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Another food truck on the horizon in Cincinnati

John Humphrey’s parents opened the first Zino’s restaurant in 1965 in Norwood, and more were soon to follow in Clifton, Hyde Park, Short Vine, Kenwood Mall, Milford and Walnut Hills. The restaurants closed in the mid-1990s, and now Humphrey plans to bring some of Zino’s menu back to the city with his food truck, Zinomobile.
“I grew up working at my parents’ restaurants,” Humphrey says. “My sister and foster brothers worked there too, as well as our friends. It was hard to find someone who didn’t eat at, work at or know someone who worked at Zino’s.”
Humphrey, who trained at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, recently purchased the former Taco Azul truck, and will have a Kickstarter campaign to raise a portion of the remaining funds for Zinomobile.
The food truck’s menu will feature the Zinover, which is a deep-fried pizza turnover (think deep-fried calzone), filled with cheese, marinara sauce and your choice of ingredients. The rest of the menu will be rounded out with Zino’s originals, but Humphrey says he might eventually tweak a few things.
“I want to blend the older generation with the newer generation and bring in different food concepts,” Humphrey says.
Humphrey is a member of the Cincinnati Food Truck Association, and says that someday, he might want to expand his food truck and open a restaurant.
“I don’t have any idea where I would want to put a restaurant, but it seems to be the natural progression for many food truck owners,” he says. “Compared to 15 years ago, it’s amazing what’s available now.”
Zinomobile will be available for private parties, and be looking for the truck at business parks around town, as well as in entertainment hotspots with nightlife in the coming weeks. Humphrey also hopes to be at farmers markets and large events like Bunbury Music Festival; Red, White & Blue Ash; and Taste of Cincinnati.

Read more about Cincinnati's growing food truck scene in 30 Must-Try Cincinnati Food Trucks.

ArtsWave grant recipient: Price Hill Will

ArtsWave recently awarded a total of $45,000 to five LISC Place Matters neighborhoods—Avondale, Covington, Madisonville, Price Hill and Walnut Hills. Each neighborhood received $9,000 in grant money, which will help bring ArtsWave supported arts activities and organizations to each neighborhood. For the next five weeks, Soapbox will feature the five neighborhoods and their plans for the grant money.
On Aug. 23, Price Hill Will is hosting Illuminating the Arts from 1 to 7 p.m. The event will take place at four galleries in the neighborhood, including BLOC Coffee Company, Flats Gallery, Warsaw Project Gallery and the new @3506.
The galleries will feature local art from the Price Hill Looking Up Photography Contest, displays from a number of youth photography programs and Warsaw’s display of Luminous Lish’s glow-in-the-dark sculptural paintings.
With the help of the grant, Price Hill Will also coordinated several live performances. The Warsaw Arts Festival featured a performance by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s wind ensemble, several MYCincinnati performances, three performances by Bi-Okoto, and performances by Elementz and Bach and Boombox.
“This has given us the ability to offer programs to children who probably wouldn’t be able to see live performances,” says Pamela Taylor, community outreach coordinator for Price Hill Will.
Price Hill will have a few more Shakespeare in the Park shows in each section of the neighborhood over the next few months, which will give all Price Hill residents the chance to see the performance.
Live art performances are also being offered in Price Hill’s public elementary schools. Madcap Puppets will perform at one of the schools in December, and might be coming to a few other schools as well.
In September, Price Hill is hosting the International Festival at Roberts Academy and Music in the Woods at Imago Earth Center, and Bend in the River is Oct. 4 and 5 in Lower Price Hill.
“The grant from ArtsWave and Place Matters really fits with our programming, and the overall quality of life programming in Price Hill,” Taylor says. “It’s been great for community engagement.”

