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Mayerson snags grant to fund arts program

In April, the Mayerson Foundation was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts grant for its Artistic Excellence Program. The $45,000 grant was matched by the Foundation to fund master classes for students at the School for Creative & Performing Arts, the nation’s only K-12 public school for the arts. 
The Artistic Excellence Program features seven master artists from around the world, seven resident musicians from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and nine dance workshops from the Cincinnati Ballet, all of which take place during the 2012-2013 school year. The Foundation has applied for a second NEA grant to fund the program next year.
This month, contemporary artist Nico Muhly visited SCPA in conjunction with the program. He worked with two student composers, held a Q&A and kicked off the year-long series with a performance for the students. Soapbox caught up with the Mayerson’s grants officer, Jeff Seibert, to ask him a few questions about the program.
Q: What is the Mayerson Artistic Excellence Program?
A: The Artistic Excellence Program supports world-class arts education at SCPA. As a lead funder in the $72 million campaign that created the new SCPA, the Mayerson Foundation recognized the importance of supporting the operation of SCPA. We support what the SCPA faculty are trying to accomplish by bringing the world’s best ‘visual aids’ into the classroom, the theater and the dance studio.
Q: Is it program available for all students at SCPA?
A: Yes. All of SCPA’s 1,400 students can benefit from the Artistic Excellence Program, but direct participation is based on relevance—jazz students attend Fred Hersch’s master classes; dance majors work with the Cincinnati Ballet—and based on students’ stages of development. Students in Advanced Music Theory attended Nico Muhly’s master class in composition, whereas first graders will attend the upcoming young people’s concert with Constella artists Anne Dudley and Libby Larsen.
Q: Does the Excellence Program provide scholarships for students?
A: All of the Excellence Programs are provided free of charge, except private music lessons. Since individual students benefit from private lessons and an enormous commitment to practicing is required, those students pay a small fraction of what the lessons actually cost. 

The Mayerson Foundation heavily subsidizes the cost of lessons, and provides scholarships, along with the Friends of SCPA and the Carlson-Berne Scholarship Fund of the CSO, to ensure that economic hardship is not an obstacle to students’ participation in our programs.
Q: Is there a theme for the program?
A: The theme of the Master Artists Series is ‘responding to opportunity.’ We partner with presenting organizations to bring visiting artists to SCPA. Our goal is to support talented students at SCPA across the artistic disciplines and musical genres. 

SCPA’s incredible faculty help us to create connections with the classroom curriculum. The master artists are living examples of art history that teach students technique, but also show then what a life in the arts is like.
Q: Besides Nico Muhly, what other master artists and artists-in-residence have presented master classes so far this year?
A: Violinist Joshua Bell presented a “career talk” on Sept. 21 and jazz pianist Fred Hersch presented a master class on Sept. 25. 

Later this year are playwright and Taft Museum Duncanson Artist-in-Residence Nikkole Salter on Oct. 24; world renowned violinist Anne Akiko Meyers on Oct. 26; percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, who led 1,000 drummers in the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics, on Nov. 2; violinist Gil Shaham on Jan. 25, 2013; violinist Leila Josefowicz on March 1, 2013; jazz saxophone great Branford Marsalis on March 14, 2013; and composer Jennifer Higdon on March 21, 2013. 

In April, Broadway star and TV actress Bebe Neuwrith will present a master class at SCPA, and one of the greatest living jazz pianists is currently under consideration to visit.
Q: Do all of these artists then perform concerts in conjunction with their master class?
A: Most of the artists perform at SCPA, but not in full concerts. They perform pieces to help illustrate the concepts being taught in their master classes. Whenever possible, SCPA students attend rehearsals and performances by the artists at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra or at the Cincinnati Ballet. Students get the opportunity to go backstage to meet the artists after their performances and then to experience them in the classroom. 

The opportunities provided to SCPA students are unlike any program elsewhere in the country.
Q: Is the public allowed to attend the master classes, or are they exclusively for SCPA students?
A: The community has made an enormous investment in SCPA and deserves to see what their investment is returning. Nearly every night of the year, audiences are treated to some of the finest student performances, plays, dances and art exhibits at SCPA. 

