used as a community-organizing tool, Wright says. For example, if there is a property owner who historically hasn’t taken care of his or her property, social media can help organize a community and target the property to enforce codes until the property is fixed, which is what neighborhood councils and organizations like WHRF do.
“We’re really putting power in the hands of the citizens of the neighborhoods,” he says.
As with most tech programs, the app has room to grow, too. In the future, it could be linked with Facebook or Twitter, so your friends and followers will know who reported problems and where they are.
Cincinnati residents can download the app in the Apple App Store or download it through Google Play.
By Caitlin Koenig
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Two locals 'frame' OTR in new ways in new shop

Imagine the walls from Professor Dumbledore’s office in the Harry Potter movies—space covered with framed photographs. That’s what the four walls of Over-the-Rhine’s newest business, Frameshop, will look like, but they’ll be covered in framed posters, neon signs, taxidermy and other oddities.
“We want customers to get creative, and we’re trying to do that with a more creative space,” says Frameshop co-owner Jake Gerth.
Frameshop happens to be across the street from Gerth’s apartment. “I wanted a business that would be part of the community,” he says. “We want to let Cincinnati know that people are moving to OTR, that it’s a good place to be.”
The storefront was in pretty good shape when Gerth and his business partner, Jake Baker, rented it—the floors, walls and hand-painted ceiling tiles are all original. The front of the store is the retail floor, where Baker and Gerth will showcase their talents, and their shop is in the back of the building.
While Frameshop isn’t quite finished, Gerth and Baker are excited for their Final Friday opening Feb. 22. They’re going to have a grand opening party that night, and start taking framing orders from customers.
The two Springdale natives have been friends since first grade. After college (Baker went to Ohio University; Gerth went to AIC College of Design in Springdale), they decided to open a business together. They had lots of ideas, but their experience in framing lead them to Frameshop—Baker worked in retail framing for a brief time; Gerth has a creative background.
“You can’t get what we do at Michael’s,” Gerth says. For example, they have an OTR print in a black wood frame made from 100-year-old reclaimed wood from OTR.
All Frameshop pieces will be custom, and the owners plan to turn around orders faster than a typical frame shop that takes about two weeks to complete a job—Baker and Gerth will have orders finished in about an hour.
“Our goal is to have customers come in, drop off a piece, go have dinner and then come pick it up,” Baker says.
Frameshop opens at 6 pm on Final Friday. There will be a DJ, food and tours of the store. Plus, customers can start placing orders that day.
By Caitlin Koenig
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S&J Bakery Cafe updates name, plans for Findlay Market

With a new business name, a liquor license and sole ownership of S&J Bakery Café in Findlay Market, Stefan Skirtz is about to get even more creative with his offerings. Which is saying something for a baker who already serves a blueberry pancake cupcake with maple buttercream icing and topped with a garnish of chocolate-dipped bacon. Mmmm, bacon.

As his storefront nears its third anniversary at the Over-the-Rhine landmark this May, Skirtz remains dedicated to keeping things local and making a stop at his flourishing shop just one part of a varied market experience. 

“The reason why I wanted to come to Findlay Market was to strengthen the Findlay Market experience,” says Skirtz, 44, who grew up in Clifton Heights. “I go out every Saturday and buy our produce for the week.”

Skirtz, who opened the shop with a partner, reports that they spent 96 percent of the capital costs for the business within the 45202 zipcode. After making it through the first year in business, sales doubled in year two. He’s hopeful about the prospects for year three, during which he opened a second location—the S&J Café in the Main Library downtown.

“The sales have been very strong,” Skirtz says. “It’s given us an opportunity to constantly adapt and adjust.”

Adapting and adjusting comes naturally to the entrepreneur who started his working life far from a kitchen. He worked summers at Kings Island, then stayed with the park as its owners shifted from Kings Productions to Paramount and Viacom, where he produced live shows and planned events. 

But the Cincinnati native, who once again lives in Clifton Heights, grew tired of constant travel. He decided to pursue his lifelong love of cooking at the Midwest Culinary Institute, where he could turn his hobby into a career.

Skirtz’s theme park background makes him particularly sensitive to his customers’ feedback, which he has already incorporated into his business plans. For example, the dining room section of the Findlay store was intended for storage, but customers enjoyed having a place to sit and enjoy breakfast and lunch so he made the cheerful space permanent.  

“People instantly started coming down and starting their Findlay Market experience with us,” Skirtz says. Regulars bring their own coffee mugs, cloth napkins and silverware. Some stop in for the same menu items every Saturday at 8 a.m. sharp; others make S&J a midway break during their trip; still others end their shopping with a leisurely lunch. 

“It’s really about listening to your guests,” says Skirtz, who works with a wide range of market and local vendors, from Coffee Emporium (which created a special blend for S&J) to Bender and Eckerlin Meats for sandwich fillings.

Feedback has also led Skirtz to sell his bread in demi-loaves—customers told him that whole loaves were too big for them to finish. He’s also expanding the shop’s weekday hours to 6 p.m. to accommodate a second baguette baking in the afternoon; baguette-lovers pushed for an option to stop by S&J on their way home from work to buy a warm loaf.

Skirtz was also granted a liquor license this month as part of the newly formed Findlay Market Entertainment District, and is deciding how to incorporate it into his plans for rebranding, which will include a new menu, brunch, special programs and live entertainment.

One thing is for certain: Skirtz will continue to see Findlay Market as a “destination attraction,” reminiscent of his theme park days. “My goal is that anybody who comes in my door and eats my food, I want them to go into the Market House and start shopping,” he says. 

By Elissa Yancey
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OTR's Cogswell Building gets new life

Construction on one of Over-the-Rhine’s 19th century buildings will soon be finished, and will open up new office space for members of the community. Rehabilitation began on the Cogswell Building in November and should be completed by March.
“I visited the Cogswell when it was CS13 Gallery and really liked the space,” says Pat Feghali, the building’s owner. “I used to drive by the building on the way home and saw that it was for sale, and eventually bought it.”
According to records, the Cogswell Building at 1219 Sycamore Street was built in the 1880s, and the first tenant was a shoe and boot store. The storefront was later converted into apartments. A bit of renovation work was done in the 1990s, but nothing major.
The building has been vacant since 2010, when CS13 occupied the space. Before that, it was a bar called The Cabaret. Both tenants only used the first two floors of the four-story building. When Feghali purchased the building in 2012, the fourth floor didn’t have heat and the plaster was peeling off of the walls.
Even though the Cogswell will have new office and conference space, all of the original detailing was kept intact, including the doors, trim, windows and floors. The first floor will have conference rooms available to those with offices in the building or members of the community who need meeting space for an hour or two, Feghali says.
The second and third floors will contain offices for individuals or small companies, and the fourth floor is now one room with open access for occupants of the building who need more room to spread out to do their work.
“I hope the building will bring more people to Sycamore,” Feghali says. “It’s a weird street, with only a few blocks of inhabited buildings. The Cogswell is on the corner, and you can see it from quite a distance.”
Feghali has a few tenants lined up, but she’s still looking to fill offices. If you’re interested in renting space in the Cogswell Building, contact her at p.feghali@gmail.com.
By Caitlin Koenig
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