Ten films showcase the lives of Walnut Hills residents

This summer, Ryan Mulligan, a professor and filmmaker; Sam Meador, a local artist; The Gallery Project; Cincinnati creatives; and citizens of Walnut Hills created 10 short films about the people of the neighborhood. The films will be shown at 9 p.m. on Aug. 15 during the final Walk on Woodburn of the summer.
“Walnut Hills is my home, and I love the neighborhood,” Mulligan says. “When Annie Bolling asked me to do a project in her new community-centered art space on Woodburn, I jumped at the opportunity.”
The films, called Hilltop Stories, include documentary-style shorts, a silent comedy, a music video and a historical recreation of a couple’s first date and their lives together. Hilltop Stories was made entirely on a volunteer basis, with a grant from FUEL Cincinnati covering the advertising and equipment costs for the screening.
A Bollywood-style music video is in honor of Courttney Cooper, a Kroger employee who loves music. He can be seen dancing around the store, and brings music to everyone around him, Mulligan says.
Roy and Dee Green have lived in Walnut Hills for more than 50 years, and their love story inspired one of the films. Local teen actors played the Greens, and the film was shot on location in the neighborhood as the actors re-created the couple’s first date, courtship, marriage, and trials and tribulations. 
Walk on Woodburn will include a beer garden and food trucks from 6 to 9 p.m., with the films shown afterward for free on a giant 20-foot inflatable screen in the parking lot of 2800 Woodburn.
Mulligan says he’s only scratched the surface of the stories in Walnut Hills. During filming, he met a family with a large fence behind their house who have never met their neighbors. Next year, Mulligan is helping host the first ever Backyard Fence Volleyball League, in which the winner cooks dinner. Each block can form a team, and the match and meal will be filmed.
“I’m not a filmmaker,” Mulligan says. “I’m just a guy who believes in neighborhoods, and a professor who believes in art for social change.”
Next year, Mulligan hopes to take a backseat and help others who want to get behind the camera, but he definitely wants to see Hilltop Stories continue in Walnut Hills and beyond.

Westwood Works builds community with pop-up beer gardens

Westwood Works, an asset-based community development organization that celebrates the Westwood community, recently hosted its third Pop Up Beer Garden on Aug. 2. Based on the Five Points Beer Garden in Walnut Hills, the first two beer gardens drew more thab 300 people to each event.  
“The beer gardens have provided so much opportunity for us to fundraise for community-building efforts while accomplishing our primary goal of gathering people in a historic building district to enjoy the company of one another and see why we love Westwood so much,” says Nikki Mayhew, a Westwood Works board member.
If you missed it, the next beer garden is scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 4, and will feature beer from Rhinegeist. Music Man DJ Flyin’ Brian Hellmann will provide entertainment, and there will be homebrewing demonstrations and food trucks.
Westwood Works has a few other events planned throughout the rest of the year, including:
  • 6th Annual Westwood Art Show on Sept. 13, which is held in partnership with WestCURC. The show will feature dozens of craft vendors, live music, food and fun on the lawn of Westwood Town Hall.
  • Family Movie Night at 8 p.m. on Sept. 20 at the Gamble Nippert YMCA. A family-friendly movie will be shown on the lawn of the YMCA on a large projection screen.
  • Deck the Hall from 4 to 7 p.m. Nov. 30, which is held in partnership with the Cincinnati Recreation Commission, the Gamble Nippert YMCA, Madcap Puppets and several local churches. The event will include crafts and games for kids, a visit with Santa, carols sung by local choirs, Mapcap Puppets, food trucks and the lighting of the tree at Westwood Town Hall.
“We like to see the community coming together to build on its strengths and capitalize on its differences to become a stronger, more inclusive community,” Mayhew says.
Westwood Works' monthly meetings are held at 7:30 p.m. the last Wednesday of the month. The next one is scheduled for Aug. 27 at Dean’s Hops & Vines.