Because master classes occur during the school day and because students are intensely engaged in learning, public attendance is by invitation only. Observing the interaction between a master artist and a talented student is really fascinating, so whenever possible, we do try to provide access on an appropriate basis.
By Caitlin Koenig
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Attention coffee-lovers: Collective Espresso brewing in OTR

Dave Hart and Dustin Miller have been friends since junior high, but they went to college on different coasts. After moving to Cincinnati to start a food truck, they are in the process of opening a coffee shop in Over-the-Rhine. Collective Espresso hasn’t opened its doors to the public yet, but Hart and Miller are excited to bring their love of coffee to the Queen City.
While living in Seattle and Portland, Hart worked in the food service industry, which was closely linked to the coffee world. He fell in love with coffee and became “nerdy about doing coffee at home” by trying different beans and brewing methods. Miller became a barista at the age of 16 and has worked in coffee shops off and on since then. Still, coffee wasn’t their first business idea.
When the pair moved to Cincinnati about three and a half years ago, they considered adding to the city's growing fleet of food trucks. Then Hart and Miller talked about opening a creperie. One common thread connected the two ideas: coffee. So, eventually, they settled on opening a coffee bar.
Miller likes the mix of people and businesses in OTR. He hopes Collective Espresso will be a neighborhood place where people meet up to chat and enjoy their favorite coffee drink. Both Miller and Hart want to add to OTR's growing business district.
Hart and Miller designed Collective Espresso around the barista, who will be in the center of the room. The idea is for the barista to be able to make coffee and interact with customers at the same time. Instead of a collection of tables, Collective Espresso has a bar with seating on three sides. There will be a few tables, some of which can be pushed out onto the sidewalk when the weather permits.
Unlike many coffee shops, Collective Espresso will feature different brew methods, such as the Hario pour-over, Chemex and French press. Hart and Miller want to serve great coffee as they create a coffee culture and educate customers.
“Hopefully, seasoned coffee drinkers will seek us out, but we want our coffee to be for everyone,” says Hart.
Right now, Collective Espresso gets its coffee from two roasters: Deeper Roots Coffee in Mt. Healthy and Quills Coffee in Louisville. Both roasters trade directly with farmers, which is an important detail for Hart and Miller. They note the many human elements to coffee, from the picking of the beans to the pouring of the drinks. They want to feel a connection at each of those levels.
You also won’t find four different sizes of coffee drinks at Collective Espresso. Hart and Miller are sticking with the traditional, Italian way to serve espressos and cappuccinos, which means espressos are the smallest drink and lattes are about medium-sized.

While this streamlines the ordering process for customers, it might take longer for drinks to be made. That's ok with Hart and Miller, who want to create the best experience possible for each customer.
They plan to open their shop in late October or early November—check the business' Facebook page for updates.
By Caitlin Koenig
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New seafood restaurant makes a splash in Over-the-Rhine

