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New establishments are filling in holes in the Pleasant Ridge business district


While seasoned staples like Gas Light Café, Everybody’s Records, Pleasant Ridge Chili, the Loving Hut and Queen City Comics have kept the Pleasant Ridge business district afloat, the strip of Montgomery at Ridge Road with its vacant buildings has remained somewhat sleepy.

In the past few years though, new establishments including Nine Giant Brewing, Share: Cheesebar, Casa Figueroa, Molly Malone's, The Overlook Lodge and Red Balloon Café + Play have joined the community. Over-the-Rhine restaurant Revolution Rotisserie recently announced it will be opening in PR.

Emily Frank of Share: Cheesebar, which is set to open in August, has lived in Pleasant Ridge for the past four years. After moving back to Cincinnati to be with her family, she started a food truck (C'est Cheese), and her love for all things cheese lead her to open the Cheesebar in her neighborhood.

These plans were put on hold after a horrific accident that led to a trying recovery. Yet, she was encouraged by her Pleasant Ridge neighbors. She says the “community was insanely supportive” throughout her long recovery. 

Frank is a self-proclaimed “Ridger” through and through and couldn’t be happier about the developments.

Brandon Hughes, co-owner of Nine Giant, landed in Pleasant Ridge in what he calls a “Goldilocks” situation. The space and the neighborhood were just what he and his brother-in-law were looking for. Huges felt that at the time, the business district was underserved.

"We wanted to be part of a community and liked the idea of a revitalization,” he says. Nine Giant recently celebrated its one-year anniversary.

While newer businesses are filling in the gaps, the senior establishments have been standing strong for decades.

Matt Parmenper who’s been with Queen City Comic almost since it opened in 1987, is encouraging yet skeptical of all of the booming new businesses. “It’s great. It does seem trendy. Hopefully they do well.”

Longtime resident Dave Smith grew up in Pleasant Ridge, and he still lives there with his wife Debbie. “I’m excited about the city in general. It’s fun to see it coming back to life; fun to see people and businesses moving back here.”

Smith has watched the business district thin out. Although it’s never been totally empty, he describes the Pleasant Ridge he grew up in as a vibrant business district that declined with the opening of Kenwood Mall.

"Gaslight Café is a favorite watering spot of the locals, and Everybody’s Records has been there a long time too." 

There are still open spaces and local businesses are showing more interest. While parking is tough, there are plans for more strategic public parking in the making.

The neighborhood is hosting its Pleasant Ridge Day/Night from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday. Check out the event's Facebook page for more info.


Gorilla Cinema is launching a new brand strategy that's sure to shake things up


Gorilla Cinema, the masterminds behind The Overlook Lodge, The Video Archive and Pop Art Con (its newest concept), have launched a possibly radical new marketing plan: abandoning the over-crowded newsfeeds of Facebook.

“It’s a process and evolution for how we use Facebook,” says Jacob Trevino, owner. “We’re moving away from regular posts toward more video marketing about the experiences we provide. We still want people to be actively engaged with the brand, we just don’t want to be the only ones shouting.”

Facebook users won’t see an abrupt departure but more of a gradual exit over the next year and a half. Meanwhile, Gorilla Cinema will ramp up its events and emphasize its uniqueness through other outlets.

“Life is hard, and we want to give people an escape from the every day — where the world can come to you,” Trevino says. “We want to create more experiences outside of our bars. Experiences that everyone wants to talk about because they surprise our audiences.”

For Trevino, it’s also about creating an expectation of excellence and an engaged staff. “We don’t hire ‘just’ bartenders. We look for creatives and forward thinkers who make people feel welcome and create amazing experiences, but who can also make picture-perfect drinks.”

Gorilla Cinema has several big announcements planned for the coming months, including more details on its largest cinema event to-date, which is scheduled for Aug. 2 at Washington Park, as well as more movie pop-ups and the 2018 Pop Art Con.

