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Chenault 'Springboards' into new Northside space, Pallet23

Entrepreneur Laura Chenault talked with Soapbox about her new and innovative venture, Pallet23, scheduled to open this fall in Northside.

How did you start your business?
I am in the process of launching. The space is being “white boxed” and should be ready for me to start the kitchen build-out by September.

How did you come up the idea for your business?
I have been the organizer and chair of the Celebrity Chef & Wine pairing event during Second Sunday on Main for the past five seasons; I’ve been talking with my chef friends for years about opening a dedicated space for food demonstrations, dinner parties and food events for years. It wasn’t until I found the perfect space in Northside that that vision expanded into what it is now.

What resources here did you take advantage of and how did they help?
A good friend, Barbara Hauser, who works for Procter & Gamble, turned me on to the Springboard program last summer and I signed up right away. Springboard and Sarah Corlett have been instrumental in clarifying my idea by showing me the path and steps I need to tackle to launch.

Several Springboard graduates are Pallet23 collaborators in making the space come to life, including Once Blind Studios, Lucius Limited, Such + Such, E13 and Dulcet Designs, to name a few.

Also, I am so grateful for the generosity of knowledge and advice from successful businesspeople, such as Todd Meyerrose, Bill Cunningham and Tom Hodges, for example. It has been inspiring.

Finally, Carriage House Farm will be creating an edible walkway and landscape, and is donating beautiful wood from their farm for the kitchen build-out and tables. Building Value has generously partnered to fill any supplemental cabinet and countertop needs.

What will a typical day in your business look like?
In the first phase of the launch, I anticipate the space being rented Friday and Saturday evenings for private parties, art openings, reunions, etc. Sunday days will feature cooking events, while Sunday nights will be set aside for private “supper club” chef dinners. I will still need to keep my day job as a freelance producer!

Hopefully, I will start filling the weekdays with meetings, luncheons, video/still shoots, classes etc. and grow the cooking, food component on the weekends.

Interview by Robin Donovan

For C'est Cheese, MoLo, new locations spell opportunity

Two local start-ups, the C’est Cheese grilled cheese truck, and mobile keepsake digitizer Memories of Loved Ones (MoLo) are celebrating new digs this month.

C’est Cheese, whose founder, Emily Frank just completed the Bad Girls Ventures program, is putting the tires to the pavement with a new food truck that made its first appearance at the City Flea on July 14.

C’est Cheese’s menu features 19 grilled cheese sandwiches – up to six available on a given day – and two soups, including the obligatory tomato, and a selection of homemade, flavored pickles.

Frank says finding the truck was a matter of patience and perserverence. “It was just spending hours and hours and hours every day searching online through several different sites to find the right vehicle. I ended up finding one in Chicago where I had just moved from. It was a former chocolate burrito truck painted with this crazy spray paint. With a little TLC, she has come a long way.”

Meanwhile, formerly mobile-only MoLo moved into a permanent – and stationary – office space at 6020 Harrison Ave., while keeping its RV for home visits. The keepsake digitizing services, which prepares posters, photo books and more for funerals, special events and celebrations, needed more space, says founder Katy Samuels.

“Over the past two years, we’ve had more celebration orders; now,  we can be a one-stop shop for everything people need,” she says.

The company now offers an extended suite of services for weddings and other events, including creating logos, invitations, programs and even websites, as well as reception displays and guest books.  

Up next for these two companies on the move?  “Getting people to know us,” Samuels says. “That’s the challenge.”

By Robin Donovan

DAAP first-year fuses design brand of her own

How do you wear beauty? Fuse Theory has some ideas…

University of Cincinnati College of Design Architecture Art and Planning (DAAP) student Alexandra Scott has an eye for beauty found in the “ugly and unusual” and some inspired ideas about the expression of individuality.