Cincinnati isn’t on the coast, but that didn’t stop Derek dos Anjos and his wife Jocelyn from opening their seafood restaurant, The Anchor, on Sept. 14 in Over-the-Rhine. The Anchor’s menu boasts fresh oysters, a catch-of-the-day whole fish and a New England-style lobster roll, all lovingly prepared by Derek.
The dos Anjoses are Cincinnati natives, but they’ve spent the last 16 years in New York City, where Derek was part owner of Brooklyn Fish Camp. The couple moved back to Cincinnati with their two young children last August. Their plan was to open a restaurant and share their passion for seafood with Cincinnati.
The following September, they began looking for a space for their own restaurant. The Race Street building provided the ideal location: The Anchor-OTR is across the street from the newly renovated Washington Park and a mere block from Cincinnati Music Hall, and in close proximity to the thriving restaurant scene in the Gateway Quarter.
Although The Anchor isn’t on Vine Street with many of Cincinnati’s up-and-coming restaurants, Derek hopes it will start a new trend in the Washington Park area and become a destination eatery for Cincinnatians. The dos Anjoses also wanted to be part of the neighborhood.
The dos Anjoses are excited to be part of Over-the-Rhine and to help contribute to its revitalization. The Anchor is the first of what will soon by many restaurants and businesses to open around Washington Park.  
“We love the urban feel of the area,” says Jocelyn. “It feels like a little piece of Brooklyn in Cincinnati.”
The Anchor has a rustic feel but with an upscale atmosphere. The outdoor seating area that overlooks the park and Music Hall allows diners to imagine they’re eating anywhere in the world.
As a chef with years of experience under his belt, Derek wanted to bring different things to the table when it came to his menu. The Anchor gets its seafood daily from Bluefin Seafoods in Louisville and Mike Luken at Findlay Market.
The Anchor features a raw bar and a boutique wine list. The menu is small and changes to reflect available produce and seafood. There’s a tomato salad on the menu that will be changed to something else in the coming weeks when tomatoes go out of season, says Jocelyn.
For diners in search of the perfect meal, the couple suggests starting with a dozen oysters, six East Coast and six West Coast, a glass of Muscadet wine, followed by a cup of The Anchor’s clam chowder. For a main course, the dos Anjoses suggest the whole fish, grilled or fried, with a bottle of rosé. And for dessert, homemade blueberry crisp with ice cream is a must.
Currently, The Anchor is only open for dinner, but in the next few weeks, the dos Anjoses plan to introduce a lunch menu that features lighter fare, such as salads and sandwiches.

By Caitlin Koenig
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Washington Park web-app makes music choices social

So you’re visiting the newly renovated Washington Park for the first time, and you hear Duke Ellington’s “Solitude” drifting across the plaza.

Chances are one of your fellow guests helped select the accompaniment for the Park’s Walk of Fame via a smart device.

How? According to Amin Shawki, digital marketing manager at InfoTrust LLC in Blue Ash, it’s as simple as opening your browser and making your choices.

InfoTrust took on the project in conjunction with the American Classical Music Hall of Fame and a host of other partners.

Shawki explains how it works. Visit a mobile website any time to see a list of inductees into the Classical Music Hall of Fame and listen on your device to the pieces you choose.

If you visit the site while at Washington Park, you can still play the music you choose on your mobile device, but you can also suggest it be played in the plaza or at the fountain—think the Bellagio, but powered by visitors.

If you and a bunch of your friends want to hear Vivaldi, say, you can all access the site and vote to hear it.

“My favorite thing is the software’s ability to vote up,” Shawki says. “It’s really social. It brings the experience of listening music together out around you in real life.”

Shawki says InfoTrust has been working on the site since the beginning of the year. Employees have been practicing in conference rooms, picking and choosing their musical selections as they tweaked the programming.

While the fountain may not be ready when the rest of the park opens July 6, the website is already live and working on individual devices.

Shawki is excited about the results and what that will mean for Washington Park visitors. “They will have an awesome experience,” he says.

By Elissa Yancey
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'Everything Under the Crust' cooks up sweet, savory fare on Fourth Street

Look out, cobbler lovers, there's a new pastry shop downtown. 

Or there will be soon, when Aunt Flora opens "Everything Under the Crust" on Fourth Street in October. Look for the peach cobbler Martha Stewart helped make famous as well as more lunch-friendly savory cobblers, like the chicken-filled variety. 

Aunt Flora and her husband, who she calls "Uncle Flora," started selling pies based on her grand-aunt Flora's recipe in Findlay Market in 2006. They closed their successful Market shop last year because of health issues, but have spent the last few months catering and supplying their devoted followers. 

They snagged the storefronts at 211 and 213 Fourth Street for a new venture that Aunt Flora hopes will embody a "European cafe" feel. "It's such a cool little spot," she says. 

While she has plans to expand into a skillet-based restaurant in the space's second storefront, she's most excited about getting back into the kitchen and opening her doors to serve cobbler, pies, cakes, casseroles and homestyle desserts like banana pudding, bread pudding and rice pudding.