Cross-stitch and embroidery shop new to OTR

The Hoop & Needle, a cross-stitch and embroidery shop, had its grand opening during Over-the-Rhine’s Second Sunday in June.
The 750-square-foot shop boasts cross-stitch and embroidery supplies, including modern and edgy patterns, kits and accessories. There’s also an online shop, which will carry many of the same offerings as the brick-and-mortar store.
The Hoop & Needle’s owner and sole employee, Sarah Fisher, hopes to eventually offer classes. She’ll be hosting the first “Stitch Night” from 6 to 9 p.m. on Aug. 7, where people can bring in their projects and work on them.
“I want to provide a place where people can explore something new, and try out something different,” Fisher says. “I’ve found that lots of people who live in OTR used to do cross-stitch or embroidery, and this is a way to make the hobby more approachable and help people get back into it.”
Fisher, an Akron native who now lives in Northside, started creating her own cross-stitch patterns a few years ago, and sold them as Purple Hippo Stitches at craft shows, including the Crafty Supermarket. The Hoop & Needle is an extension of that, and it happened a lot faster than she was expecting.
“I started looking at spaces, and this seemed like the perfect space,” she says. “There are other art stores in OTR like Rock Paper Scissors, and it seemed like a friendly community to start a business in.”
The Hoop & Needle, located at 1415 Main St., is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Two restaurants coming to Newport on the Levee

Two new restaurant concepts from Trifecta Management Group will soon take over existing spaces at Newport on the Levee. Redondo, a taqueria-style, contemporary Mexican restaurant, will open in the space formerly occupied by Toro, and Star Lanes will now be called AXIS Alley.
Redondo’s menu will focus primarily on tacos, with meat options like braised chicken, fresh fish, crispy pork belly and short ribs. There will also be tapas, fresh salsa and other Mexican specialties, including a Mexican shrimp cocktail, queso fundido, and scallop and shrimp ceviche.
The restaurant will also offer a full bar, with a Mexican-inspired drink menu—think margaritas, Mexican beers, tequilas, and wines from Latin and South America.
The over 24,000-square-foot AXIS Alley will have 12 public bowling lanes, as well as a private party room with four lanes. Three billiard tables, a TV wall, and a DJ and karaoke will round out the entertainment offerings. The menu will include classic American fare, such as hand-tossed pizzas, handcrafted burgers and shareable appetizers.
AXIS will also have a happy hour with drink and food specials, a late night menu and a banquet menu. The bowling alley will continue to only admit patrons 21 years of age and older after 9 p.m.

Metro's Uptown transit district offers new amenities to riders

Over the past year, Metro has renovated its transit district in Uptown. Metro’s four boarding areas throughout Uptown now offer many amenities to bus riders, including distinctive sheltered boarding areas, real-time information, integration with employer and university shuttles, wayfinding and rider information kiosks, and enhanced streetscapes and sidewalk improvements in some areas.
Metro now has 13 boarding shelters in Uptown : the Clifton Heights Business District (four shelters); Vine and Calhoun streets (two shelters); the University of Cincinnati at Jefferson Avenue (three shelters); and the medical centers (four shelters).
Government Square in the central business district and Uptown are the two largest transportation hubs in the city. Uptown represents about 50,000 jobs and an economic impact of more than $3 billion.
“We’re trying to make it easier for Metro riders to access this thriving area using transit,” says Jill Dunne, public affairs manager for Metro. “We hope that the better connections and amenities will increase transit use and reduce traffic congestion in Uptown.” 
The $7 million project was funded by federal earmark and federal Congestion Mitigation/Air Quality funds made available through the Ohio Department of Transportation and the OKI Regional Council of Governments, as well as other local funds.
Metro regularly reviews how to address the needs of its entire service area, and is continuously looking at the community’s needs for additional transit districts in the city.
“Metro has been working on this for several years, and has been working with partners, including the City of Cincinnati, UC and Uptown Consortium, to create a way to meet the unique transit needs in the area,” Dunne says.