That’s why only a year into her college career, she decided to launch her own line of hand-designed, dyed and screen printed apparel and accessories based on the premise that “everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”

Scott is the creator, owner-operator and designer for her brand, Fuse Theory, a line of clothing and accessories for men and women that she developed after just one year in the DAAP program’s fashion design and product development track.

A native Cincinnatian and graduate of Walnut Hills High School, Scott says she has always been interested in art and fashion, but wasn’t sure at first how to combine the two.

“I wanted to find a way to open people’s eyes to the beauty found in the unexpected,” she says.

Scott derives inspiration from the fusion of ideas and concepts into an aesthetic that reaches a little deeper to connect beauty with individuality.

The brand name Fuse Theory unifies this connection with wearable pieces of art that are as comfortable as they are interesting. The brand seeks to combine color, texture and emotion to find beauty in life’s imperfections. Her trademark eye image, which can be found on her designs, symbolizes both her aesthetic and philosophy.

Although Scott’s designs are grounded in the basics, they’re far from unremarkable.

“My designs are not about impressing others,” she says. “It’s more about expressing the emotional side of fashion.”

She focuses on comfortable pieces that allow the wearer to be creative. “I don’t want my customers to be walking billboards for my brand,” she says. “I want them to buy my designs because they mean something.”

Both artisan and entrepreneur, Scott’s merchandise is a work of art from the initial design concept to the hand dying and screen-printing that bring pieces to life. Any flaws in the process contribute to the individualistic and emotional intent of her work.

Currently, Scott is collaborating with local graffiti artists on a new collection that incorporates street art onto men’s and women’s apparel. Look for these new designs online in late August.

In the meantime, Scott’s handiwork can be found online at fusetheoryapparel.com, or in the community on Aug. 25 at the Price Hill Cultural Heritage Festival, at Second Sunday on Main in Over-the-Rhine or at the West Chester Art Market every other Saturday.

Scott says she would like to feature her brand with local retailers and eventually open her own store. She will graduate in 2014, and the possibilities are likely to expand. We can’t wait to see what’s next.

By Deidra Wiley Necco

Succesful local party designers join to create stellar parties

A trio of Cincinnati's best and most accredited party planners recently combined their collective expertise to create a new party styling service, Stellar Party
The three women, Margot Madison, Nora Martini and Brigid Horne-Nestor all have a particular set of skills that differ slightly. They came together in March to begin their new business. 
"The beauty of Stellar Party is that all three of us have experience in slightly different areas that all fit together perfectly," Madison says. 
Horne-Nester has been planning events for more than 20 years and is one of only 60 planners around the world to have obtained credentials from Bridal Consultants, an organization that has been helping recommend planners and services for weddings since 1955.

Horne-Nester's expertise is in the big picture of the party, including overall timeline and set-up of events. Martini has experience in movie and photography set design, thus giving her an eye for the tone, theme and flow of an event. 

Madison is the detail person. As a graphic designer, Madison designs all the printed materials, such as invitations and menus, as well as the centerpieces and other party collateral.
All three women have been working in Cincinnati for years, and have occasionally teamed up before.

Horne-Nester runs the small bridal boutique, I-Do Boutique, in O'Bryonville,

Madison runs her party service company, Margot Madison Creative, and Martini does mostly freelance work.

Each will continue to run their own businesses while collaborating when contracted for events through Stellar Party. 
"We have worked mostly with wedding and bat and bar mitzvahs, but saw an opportunity to team up for more events," Madison says. "From corporate events to private parties that aren't weddings."
Instead of taking work from one another, Madison says forming Stellar Party will create more opportunities for everyone. 
"We add to each other," Madison says. "I have a high-level of skill in the graphic side of things, but I wouldn't want to plan an entire event in a million years. When we were talking about the business, it just became apparent that things each of us don't like doing, someone does."

By Evan Wallis

Newport on the Levee dance, fitness studio near one-year anniversary

Francisco Marziano has made it his mission to bring art and culture to Newport on the Levee. This August, Marziano’s Locomotion on the Levee will stand as a one-year-old testament to his determination.