"It's gonna be whatever I decide to cook that day," she says.

The time she has spent preparing the new space has both excited and frustrated her. "I really want to work in the kitchen," she says. "I'm going to be doing some cooking classes and cooking demonstrations."

For now, Aunt Flora could use some design help to put the finishing touches to the pastry shop, perhaps a cobbler-loving restaurant stylist to guide her in creating the perfect atmosphere so that she can focus her energy on the food. 

Now that the floors and walls are ready, she has just one question left: "What do we make this place look like?"

To offer support or artistic services, please email Flora.

By Elissa Yancey
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MPMF Box Truck Festival features fun, games, Third Man Records

The Midway of the circus that is the Midpoint Music Festival gears up this year with a fresh Box Truck Festival, produced for the second time in partnership with SpringBoardArtworks' creative entrepreneurship training program.

Open and free to all ages, the Midpoint Midway features 10 box trucks transformed into interactive installations that range from words of wisdom to art-in-the-making to improvisational theater. Oh, yeah, all that, food, beverages, music AND a visit from Jack White's Third Man Records' Rolling Record Store.

Sarah Corlett, SpringBoard director, says that the Box Truck Festival embodies the creative spirit of the artist/entrepreneurs her program attracts. 

"The intention for both our entrepreneurs and the other artists involved is that this event provides another platform for experimenting with ideas, creating unique experiences to engage audiences and maybe even serving as a launching point for a new entrepreneurial adventure," she says.

Two of the trucks feature SpringBoard entrepreneurs: 

• Magnetic Force, created by Loose Parts Projects, is a moveable, interactive magnetic sculpture made from materials that can be moved, built upon and combined.

• The Hyperbolic Healing House, created by Lucius Limited, offers a serene psychedelic oasis in the form of a biomorphic micro-temple.

Other trucks encourage dancing, remote-control car-racing, striking a documentary-friendly pose and poster shopping, Corlett says. "As we had hoped, this project, in the vein of SpringBoard, is truly  sparking creative enterprise."

By Elissa Yancey
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LIVE MAKE launch in Brewery District highlights ARCHinati Festival

Bradley Cooper knew about Maker Works in Ann Arbor and the TechShop franchise, as well as other independent spaces around the country that encourage DIYers and design professionals by providing tools, space and a supportive community.

So when he and fellow architect Paul Karalambo took on the job of creating a design competition to create such a space in Cincinnati's Brewery District, he understood its inherent importance. Creating a large space for shared tools and a budding entrepreneur community could not only assist current businesses and residents, but also entice new graduates to find ways to build their businesses in Cincinnati.

The result of that thinking is the LIVE•MAKE competition, an initiative of the local branch of the American Institute of Architects, which grew out of the updated zoning for the Brewery District's updated zoning: urban mix. 

"It's important to have an entity like this in the city for people to take advantage of," says Cooper, a Cincinnati native who graduated from UC's architecture program and received his Master's degree from University of Michigan. 

For now, the competition remains theoretical, Cooper says. Its official launch on Oct. 6. serves as the culmination of the week-long ARCHinati Festival, which includes a full slate of building-friendly events that start Sept. 28. 

The LIVE•MAKE kick-off at the Christian Moerlein Brewhouse on Moore Street features not only brewery district tours, but a sampling of local artistic and design-focused entrepreneurs whose work provides a glimpse into what LIVE•MAKE could become. Guests include members of the Losantiville Design CollectiveHIVE13 and Brazee Street Studios.

Reservations won't be accepted; the first 160 guests to arrive will get free tours and beverages courtesy of Christian Moerlein. "We want people to show up and be there for what's happening," Cooper says.

LIVE•MAKE designs have already been submitted from as far away as Texas and California, all before the competition's official launch, and months before the competition's Dec. 20 deadline, Cooper says.

"It's generating interest as a way of spurring development," he says. 

After winners are announced at the end of January, the local AIA chapter hopes to hold a celebration in the late spring. Gaining interest, and funding, could spur real-life development next year.