So if there will be fewer posts on Facebook, how will you know when there's an event?

“If people really want to be the first to know, they should visit the bars since we make announcements there first, plus the bartenders often let something slip early,” Trevino says. “We’re focusing our social media efforts on Instagram, but look for new videos on our website and Facebook too.”

For Trevino, movies are something that can bring people together to share common experiences. He's built his bars around cinematic concepts and creating a sense of community.

“We want to take people on a new adventure and get people into exploring new places,” he says. "But we also want our bars to be for the people who already live in the neighborhood. We try to be active in the community because it’s important that the neighbors and other businesses know and love us first.”

As Gorilla Cinema ramps up its new marketing efforts, Cincinnatians can expect to see more events and experiences outside of Pleasant Ridge and Walnut Hills (where The Overlook and The Video Archive are), as Trevino and his team bring their love of cinema magic to larger audiences.
 


CDF/IFF nonprofit loan program leads to community reinvestment


In 2015, the Cincinnati Development Fund teamed up with IFF (and the JP Morgan Chase Foundation) to provide loans to nonprofits in Greater Cincinnati and Dayton. The facilities and equipment loan program was designed for nonprofits that served low-income neighborhoods and special-needs populations. 
 
“This has been an incredible opportunity, and we’ve lifted this partnership up as a model for CDFI collaboration across the region,” says Kirby Burkholder, vice president and executive director for the Eastern Region of IFF.
 
Eight area nonprofits — Bi-Okoto Drum and Dance Co., The Center for Great Neighborhoods, Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky, DECA Preparatory Academy, Findlay Kitchen, Kennedy Heights Arts Center, United Way and the Washing Well — have all received loans through the program, totaling more than $6.6 million.
 
Development highlights that were the direct result of these loans include:
  • The Corporation for Findlay Market borrowed $980,000 to buy, renovate and equip Findlay Kitchen.
  • The Center borrowed $1.75 million to convert the historic Hellmann Lumber building in Covington to a headquarters that now includes community meeting and event space and eight artist studios.
  • A $140,000 loan allowed Opportunity Matters to turn a vacant storefront into a nonprofit laundromat for Lower Price Hill residents.
The partnership has resulted in impact beyond the loan fund, says Jeanne Golliher, executive director of CDF. For example, IFF has brought $6 million in New Market Tax Credits to the area to help support the development of the Shelterhouse Men’s Center on Gest Street in Over-the-Rhine.
 
IFF also participated in a loan with CDF to help develop Market Square near Findlay Market.
 
“IFF has also opened the doors to a new funding partner, which resulted in $2 million in additional capital for us that can be used for additional IFF partner loans or for our direct lending,” Golliher says.
 
Initial grant funds have been expended, but Golliher and Burkholder both say that their respective organizations plan to continue their partnership. They’re also working with the community to help fill gaps and to better understand need.
 
“We want to continue to explore opportunities to refine and grow together,” Burkholder says.
 
Check out a video about the program here.
 

Update: Status of food trucks to restaurants


Over the past few months, a number of well-known food truck owners have announced that they’re branching out and opening brick-and-mortar restaurants and retail spaces. We decided it was time to give readers an update on the restaurants, as the majority of them are planning to open soon.
 
Dojo Gelato, 1735 Blue Rock St., Northside
Owner Michael Christner is renovating the former J.F. Dairy Corner building into a second location for Dojo. The building is cleaned up, and now construction can begin on the space. Christner plans to move Dojo’s production operations to Northside and will offer an expanded menu that will include gelato as well as traditional ice cream treats.
 
Panino, 1313-1315 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine
Nino Loreto sold his food truck to fund a brick-and-mortar restaurant, which will also serve homemade salami and charcuterie. Panino will feature a casual deli with a walk-up meat counter, plus a restaurant that will offer a small menu of charcuterie plates, crostinis, bruschetta and paninis as well as a small selection of entrees. An opening date hasn’t been set yet because, once build-out on the space is finished, Loreto has to make his meat products, which take a while to cure. Keep tabs on Panino’s Facebook page for updates.
 