Just about a year ago Marziano, owner of the gallery Art on the Levee, along with the Newport on the Levee staff, decided it was time to utilize the space adjacent to Art on the Levee.

“We were trying to bring some kind of energy to this empty space,” says Marziano. “The space became empty just at the right moment to bring the locomotion idea to the table.”

This idea was to establish and nurture a fitness and dance environment at the Levee. Well, they have been going strong on that front with classes in salsa, yoga, break dancing, zumba, belly dancing and tango. (The tango instructor is currently out of the country.)

Even The Cincinnati Circus utilizes the Locomotion space. “They do some classes here and a summer camp,” says Marziano.

Most of the activities at Locomotion on the Levee take place during the evening, though that will likely change.
“We are trying to find more activities for the day, like yoga for seniors. We are trying to bring more instructors as soon as possible,” Marziano says.

He also wants to expand the business of Art on the Levee. “We want to do more art openings, more events at the gallery,” he says.

In addition to regularly scheduled events, both Art on the Levee and Locomotion on the Levee double as flex venues. Want to throw a private party? Art on the Levee is open for that.

“You can enjoy the wine patio, you can enjoy the art, you can go to the movies later. You can have a place other than your home to do something different,” Marziano says.

The same is true of Locomotion on the Levee, which could host a concert or another creative offering. “Let’s say you’re a photographer, and you’re looking for a space to shoot some pictures for a Web page or a special project; you can do that here,” he says.

“You can rent the space and do it here [at Locomotion].”

By Perry Simpson

Baker-Gibboney makes most of cool beans

Jill Baker-Gibboney has been making coffee professionally since she was 16. Originally from western Pennsylvania, she moved to Cincinnati with her parents as a teenager.  

“I spent a lot of time saying that I was going to leave,” she says of her teenage ennui. But after having a child herself and moving over a decade ago to Northside, “I knew I was staying.”

Although she no longer lives in Northside proper (she thinks Cincinnati has a lot of “best kept secret” neighborhoods), Baker-Gibboney now slings a wholly different kind of cup of joe at farmers markets and small independent businesses around town.  

Her current endeavor is bottled iced coffee: Coffee Cold—named for the eponymous song by jazz composer/pianist Galt MacDermot.

With the help of her friend of nearly two decades, Chuck Pfahler of La Terza Artisan Roasterie, Baker-Gibboney wants to revolutionize the way Americans—or at least Cincinnatians—drink coffee.  

The cold-brewing process creates a slightly sweeter cup, Baker-Gibboney says.

“My hope is that folks will at least try it first without their normal doctoring of the cup,” she says. “What’s the point in demanding a better product if you’re still going to treat it the same as a bad one?”

Her reasoning is valid. Coffee brewing technology has improved by leaps and bounds, and independent roasters like La Terza use responsibly sourced beans that are single origin and locally roasted in small batches, so the coffee is as fresh and customized to taste as possible.  

The process of cold brewing adds to the intensity.

“When you ice a bean, you can taste everything,” says the coffee lover. “There’s no hiding behind temperature—every flavor, good or bad, is present.”

So far, the verdict has been sweet. After testing several batches at Hyde Park and Wyoming farmers markets, they’ve sold out of each case nearly every time.  

A mere week after the launch, the fledgling company was contacted by six different retailers about selling wholesale. Expect to see Coffee Cold on the shelves of area markets like Park + Vine, Picnic & Pantry and Clifton Natural Foods, as well as specialty shops that carry alcohol like the Listing Loon and local pubs like the Comet.

Although Coffee Cold is the first and only locally roasted/brewed/bottled iced coffee in the Tri-State, they’ll still have to contend with the hyper-sweet “frappe-latte-smoothies” of their corporate competitors.

From the sound of it, Coffee Cold will rely more on the depth of their beans than artificial flavors and sweeteners. “If you start with great beans, and you prepare them carefully, you don’t need anything at all,” Baker-Gibboney says.