By Elissa Yancey
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Kaze marks next phase in Gateway development

This fall, Jon Zipperstein and Hideki Harada toss their hats into Over-the-Rhine’s restaurant ring with Kaze, a gastro pub and sushi bar, to the Gateway Quarter at the corner of 14th and Vine streets.

Zipperstein owns Embers, a Montgomery restaurant that serves steak, seafood and sushi; Harada was a sushi chef there when it first opened. Although he left after two years to sharpen his culinary skills, the pair remained in contact and eventually decided to open a restaurant together in OTR.

 “We were just looking for a really dynamic part of town, and Over-The-Rhine certainly fit the bill,” Zipperstein says.
They opted for the Color building because it offers more than 3,500 square feet of restaurant space, plus an outdoor area where they will put a beer garden that will be partially enclosed with a fire pit.

Building owner 3CDC reports the $4.1 million renovation of the mammoth space will also feature 6,000 square feet of office space.

“If you’ve been to the building a year ago, when it was first shown to me, it was an absolute wreck,” Zipperstein says. “You had to have a great imagination to think about what it could be. And you could say the same about just about any building they work on down there. They take buildings that are in complete disrepair, that are 100 years old or more, and turn them into little gems.”

The atmosphere at Kaze will be comfortable yet urban, Zipperstein says. He and Harada like the idea of reclaiming the historic building, so they will be leaving a lot of exposed brick. Other restaurant plans include an open kitchen, so diners can take advantage of insiders’ views of meal prep.

The menu will be about 50 percent sushi/50 percent izakaya, which is Japanese style pub food—lots of small plates, grilled meats and noodle soups. Kaze will use local produce.

Their beverage selection will include traditional favorites, plus they will import Japanese beer, liquor and non-alcoholic drinks that have never before graced Cincinnati shelves.

The plan is to open the bar first around the beginning of November. Shortly after, they will serve food in the bar and open the beer garden. In December, the dining room will be open for private parties exclusively. After these soft openings, Kaze plans a grand opening in January 2013.

By Stephanie Kitchens

Requiem Project takes root, grows community

Just one year ago, the Emery Theatre, one of the nation's top acoustic concert halls, sat empty in Over the Rhine. For decades, its once-sumptuous spaces were neglected. They eroded. They crumbled. They gathered more than their share of dust.

Since last November, more than 6,000 guests have seen art shows, watched dancers perform, heard beautiful music and witnessed a dream unfold in the spaces Mary Emery had built to serve the people of Cincinnati.

That dream, known as the Requiem Project, continues to build this fall with a five-event series called "Art Moves Here," which debuts Sept. 30 with a FotoFocus-affiliated exhibit called "Handsome" by Chris Hoeting.

Hoeting built "Handsome" specific to the Emery's nooks and crannies, knowing that his show would run in tandem with Midpoint Music Festival performances at the site as well as a showing of Mike Disfarmer's beautiful and sometimes unsettling portraits, set to be on display starting .

Like so many other endeavors over the past year, "Handsome" reflects the power and the potential of the Emery to occupy an emerging space in the local arts scene—to bring together art forms, artists and neighbors and together, to build a stronger, vibrant and diverse community.

"All of these things live together," says Requiem Project co-founder Tara Lindsey Gordon. She and partner Tina Manchise lead the all-volunteer effort to restore the Emery, which publicly kicked off on 11.11.11.

Since then, the two have built a non-profit business dedicated to the idea that Cincinnati needs the Emery. The idea that the space gives something powerful to the community, from guests at performances and fundraisers to the four neighborhood kids who "work" at the Emery after school.

Their fall season is filled with partnerships that bring something new to the city, from multimedia shows in conjunction with FotoFocus and independent artists, to a show with the Contemporary Arts Center that features Andy Warhol screen tests that will be projected on stage during a music performance.

"This is a huge endeavor," says Manchise. She could be talking about the complex programming line-up that involves Requiem's five major events this fall or the massive renovation work the Emery needs. The building sat empty for years, she notes, because keeping its doors open requires near-constant work.