Explore OTR cards offer arts patrons perks for visiting nearby restaurants and retail

Over-the-Rhine arts organization Elementz recently produced Explore OTR cards, which will drive business from the arts to restaurants and retail in the neighborhood. The cards are based on a concept seen in Kentucky where groups of businesses get together and create a process to get customers to go to the businesses.
“The cards are for people who might come to OTR for arts events, but who don’t think of the neighborhood as a place to stay and shop,” says Tom Kent, executive director of Elementz.
Explore OTR cards are free, and will be handed out by smaller arts organizations after performances—the Art Academy of Cincinnati, Art Beyond Boundaries, the Cincinnati Boychoir, Elementz and Know Theatre.
Patrons can then visit up to five of the 21 businesses listed on the card and get them initialed. Park + Vine, Rhinehaus, the YMCA, The Anchor Restaurant in Washington Park, Taste of Belgium and Sweet Sistah Splash are just a few of the diverse restaurants and retail options that are participating in the Explore OTR cards.
Once they’ve visited five businesses, patrons can redeem the cards at larger arts organizations such as American Legacy Tours, the Cincinnati Ballet, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Theatre and Know Theatre for deals like 20 percent off tickets for the Queen City Underground Tour and buy one, get one free tickets at Know Theatre.
Each offer has an expiration date, with some expiring in November, others in May, Kent says.
“We’re trying to build an alliance between arts organizations and the customers who come to see the shows,” he says. “Local businesses make the neighborhood thrive, and the cards will also help bring in a more diverse audience as membership builds.”
Elementz will be collecting the cards after they’re redeemed for the discounts, and keeping track of where people redeemed them and which businesses were visited.
The cards are currently being printed, and will be handed out at LumenoCity next weekend.

Bear Paddle Swim School offers swim lessons, promotes water safety

This September, Bear Paddle Swim School will open its doors in Mason, where it will offer year-round swim lessons, as well as promote water safety in the community.
Bear Paddle opened its first location in February 2010 in Aurora, Ill., and two other locations in the Chicago area—one in Woodridge and one in Orland Park—soon followed. The Mason location, at 9376 S. Mason Montgomery Road, is the first outside of Chicago.
“We chose the Cincinnati area because there aren’t many facilities for year-round swim lessons for kids, and it seemed like a good fit,” says Emily Everson, co-owner of Bear Paddle.
The 10,000-square-foot, kid-friendly facility will have a 25-yard, 90-degree, saltwater lap pool for year-round swim lessons. Groups are divided by age and ability, whereas most swim programs are designed based on ability only, Everson says.
Bear Paddle offers lessons for swimmers of all levels, ages 6 months to 13 years. Classes are offered on a month-to-month basis, with a 30-minute lesson once per week. Lessons are $80 for one student, $150 for two students, $210 for three students and $270 for four students.

Bear Paddle also has a water safety program, where a mascot conducts a 30-minute presentation at schools and daycares on different bodies of water and what to do in water emergencies.
“We’re trying to spread awareness about water safety by teaching kids to swim early on, which will hopefully cut down on the number of drownings,” Everson says. “We want kids to feel confident and comfortable in the water, no matter their age.”

Six-month myNKY campaign results announced

In January, Vision 2015 launched its myNKY initiative to garner public input. MyNKY asked in a variety of ways, from a physical “I want myNKY to be…” wall to an online game, what the public wants to see in Northern Kentucky.
Before its end in June, the six-month public input campaign garnered 11,000 different pieces of feedback from residents.
Results from the myNKY investment game showed that residents want to see a focus on early childhood development and high school graduation rates, as well as bringing industry to the region and adding jobs. And the myNKY wall revealed that residents want NKY to be awesome, tolerant, family-friendly, heroine-free, green and sustainable.
The myNKY leadership team is currently helping to determine a process that will lead to the community’s vision. It established nine working groups and brought together experts in each field: jobs, education, housing, sustainability, diversity/inclusion, health, government and arts/culture/tourism. They’re working this summer on recommendations for consideration in the fall.
“The leadership team is looking at what areas have links, overlaps, synergies and commonalities, and are trying to craft all of the data into a bold, compelling and distinct plan for the future,” says Kara Williams, vice president of Vision 2015.
In the beginning, myNKY’s goal was a five-year plan, but Williams says that the new plan will be much longer term than that, with intermediary milestones along the way.
And although the campaign ended, that doesn’t mean public input has to stop.
“We’re not closing the door on ideas in any way,” Williams says. “We’re still encouraging the public to send us ideas. There’s no idea too large or too small.”
To see data from the six-month campaign, visit myNKY’s website, and feel free to submit ideas of your own.