Share: Cheesebar, 6105 Ridge Road, Pleasant Ridge
C’est Cheese is one of the city’s most beloved food trucks, maybe because the menu is made up of the ultimate comfort food: grilled cheese. Owner Emily Frank is taking her love of the “cheesy goodness” and opening a retail cheese shop, complete with cheese plates, craft beer and wine to enjoy in-store. There have been a number of setbacks, including a life-threatening injury that Frank experienced earlier this year, but the plans and designs for the space have been submitted and Frank is hoping for a fall opening.
 
Urban Grill on Main, 6623 Main St., Newtown
Randy Reichelderfer and sister-in-law Betsy Eicher are renovating an 1870s farmhouse into a full-service restaurant and coffee shop. The menu will feature customer favorites from the Urban Grill Food Truck, which will continue operating once the restaurant opens. They’re still shooting for a late summer opening in Newtown.
 

What's on Tap: When the next round of craft breweries will open their doors


Over the past year or so, the Development section has provided the lowdown on new craft breweries that are planning to open in the Greater Cincinnati area. A few have come to fruition — sometimes even ahead of schedule — while others, it seems, have kept us waiting for beer for way too long.
 
We’ve rounded up the updates and opening dates for breweries closing in on the finish line.
 
Darkness Brewing, 224 Fairfield Ave., Bellevue
Darkness opened to the public for the first time on June 10, but its grand opening won’t be until mid-July, when its first batch of beer will be tapped and ready for drinking. Darkness plans to open with a Kentucky common ale, a black IPA and a milk stout. Until then, the taproom will be open 4-11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 1-8 p.m. on Sundays. So head on over to NKY to check out the space and have a pint from Darkness’ curated list of guest taps.
 
Nine Giant Brewing, 6095 Montgomery Road, Pleasant Ridge
Opening day is June 25 at 12 noon. Nine Giant will have a number of beers on tap as well as guest taps from local breweries, plus wine for those who don’t love beer. The brewery’s kitchen, The Snackery, will be serving upscale bar eats, and there will be special events throughout the day featuring unique one-off beers from Nine Giant and other breweries. Be there!
 
The Woodburn Brewery, 2800 Woodburn Ave., Walnut Hills
You may have visited Woodburn Brewery during a Walk on Woodburn or gotten a sneak peek during the Flying Pig Marathon, but it won’t be officially open and pouring its own beer until later this year. The 4,000-square-foot space will have 36 taps, and beehives for Queen City Bee Co. were just added to its roof.
 
Bircus Brewing Company, Ludlow
Bircus took a unique angle to fund its venture, utilizing the crowdsourcing platform Seed Invest, and was approved last week to officially produce beer at the Ludlow Theatre. Head brewer Alex Clemens will begin brewing soon using Belgian-inspired recipes. Bircus is also dedicating sales from 26 Mondays to community organizations and the other 26 Mondays to the Circus Mojo Foundation to help fund innovative circus programs and scholarships. (The Ludlow Theatre is owned by Paul Miller, founder of Circus Mojo, and is also a shared practice space for the circus and the brewery.)

Brink Brewing, 5905 Hamilton Ave., College Hill
Announced in February, Brink began the remodeling of its 3,200-square-foot taproom and brewery last week. It’s currently under construction and is slated to open in September.
 

ArtWorks adding 23 more murals to Cincinnati this summer


ArtWorks staff and youth apprentices will work on 23 mural projects around Great Cincinnati this summer. A project kickoff will be held on June 20 on Pleasant Street in front of the future home of the Rosemary Clooney mural.
 
New murals coming to a wall near you this summer include:
 
Annie “Little Sure Shot” Oakley Mural, 3211 Madison Road, Oakley
The mural will pay homage to Annie Oakley, who performed in a number of sharp shooter contests in Cincinnati (though Oakley is not named for her). It’s supported by Voltage Furniture and Vandercar Holdings, and the community can donate to a matching funds campaign with Sara M. and Michelle Vance Waddell here.
 