She and Lindsey Gordon, who average between 40 and 80 hours a week doing Requiem Project work, take no salaries. They admit the task before them can feel daunting. But unlike last year, when some looked at the Emery as "the Tina and Tara show," now they know there are far more people involved, and invested in the theater's success.

First, there's the core of more than a dozen dedicated volunteers who help with everything from volunteer coordination to site logistics. Then, there are the neighbors, from fellow business owners to the fire marshall (who checks in weekly) to neighbors who find support and respite at the Emery.

Manchise and Lindsey Gordon take the "open door" policy seriously, partnering with groups large and small to offer spaces, time and support to independent artists, groups like the YPCC, Exhale Dance Tribe and even the Starfire Council, who look to the Emery as a safe place for practice and experimentation.

"We're not only a venue," says Manchise, who notes that one of the "Art Moves Here" events takes place outside of the historic theater.

"Contained," a collection of 11 shipping containers filled with different artists' works, will be set in the Grammer's parking lot on Walnut Street. The Oct. 20 event illustrates the Requiem Project's goal to connect with the community both inside and outside of the Emery.

Manchise and Lindsey Gordon know the stakes are high. It will take $25 million to revive the Emery. For now, the partners are in a sense performing perpetual CPR on the site, keeping it alive, making improvements as they can and building a community of supporters who aren't afraid to get their hands dirty, literally.

They work with partners who accept the extra challenges inherent in a space with a temporary certificate of occupancy. (Manchise and Lindsey Gordon will apply for another next year.) They work with weekend volunteers who clean under every seat in the auditorium because maintenance doesn't come cheap. They head home with green hands and way too much information about Port-o-lets and water supplies.

They stress over taking on too many projects. They squabble over printer jams and QuickBooks. They joke that they spend so much time together that it's like they are sharing tight quarters on a ship.

And still, they couldn't be more proud of the space where they have invested their money, their time and their lives.

"The theater is doing exactly what it is meant to do," Manchise says. "A buiding like this can do so much good."

Find out more about the Requiem Project's fall season as well as the fall line-up of events at the Emery on the newly re-launced website, built by Mower + Associates.

By Elissa Yancey
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Park[ed] creates permanent food truck venue in OTR

As crowds soak up free concerts, performances and movies in the new Washington Park, starting this Friday night, they’ll be able to soak up their favorite food truck fare there, too.

That’s when, during the Friday night concert, the parking lot for the non-profit Emanuel Center on Race Street will transform into the inaugural Park[ed], by The City Flea, starting at 7 pm. 

Located just across the street from the Park’s main stage, the lot typically sits empty after business hours and on weekends. During Park[ed], local food truck vendors will set up shop there and sell menu items perfect for taking right back to the park.

“There’s huge demand for something to eat,” says organizer Nick Dewald, half of the dynamic duo behind The City Flea  (with his wife Lindsay). Once he learned that Emanuel staff was interested in finding new ways to connect more with Washington Park and the community, he set out to create Park[ed].

While he loves the restaurants on Vine and Main streets, he notes the lack of “grab and go” foods that would be ideal for park events like the Over the Rhine concert that drew thousands of fans to the Park.

“This is giving people a quicker option,” he says. “If you leave the park to go find food, there’s a decent chance you won’t come back.”

Since he was already connected with nearly all of the city’s food truck vendors through The City Flea, he asked owners what they thought of the idea. “Everybody was on board,” he says. 

From staples like Café de Wheels and Turophilia to newcomers like C’est CheeseQueen City Cookies and Eat Mobile, the options will vary from event to event and night to night. “We’re open to having every mobile vendor in the city take part in some way or another,” says Dewald.

Offerings will vary based on the occasion, the size of crowd expected and the availability of vendors, Dewald says, but high demand could dictate more hours and more options. 

“It could turn into a nightly thing,” he says. “It’s all about making it work for the vendors as well.”