By Maria Seda-Reeder

Local cyclists, architects team for bike storage competition

Queen City Bike, led by Nern Ostendorf, rallies for cycling in the city with regular initiatives like May’s Bike Month celebrations, classes and advocacy forums, a continually updated list of local Bike Friendly Destinations and even nighttime BRIGHT Rides.

The most recent dazzled World Choir Games-goers with a parade of bikes decked out in multicolored lights. (More BRITE Rides are in the works. Stay tuned.)

Next up on QCB’s to-do list: a bike shelter/storage design competition created by the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The contest, which is free and open to the public, challenges entrants to choose a location in town that is ideal for bike storage and create an affordable, accessible concept that can house at least eight bicycles at one time.

For the average city-dweller, the need for increased bike storage might not seem pressing, but for passionate cyclists it could move Cincinnati in the direction of alt-transportation hubs like Portland and Chicago.

“Bicyclists [in Cincinnati] often feel like an afterthought when it comes to getting their parking needs met,” Ostendorf says. “Only after the parking lot has been paved do many designers think about maybe squeezing a bike rack into an unused corner (if anything).”

That means public bike racks are scarce.

“Most of the time bicyclists automatically go for the nearest parking meter or fencepost or whatever they can find (tree, gas meter),” Ostendorf says.

She adds that change is happening, albeit slowly. The city responded to at least one public bike storage request, installing a corral on Knowlton Avenue in Northside in front of the Mobo Bicycle Cooperative.

Andreas Lange—the AIA representative who contacted QCB about the contest—says there has already been considerable buzz about the design competition.

Similar competitions in other cities “are often very complex or restricted to the initiated few,” Lange says. “We wanted this to be short and sweet and at a level that everyone could participate. It's an ideas competition, so everyone can share something.”

In addition to potential inclusion in future bike-sharing programs, Lange says designers shouldn’t limit their concepts to downtown and OTR. “We’d love to see some smart proposals for the ‘burbs,” he says.

Ostendorf and Lange both hope the competition—and initiatives like it—will help increase community dialog and support for investing in bicycling infrastructure.

“The more we make urban bicycling easier and more fun, the advantages of cycling will just keep increasing,” Ostendorf says.

Submissions for the design competition will be randomly sorted and reviewed by a small team of architects and cyclists. The winning submission—to be announced Aug, 6—will receive a bike storage system courtesy of the cycling gurus at Saris.

Deadline for submissions is 5 pm, Friday, July 27. All submissions should be sent to cincinnatibikeshelter@gmail.com.

By Hannah Purnell
Follow Hannah on Twitter.

Maribelle's open kitchen in Oakley invites inquiry in comfy setting

Comfy. Transparent. Energetic.

That’s how Leigh Enderle, owner of Maribelle’s eat + drink, describes the new location in Oakley.

Maribelle’s, which used to be located on Riverside Drive, reopened late last June in the space that formerly housed Hugo restaurant on Madison Road. The restaurant’s newly remodeled space is based on the idea of transparency and comfort.

“Transparency is the concept we’re going for,” says Enderle. “We want people to know where their food comes from and how it’s made. We want them to understand the sourcing and we want them to understand how much work goes into the restaurant, too.”

The restaurant kitchen is completely exposed, so guests in the dining area can watch chefs prepare their food. And the staff at Maribelle’s invites diners to sample food or ask the staff questions pertaining to their meals and drinks.

“The open kitchen has brought awareness to our guests,” says Enderle. “They really get to see how a restaurant kitchen operates, it’s almost like watching a show.”

The menu items at Maribelles run from $8-15, and include both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. Chefs use local vegetables when in season, and source all chicken and turkey products from Gerber Farms in central Ohio. Maribelle’s beer list includes domestic porters, lagers and IPAs.