Female Legend Vote Mural, 1606 Pleasant St., Over-the-Rhine
This mural will honor singer and actress Rosemary Clooney, who was born in Maysville, Ky., and won a spot to sing on WLW radio with her sister Betty back in the 1940s. The mural will be part of the Cincinnati Legends Series, is in partnership with 3CDC and is supported by School Outfitters. The community can donate to a matching funds campaign with 1919 Investment Counsel here.
 
Kennedy Heights Art Center Annex Mural, 6620 Montgomery Road, Kennedy Heights
Lead artist Casey Millard and 14 youth apprentices will create a multi-medial mural on the facade of the new Carl, Robert, Richard and Dorothy Lindner Annex at KHAC. The community can donate to a matching funds campaign with American Scaffolding here.
 
Prost to Cincinnati Installation Series
ArtWorks once again partnered with the Brewery District Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation on this series of six murals that will help drive development along the Brewing Heritage Trail. The multi-media pieces will depict love and honor for the city’s brewing history and will be installed by a variety of artists. The community can donate to a matching funds campaign through Power2Give here.
 
Walnut Hills “This Is 5 Points” Mural, 2429 Gilbert Ave., Walnut Hills
This is the final mural in a series of five wayfinding pieces that identify and enliven the redeveloped Five Points Alley. It will be completed in partnership with BLDG.
 
Winsor McCay Mural, 917 Main St., OTR
McCay moved to Cincinnati in 1891 and created the first comic strip for The Enquirer in 1903. Panels from his most famous cartoon, “Little Nemo,” will be recreated on the Main Street building in partnership with 917 Partners. The mural is part of the Cincinnati Masters Mural Series, along with work by Charley Harper, John Ruthven and Tom Wesselmann.
 
Other mural projects this summer include a new Cincinnati Heritage Series that honors Kenner Products and the city’s toy design history; an art installation in the main lobby of Duke Energy Convention Center that will explore the theme of Cincinnati or the Ohio River; and a mural by local artist Jim Effler that will span two walls on Central Parkway to depict the creation of Ohio’s canal system.
 
Through a partnership with Keep Cincinnati Beautiful, ArtWorks also plans to create 12 new murals — New Lines OTR Alleyways Project — in Over-the-Rhine alleyways in an area bordered by Main, 13th, Sycamore and Liberty streets. The goal is to transform the more neglected spaces into works of art while making the alleys safe and more walkable.
 

Cincinnati Public Schools announcement puts Vision 2020 plans into motion


Seven Cincinnati Public Schools are getting updated curriculum for the next school year, the first changes in a five-year plan, called Vision 2020, to help bring greater equity, access and opportunity for all district students.
 
Traditionally, CPS has been divided into magnet schools and neighborhood schools. Magnets are harder to get into and often involve a citywide lottery for admission, while neighborhood school enrollment is based on where students live. Vision 2020 intends to break down these divisions and add specialty programming to neighborhood schools as well as some magnet schools.
 
Next year, Chase Elementary School in Northside and Woodford Paideia Academy in Kennedy Heights will have new art and culture programs. With the new fine arts initiative throughout the district, students at Chase will play in a band and students at Woodford will play in an orchestra.
 
An environmental science program will be enacted at Pleasant Hill Academy in College Hill. The school has access to about 18.5 acres of green space, and students will spend a lot of time learning outside.
 
A high-tech program will start at Hays-Porter Elementary in the West End, which will include online learning paired with traditional learning, and students will begin studying coding, robotics and gaming.
 
A gifted program will begin at Cheviot Elementary School, much like the gifted program at Hyde Park School. Student enterprise programs will also start at Rothenberg Preparatory Academy in Over-the-Rhine and Westwood Elementary School, where students will learn marketing and networking skills while designing and building new products.
 