For his part, Dewald will set up a calendar for the space and publicize it, using a new Twitter handle to announce which trucks will be on site for specific events. Plans also include adding some atmosphere—some lighting, a couple of tables, music and maybe even a cornhole set or a ping pong table to keep patrons occupied while they wait for their orders. 

“We’re not looking to become a place to come and hang out,” Dewald says. His goal is to provide a consistent space for food trucks to vend while satisfying the hunger of Park guests and neighbors in Over the Rhine. 

“We like this proximity to the park so much,” he says.

Since alcohol sales in the park help pay for its operations, he has no plans to add alcohol to Park[ed]’s offerings. Dewald says the trucks will be set up and serving by 7 pm, and plans to keep them running till 10 pm on nights when events occur in Washington Park.

Find out the schedule and day-by-day options by following @eat_PARKED on Twitter.

By Elissa Yancey
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Downtown boutique hotels offer new views

What do art installations, European-inspired cuisine and rooftop bars have in common?

They are amenities in new boutique hotels coming to downtown Cincinnati.

Boutique hotels – which tend to be smaller, offer unique rooms and specialized services - have long been a European mainstay and have increased in popularity in large metropolitan cities like New York, Chicago and Boston.

In Cincinnati, three historic buildings have been or will be renovated into boutique hotels to provide more rooms, more retail space and more culinary choices for both out-of-town travelers and local residents who choose to stay closer to home and “staycation,” officials say.

Last week, the City of Cincinnati approved a deal that would convert the former Cincinnati Enquirer building at 617 Vine St. into a $27 million hotel. SREE Hotels LLC of North Carolina said it plans to open the 238-room hotel and 12,000 feet of retail space on the street level by the end of 2014. Full details of hotel amenities have not been disclosed. The company operates 30 hotels in four states and is franchised with Marriott International, Hilton Hotels, Intercontinental Hotels and Starwood Hotels.

The hotel would add 35 full-time and 20 part-time employees.

“It is always great when we can preserve and restore one of our historic, old buildings in Cincinnati,” Mayor Mark Mallory says. “The deal also illustrates the increasing demand for more hotel rooms in Cincinnati. We have been focused on creating providing a great visitor experience for all of our guests, and that is paying off with increased tourism and convention business.”

The 21c Museum Hotel, on schedule to open by the end of this year, will add 156 hotel rooms and suites to the former Hotel Metropole as well as an 8,000-square-foot contemporary art museum.

The hotel will also feature a rooftop bar and spa. The restaurant and bar, which will be named Metropole, will emphasize Cincinnati’s Germanic beginning and will use local ingredients. ?

The Neoclassical-styled Metropole, which first opened in 1912, was added to the National Register of Historic Place in June 2009.

The hotel recently began accepting reservations online at www.21cmuseumHotels.com beginning in January 2013 and beyond, says Molly Swyers, spokeswoman for Louisville-based 21 C Museum Hotels.

“In our minds, there isn't a more ideal location for 21c than in the heart of a city's cultural district, and so we are thrilled to have the Contemporary Art Center next door, the Aronoff Center across the street, Fountain Square just a block away, and many other cultural institutions nearby,’’ Swyers says. “We are very excited to do our part to contribute to the growing vibrancy of downtown Cincinnati.”

She says the company anticipates hosting job fairs in September.

The Eagle Realty Group renovated the historic Phelps Apartment building, across from Lytle Park on East Fourth Street, into a 134-room Residence Inn, which opened in March 2011. The Phelps runs at about more than 80 percent occupancy and is among the top-ranked Residence Inn extended stay hotels in their system, Eagle Realty officials say. The Phelps bar offers craft cocktails and small bites. It was the first new hotel in downtown Cincinnati in 30 years.

Across downtown and tucked away is the Symphony Hotel Bed and Breakfast, which is likely more known locally for its nightly five-course dinners. The hotel, across the street from Music Hall, is a restored mansion that offers just four rooms, all of which are named after composers. Rooms are decorated with antiques and have a European flair.