Enderle, who is originally from North Carolina, says she wanted to create an atmosphere not unlike a kitchen at home. She says that at home, she’s never afraid to ask questions, and that’s how she wants guests to feel.

And although she admits that it’s tough to get fresh local ingredients in an urban area, she agrees that it’s worth the extra effort.

“I care about what I eat. Not all the time, but I do care,” says Enderle.

“I care about where things come from, and I care that the animals are treated well. At Maribelle’s, we want to make sure we know the story behind the ingredients that we’re getting, and we want to make sure it fits into our concept of transparency.”

By Jen Saltsman
Follow Jen on Twitter.

Refurbished chic abounds at mother-daughter Market in Northside

When Stephanie Heeston and Emily Heeston-Chopelas leased their space on Hamilton Avenue—a consignment/designer/vintage goods hybrid called Market Side Mercantile—the native Cincinnatians didn’t know what to expect.

“We knew [Northside] was eclectic,” says Heeston-Chopelas, noting that “the population fits” the pair’s funky sense of style and wide variety of handmade wares.

But the mother-daughter team says the immediate community support has been a pleasant surprise. Right away, neighborhood residents streamed into the one-room shop, praising their choice to bring business to Northside and double-checking, “You guys are going to stay, right?”

Already, the two have grown their business from five to 46 consigners, a diverse group that includes “a man in Indiana who strips old barns” as well as a custom jewelry designer who makes earrings in the shape of boomerangs, or “boomearrings.”

There’s no sign of stopping soon. Currently, they have a more items waiting in reserve than they know what to do with. (Seriously. The surplus is so great that they’ve had to waitlist prospective consigners for now.)??

The merchandise they sell is one of a kind. With help from Heeston-Chopelas’ husband, they do much of the furniture restoration themselves, reviving unique and slightly distressed pieces with fresh, fun layers of paint and swatches of vibrant, repurposed fabrics.

Craftily recycled stationery, designer shopping bags and an assortment of Mason-jar creations punctuate carefully repurposed larger pieces, making for an inviting, upscale-yet-affordable feel.

“Keep it out of the landfill,” is Heeston-Chopelas’ mantra. She adds, “We’re not antique, and we’re not a thrift store. We just like what we like.”

Their unique style is making an impression, with newfound “regulars” stopping in several times a week to check out the shop’s almost daily deliveries.

“The store is completely different every time I go in,” says Clifton resident and frequent shopper Susie Kent. “The store is welcoming and unpretentious. The owners…share ideas, inspiration, and even tips on how to go home and repurpose things you already have.”

Heeston has ideas for future events to help celebrate the neighborhood and cement the Market Side Mercantile as a fixture, but for now she says the best thing folks can do to support the shop is to like them on Facebook and—of course—visit.

Store hours are Weds-Fri 12-6 pm; Sat-Sun 11 am-4 pm. Call 513-967-2026 for more info.

By Hannah Purnell
Follow Hannah on Twitter.

Design challenge yields implementable ideas

In April, MSA Architects launched The Five Design Challenge, and now, after sorting through more than 40 entries, from as far away as China and Portland, Oregon, the winners have been chosen. 
The challenge was to choose one of five unused spaces around Cincinnati and come up with an idea to transform the space into something useful. The spaces ranged from empty lots to a space underneath a highway.
The entires were judged by Tamara Harkavy of ArtWorks, Chad Munitz of 3CDC, Leah Spurrier of High Street, William Williams of DAAP and City Council member Wendell Young. Nick Dewald and Chris Rohs, employees at MSA, say all the judges picked ideas realistic and implementable. 
"We don't push the judges in any way," Rohs says. "All the judges seemed to be more interested in the ideas that could actually happen, instead of the pie-in-the-sky sort of stuff." 
The top prize was split among three entrants:

• SEED, Sustained Employment & Entrepreneurship Developmen,t was a proposal for a small business incubator with short-term lease spaces and start-up support services. It used several of the under-utilized spaces in Over-the-Rhine: vacant lots, empty buildings and alleyways. These stereotypically ‘bad’ spaces are reinterpreted to create a 24-hour mixed-use building that serves as a catalyst for the neighborhood, creating local jobs, promoting a start-up culture, and improving perceptions of safety. 
• Loop Cincy took all five sites and connected them with a bike path and to Cincinnati landmarks and attractions to create a more connected city. The five sites were designed into an outdoor gym, a small park and even a small concert space.
• 4Hostel created a hostel on one one of the spaces, which was an empty lot, providing low-cost accommodations for travelers.
MSA plans on hosting the competition each year, but changing the theme. 
"We want to keep the theme pretty broad," Dewald says. "Instead of focusing on one building, like many architectural challenges do, we want to focus on improving Cincinnati in a more general way." 
By Evan Wallis

Inside opening night at Django taco bar

From Coffee Emporium barista to SpringBoard diarist to budding entrepreneur, Megan McAuley loves sharing stories with Soapbox. This time, she tells the tale of a highly anticipated start-up—one that is not her own—and shows how entrepreneurship may at times get messy, but even then, it’s an inspiration.

Prior to and following the completion of my SpringBoard course, I had the opportunity to witness first-hand the eight-month journey of a new local business from idea to fruition.

On Friday, June 15, the owners of La Poste, along with my significant other, Tom Stephen, opened Django Western Taco in Northside.

More than a year ago, when I first met Tom at Coffee Emporium, he was just another customer in the line. He was actually one of my least favorites as he would regularly show up before we were open, rush in as soon as we unlocked the doors, and grumpily rush out.

It wasn't until a few months later when he randomly showed up at the cafe in the middle of the day to read that I actually discovered his story.

After snarkily commenting about his late arrival, he told me that he had just quit his day job and was about to begin the process of opening a local restaurant with one of his best friends.

Up until that day, Tom had been working an office job by day and a bartending job by night. His unhappy demeanor was suddenly a little more excusable. We soon began chatting at the coffee shop on a regular basis.

Long story short, after rejecting me several times, we finally started dating and are still together almost a year later. (Sorry Tom, facts are facts.)

Tom’s new restaurant, Django (pronounced JANG-go) sits at the corner of Blue Rock and Hamilton in the space formerly known as Slim's. With the addition of the "Blue Rock" beach behind the back patio, it's quirky in the way most Northside businesses are, but exudes a down-and-dirty feel inspired by the old Spaghetti Western after which it was named.

The owners called in help from local artists and friends—Chris Hennig on art and Tess Hammons on soundtrack—to add a Cincinnati flair.

Before I knew either one of them, Tom and Bryant (owner of La Poste) started talking about the idea for Django. Bryant was running a fine dining restaurant, and Tom was selling high-end wine.

Tom explained that the goal for the restaurant was to "bring our level of service and product to a bar setting, where we would want to hang out."

Their idea revolved around "loud music, and a simple menu with few choices, because the things we have are the right things."

Though there are single tacos on the menu, the way to go is to order bowls of different proteins, sides, and the “pickled six,” building your own tacos however you want. Tom calls it "grazing and drinking in a very relaxed setting."

On opening night, the Al Pastor and Beef Tongue were both the most unique and tasty choices, in my opinion.??I will leave the restaurant review to Donna Covrett, but as both the girlfriend and a hopeful entrepreneur, the experience of watching this all progress from idea to business has been one of the most beneficial and educational opportunities I have had, aside from SpringBoard.

The amount of time, passion and energy put into this restaurant was more inspirational to me as a prospective entrepreneur than the hesitation I experienced while witnessing all the stressful moments and potential road bumps.

Between November and June, the restaurant was projected to open six different times. In addition to working with a very small team, there were difficulties involving everything from city permits to structural problems, the kind common in old buildings. At times it seemed like nothing was ever going to go right, and I often wondered if each new obstacle would be the breaking point.