ArtWalks bring temporary public art to communities

The community was invited to help paint the crosswalk, or ArtWalk, at Main and Melindy streets in Over-the-Rhine during the neighborhood’s Second Sunday on Main. Artists Beth Graves, Pam Kravetz and Carla Morales designed and painted the outline of the crosswalk, aptly named “Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?”
About 50 community members painted as little or as much of the crosswalk as they wanted.
“The most expensive part of any street painting is closing the street, so Second Sunday was a great time and place to do it,” says Margy Waller, Serendipity Director for Art on the Streets.
Another crosswalk will be painted during next month’s event, and Waller says they hope to have one or two painted at every Second Sunday between now and October.
Art on the Streets will also have an ArtWalk painting during the Walnut Hills Cincy Summer Streets on July 19, which was designed and outlined by Graves. There are also plans to have an ArtWalk at Northside’s Cincy Summer Streets on Aug. 24.
“ArtWalks reflect the vibrancy that the arts bring to neighborhoods, and show how arts bring people together,” Waller says.
The Main Street ArtWalks are being funded by a grant from Cincy Sundaes and a matching grant from The Greater Cincinnati Foundation’s Big Idea Challenge. The Walnut Hill’s ArtWalk is being funded by Interact for Health and The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation.

Columbus-based pretzel shop opening in OTR

An authentic German pretzel shop will soon open its doors in Over-the-Rhine. Columbus-based Brezel will be located in the 565-square-foot space next to Graeter’s at 6 W. 14th Street. 
Owner Brittany Baum and her husband, Tim, became pretzel enthusiasts after visiting Germany in 2008.
“I’m a vegetarian, and it’s hard to be one in Germany,” Baum says. “I lived off of Bavarian pretzels during our travels.”
When she returned to her native Columbus, Baum couldn’t find pretzels that compared to those in Germany. She and a friend spent hours in the kitchen, perfecting their recipe, and sold them at farmers’ markets from 2008-2011. In March 2011, they opened the first Brezel location at Columbus’ North Market.
After visiting Cincinnati last August, Baum fell in love with OTR.
“It reminded me a lot of the Short North neighborhood in Columbus,” she says. “It has a raw feeling to it. It felt unrefined, artistic and on the verge of self-discovery. I knew I wanted to play a role in creating OTR.”
Brezel is best known for its original salt pretzel, but there are 30 different flavors to choose from, including French Onion and Asiago, Peppercorn and Mozzarella, Jalapeno and Cheddar, Roasted Garlic and Cheddar, and Coconut and Almond. The menu includes pretzel twists, pretzel bites and scratch-made dips, as well as buns, soup bowls and pizza crust, which are all made from pretzel dough.
“I believe in working with other small businesses to collaborate and create interesting products, and I hope to share that vision with other businesses in OTR,” Baum says.
She hopes to open Brezel in time for Oktoberfest, but there is no set date yet. Hours of operation will include mid-morning through the evening, as well as late-night hours on the weekend.
“Brezel will be a place for people to grab a quick bite before or after work, as well as late night,” Baum says.