While each hotel will have unique offerings, they all will showcase a slice of Cincinnati’s rich history, architecture and influence – which just may be the true definition of boutique.

By Chris Graves

Chris Graves, is the assistant vice president of digital and social media at the Powers Agency, and would love to know of other Boutique hotels in the city. (Follow her on Twitter)

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

New single-family units coming to Pendelton District in OTR

A year ago, Chris Lacey moved from Maderia to the Pendleton District of Over the Rhine to live in one of the six new single-family homes he built on Dandridge Avenue. 
The town homes sold out within three months of completion and Lacey saw the opportunity to help turn the neighborhood. At the intersection of Pendleton Street and Dandridge, Lacey now owns six other buildings and is in the process of rehabbing them into single-family homes. Some will even have rental units in the building that when rented, will pay the mortgage of the home. The reason for creating single-family houses is to draw homebuyers to Over the Rhine, something that will ultimately help change the neighborhood. 
"Homebuyers drive change," Lacey says. "Sure, just having people renting in a neighborhood and having a presence helps, but if a momma bear is somewhere, she is going to make sure her and her kids are safe. Families also have necessities they need nearby. If families are around, businesses will come in." 
Lacey, who has been in development for over 30 years, says that many young professionals that move downtown after college or obtaining a job will likely move out once they have children, looking for better schools and safer neighborhoods. The new homes will have yards, parking, in-home washer and dryers and other amenities that are usual in suburbs, but not as often in urban areas. 
Adjacent to the buildings Lacey owns is an acre and a half lot he also owns. Right now, the lot is filled with a community garden and the rest is filled with hundreds of sunflowers, which Lacey planted to brighten up the area. 
"I've done it in other places it really helps liven it up," Lacey says. "I cleaned cars, sofas and tons of garbage out of the lot, now it's pretty much a community park." 
Lacey plans on building  10 to 12 more homes in the lot within the next year or two. The units that are currently being worked on will open in October and continue through the next months. After all of Lacey's current land is developed, he will have 30 completed units within one block.
Before moving downtown, Lacey and his wife contemplated moving out of town, but instead moved downtown and Lacey says they couldn't be more happy about the decision. 
"It's rewarding to help fix something that is broken," Lacey says. "Both the buildings and the neighborhood are turning around." 

Lacey says he has his eye on 14 other buildings in the Pendleton District.
By Evan Wallis

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

Pedal Wagon doubles fleet, adds Reds to tour partner list

Since the beginning of the year, Jack Heekin and his business partner, Tom O'Brian, have been steering their Pedal Wagon around Cincinnati, putting smiles on the faces of their customers and bringing business into local bars. 
The 15-person, pedal powered machine, has been booked with four pub crawls on Friday and Saturday nights as well as several on weekdays. With business continuing to grow, Heekin and O'Brian are adding a second Pedal Wagon to their fleet. The second wagon will allow for more tours and new promotions, including a deal with the Cincinnati Reds. 
Heekin contacted the Reds about collaborating on a home game promotion that will sell group tickets to Pedal Wagon riders and give them a five-stop pub crawl before the baseball game. Heekin notes that some Reds fans may already have season tickets and still be interested in the Pedal Wagon pub crawl, so it will also be available without the discounted Reds tickets. 
"It's just another way to get people downtown and into local businesses," Heekin says. "That was our goal from the start." 
Heekin hopes the partnership will also bring a more festive atmosphere to the Banks during home games and will also give Pedal Wagon riders discounts at the selected stops. 
"All the businesses we've worked with so far have been very thankful for the business we bring, and we feel the same way," Heekin says. "This will help us do more of that." 
Heekin and O'Brian hope to have three pedal wagons on the streets of Cincinnati by the end of the year, and their second one will be on the streets in three to four weeks. Another goal the pair has, to obtain an open container license for the Pedal Wagons, will have to wait for the winter months.
"As much fun as it would be to get the license, we don't want that to be the focus," Heekin says. "We really just want to get people out to enjoy the city. The more wagons we have, the more we can do that." 
By Evan Wallis
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