For the last couple of months, the amount of time I had to spend with Tom was minimal, but the amount of respect and admiration I have for what he has put into this restaurant assures me that it will be worth it.

On a personal level, I want Django to succeed because I care about Tom, but on a business level, I want it to succeed because I've seen how hard everyone has worked, and hope that someday I can say the same thing about myself and my climbing gym.

By Megan McAuley

DIY urbanism contest yields funky, fun, feasible ideas

Flying pig wayfinders and pop-up restaurant patios. Communal dining and a Mt. Adams vineyard. Design professionals, students and creative thinkers joined the fun for the first annual DIY Urbanism competition, a collaborative project of the Niehoff Urban Studio at the University of Cincinnati and the Architecture Foundation of Cincinnati.

The challenge, to solve a local urban problem using simple tools and methods, inspired plenty of creativity, with entrants transforming forgotten overlooks with home-made telescopes and using helium balloons to reinvigorate Old St. George Church in Clifton.

The top student project, submitted by Gael Perichon, envisioned storefront murals to beautify the now-blank spaces of the Tower Place Parking Garage. Her inventive and practical design drew praise from ArtWorks founder and judge Tamara Harkavy.

Top honors in the professional category went to High Light OTR: An Interactive Wayfinding Beacon, a proposed set of light boxes placed throughout the neighborhood to draw attention to specific streets or spaces with events. Eric Lindsay of Connective Conscious submitted a mesmerizing illustration of how the resulting beams of light could appear not only at the ground level, but from space.

Judges also praised Luke Field’s “When Pigs Fly” entry, a porcine twist on the idea of giant spotlights in the sky as “Most Whimsical” entry; Leila Loezer’s “Bike Co-op Day,” which garnered the “Most Eco-Groovy” title; “The Big Dinner,” a communal event created by Catherine Richards, Ahn Tran and Brook Brandewie that was dubbed “Most Likely to Happen” and “Most Artistic;” and “DIY Vineyards” by Luke Robinson, which earned the title, “Most Poetic.” “Goetz Alley Update,” a colorful and easy-to-assemble concept submitted by Jenny Kessler, Sarah Sololoski and Justin Hoffman, was awarded “Most Architectural.”

Finally, the exhibit’s People’s Choice Award went to “Tucker’s Restaurant Parklet,” submitted by Michelle Anderson, Mike Uhlenhake and Becky Schneider. The concept expanded the restaurant’s dining area into adjacent parking spaces that were transformed, temporarily, into deck-like seating spaces ideal for eating the popular neighborhood fare al fresco.

There’s still a chance to see the winners, plus all other entrants, on display through June 14 at the Architectural Foundation of Cincinnati, 811 Race Street.

By Elissa Yancey
Follow Elissa on Twitter.

Branding 'Vikings' land in OTR

The Vikings are coming to OTR, and you'd better get ready. 
Jason Snell and Mike Gibboney, two veterans of the branding and marketing world, are opening up a storefront office for their "creative house", We Have Become Vikings, on 1417 Vine Street. Until now, Gibboney and Snell have been working remotely on both national and local products, but decided it was time to build more of a presence in Cincinnati.
Snell, a former employee at Lightborne and Possible Worldwide, decided he wanted to stick around Cincinnati and build his own company. In 2007, when his focus on clients in New York, Austin, Los Angeles and Portland, almost led Snell to skip town and set up shop elsewhere. But friends and family anchored him in Cincinnati. Gibboney left his job as a higher-education administrator last year to pursue a career in advertising; he freelanced for Empower MediaMarketing and started conversations with Snell about working together. 
The first large project the two worked on was a campaign from Cincinnati to Austin for South By Southwest. They called it "Down." WHBV worked with Landor to create a day party full of Cincinnati bands, and even drove a flatbed truck into downtown Austin from which they gave away 100 guitars.. 
"We just wanted to make a big splash," Snell says. "After that went well, we decided it was time to open up a storefront." 
But what about that name? We Have Become Vikings doesn't exactly roll off the tongue easily. Snell says it was inspired by small ad firms in New York with eye-catching names--and the ubiquitous nature of advertising.
"As a society, branding and advertising has kind of taken over the world, just like Vikings," Snell says. "It's come into everyone's life, whether you like it or not. [The name] also makes for some badass graphics." 
Just take a look at the faceless Viking decal on both the storefront windows. 
The duo's website lists six areas of expertise, ranging from animation to branding, but Snell says he wants to be known as a full-service branding agency. 
"With branding, you can really make someone and their company realize their full potential," Snell says. "We can help people portray exactly what they want to be."