OTR mural to serve as gateway to Brewery District

A mural designed by Keith Neltner of Neltner Small Batch will soon adorn the bricks of 131 E. McMicken Ave, the former site of the Schmidt Brothers/Crown Brewery. Work on the mural has begun, and will be completed Aug. 1.
When finished, the mural will depict two men crowning a pint glass of beer. It was funded by grants through ArtWorks, and is being created by Neltner and a team of 15 other artists. It will be the first of three installations to complement the Brewing Heritage Trail.
“The mural is inspired by the incredible history and resurgence our city is experiencing,” Neltner says. “This mural features building a monument to beer’s rich history, crowning it (literally) in the Queen City. The ‘Earth rewards’ headline communicates that the earth has given us the raw materials from which we created and built an industry, culture and city. Rich patterns and graphic line work will create stopping power and a dramatic gateway into the Brewery District. Described as ‘blue collar,’ yet urban and contemporary.”
The mural will serve as a tourist spot on the Brewing Heritage Trail, as well as a point of interest for the neighborhood.
“Murals bring a most beautiful energy and vibrancy into urban spaces,” says Chelsea Koglemeier of Roadtrippers, whose building will host the mural. “I love the way kids are getting involved and people on the street stop to check it out.”

Cincy Summer Streets brings car-free fun to Walnut Hills, Northside

Tomorrow, a mile-long stretch of E. McMillan Street and Woodburn Avenue between Gilbert Avenue and Madison Road will be closed to cars, but open to pedestrians, bicyclists, skateboarders and rollerbladers from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Walnut Hills.
Cincy Summer Streets is based on similar events held in cities like Indianapolis, Louisville, New York City, Portland and Chicago to promote local businesses and community—all without cars.
Activities, which are free, include sidewalk painting, yoga, belly dancing, pottery, jazz dancing, a flash mob and hula hooping from a variety of local businesses. There will also be an ArtWalk crosswalk painting, held by Art in the Streets, where anyone can help create a piece of temporary public art.
The second Cincy Summer Streets will be held on August 24 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Northside. Hamilton Avenue will be closed between Pullan and Spring Grove avenues, and Blue Rock Street will be closed between Cherry Street and Dane Avenue.
Northside’s event will include activities from Happen Inc., My Nose Turns Red, Spun Bicycles, Galaxie Skate Shop, Queen City Bike, Wump Mucket Puppets, Word Play, Yoga Ah and more.
Each route is situated within the neighborhood’s local business district with locally owned shops and restaurants to enjoy, as well as the street activities. Cincy Summer Streets is accessible in both Walnut Hills and Northside by bike, bus and car, with street parking available nearby.
Cincy Summer Streets is sponsored by The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation and Interact for Health.
Follow Cincy Summer Streets on Twitter @cincystreets, #cincystreets and on Instagram @cincystreets.

Make Goebel Great has major plans for Mainstrasse park

Make Goebel Great, a grassroots organization in Covington, is working to create a safe, healthy and creative environment in the community. The organization was recently granted HUD funds in the form of a Community Development Block Grant to help redevelop Goebel Park.
Make Goebel Great plans to do general infrastructure improvements in the park, including adding a pump track—a continuous circuit of dirt rollers, berms and jumps that loops back on itself—behind the park’s shelters and gazebo, as well as adding multifunctional play structures that will serve as interactive art.
Emily Wolff, chair of Make Goebel Great, says the $50,000 grant will also be used to get matching grants for future park improvement projects.
Goebel Park, which is located in Mainstrasse Village between Fifth and Ninth streets, has a European feel, but it’s missing a green, public gathering space. There are future plans for a trail that will connect the park to the new riverfront trails and bicycle trails in Latonia.
“We want the park to be a touchstone for connectivity throughout Covington,” Wolff says. “That sense of community is lost in modern day society, and public gathering spaces help build that.”
The group also plans to enlist artists create two large-scale fracture pieces that will tell the story of Goebel Park. The German folk art pieces are planned for late fall. They also recently installed a chandelier in the gazebo, and will be painting a large checkerboard on the floor to engage the public.
“The whole point is to have the community be involved, and take ownership of the project,” Wolff says. “We want the community to feel like they’re making a difference with the projects.”
On August 17, Make Goebel Great is hosting a free concert in the park. Wolff’s 11-year-old twin boys’ rock band will be opening for a Covington band.
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