Night market to provide late night NOMs

Over the Rhine is about to get some new late night food options, in the form of a night market, Night Owl Market (NOM), set up in the parking lot at the corner of Central Parkway and Main Street.
Nadia Laabs and Sally Yoon, two Procter & Gamble employees, turned their late-night frustration into a new business opportunity. When they were out late one night and could find nowhere to eat, they saw a hunger to fill a gaping hole in the downtown food market. So, they decided to try to fill it themselves. 
The two first looked at the alley on Walnut Street adjacent to Nicholson's Pub, but the space was being used for the construction of the new 21c Museum Hotel. So they finally settled on the OTR location. 
"At first, Sally suggested parking lots, and I hadn't really thought about it," Laabs says. "But they turned out to be the best option because they are private property, and there are a lot less regulations and permits." 
After securing the parking lot for Final Friday in July, Yoon and Laabs began talking to organizers of events like the City Flea, Second Sundays on Main and the Asian Food Fest to get an idea of how to plan for the NOM. Next, they sent out surveys to test interest in the idea. After good feedback and requests for specific types of food, Laabs and Yoon began contacting vendors. 
NOM is currently ranked in the top 10 for the Cincinnati Innovates contest based on public voting. If they win, Yoon and Laabs would use the money for NOM start-up costs. 
NOM will be open from 10 pm - 3 am and feature up to 11 vendors, including food trucks and booths from local restaurants, complete with tables and chairs, live music and even security. 
"If it's successful, we'd like to do it every weekend," Laabs says. "We definitely think there is a need and interest."
NOM is tentatively planned for every Final Friday from July until November, based on vendor interest and overall business. Check the website for the latest news.

Rise of the cool kids in Cincinnati

Nathan Hurst founded Cincinnati Fashion Week in 2010, and as it rolls into its third year, more and more people are getting involved. 
One Cincinnati resident, who has worked with Fashion Week before, pitched an idea to Hurst about highlighting the young, adventurous and energetic street fashion scene growing in Cincinnati. That person, who wants to keep his name a secret for now, is creating a team to help him develop the event, "Rise of the Cool Kids."
"I don't want people to associate a person with this, but rather a movement or a kind of person," says the Cincinnatus Kidd, a moniker that has been created to promote the event. 
Street fashion at the event shows that all fashion doesn't have to be expensive and unattainable; it should be more of a personal expression.
"When people use the word fashion, they use it in reference to the highest forms of fashion, but fashion is an everyday thing," Kidd says. "There is a pretty good understanding now that art used to be a painting in a frame, but now it can be anything, including street art. I don't think that same idea has come across to fashion."
The event will be held Oct. 6, tentatively on the roof of a parking garage, and will highlight local boutiques in a runway fashion show. The parking garage will be transformed into a streetscape, complete with street signs, scale models of OTR buildings and even shoes hanging over wires highlighting some of the brands being showcased.

There will be local DJs, hip-hop artists, visual artists, dancers and skateboarders on site. Rise of the Cool Kids will also team with Original Thought Required, Corporate and Flow, all local clothing shops, to create preview events at each store. 
"Street fashion is getting noticed more around here, and it's time to recognize it," Kidd says. "This has been a very mall-driven city, but now people are expressing themselves differently."
By Evan Wallis
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