Vision 2020 will expand during the 2017-18 school year and beyond, with other new programs starting across the district. A few ideas include building a high school ROTC program and creating a gender-based elementary school.
 
Program costs are being figured into CPS’ budget, but specific numbers won’t be available until May when the district presents its annual budget. 
 

Six local projects awarded $275,900 in Duke Energy Urban Revitalization grants


The Duke Energy Urban Revitalization grant program has doled out $1.3 million to 35 projects since its inception in 2011. Six local projects were recently awarded $275,900 in grant money to help eliminate blight, create jobs and increase business retention and expansion in Covington, Newport, Pleasant Ridge, Price Hill and Walnut Hills.
 
The Catalytic Fund received $30,000 to restore buildings on East Fifth Street in Covington. The project will create 4,000 square feet of move-in ready commercial space as well as five new market-rate apartments. It will also help accommodate The Risk Firm’s rapid expansion by providing 1,000 square feet of additional office space adjacent to its existing building, creating four new jobs.
 
The Catalytic Fund was awarded $42,476 for the expansion of Carabello Coffee in Newport. Justin and Emily Carabello will be purchasing and renovating the vacant 1,800-square-foot building next to their existing business on Monmouth Street. The project will help activate the entire corner and will allow Carabello to create three more permanent jobs.
 
HCDC's Economic Development department received $60,000 for its small business coaching and mentoring program, which this year will be in Mt. Healthy, Cheviot and Westwood. Since 2013, the program has helped small businesses in College Hill, East Walnut Hills, North College Hill, Northside, Pleasant Ridge and Price Hill.
 
Duke Energy awarded the Pleasant Ridge Development Corporation $50,000 to help restore a historic movie theater in the neighborhood. The 7,000-square-foot space on Montgomery Road has been targeted for redevelopment for years and will now become a boutique movie theater and community gathering place. PRDC will partner with an established business that has produced pop-up movie events over the past two years and is ready to expand into a permanent location. Renovation efforts will include removing the boarded-up facade and upgrading the HVAC and water systems.
 
Price Hill Will received $37,424 to restore a building at the heart of the Eighth Street corridor in Lower Price Hill. The Eighth and Depot Project will create a new retail space, six mixed-income live-work units and five new jobs. The building will serve as the anchor project for the corridor’s redevelopment efforts over the next 10-15 years.
 
The Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation was awarded a $56,000 grant for the redevelopment of the Century Theater and the Durner Building, which are both on the National Register of Historic Places. The buildings are at the center of Peeble’s Corner and have been vacant for years. Once finished, the project will create a co-working space and 33 permanent jobs.
 

New deli in Pleasant Ridge will bring the retro vibe, starting with Dec. 20 preview event


The concept of Grand Central Delicatessen started when Jeffrey Strong, who’s spent 14 years working in Cincinnati restaurants, and partner Sheelah Parker decided it was time to go into business for themselves. At first the idea was to offer sandwiches and cold cuts just like delis in New York City, but the concept has blossomed into a deli/bistro complete with a bar and dog-friendly outdoor patio.
 
“We really want Grand Central to be a destination (but) we knew we couldn’t set up in a strip mall,” Parker says. “We live in Milford and have been able to watch the resurrection of Pleasant Ridge. It’s cool to watch old buildings come to life with new businesses in them.”
 
Strong and Parker are working to open the deli in February. On the inside it will look like a bistro straight out of the 1920s or ’30s, with Art Deco touches throughout, including a phone booth and bar from the time period.
 
“We’re trying to make it an immersion destination location,” Parker says. “When they step inside, we want customers to feel like they’ve gone somewhere else.”
 
Grand Central will also have house accounts, which delis had back in the day. Customers will be able to open accounts and place delivery or catering orders for business meetings. Grand Central is using Equity Eats, a program that allows customers to open house accounts for any amount and add to it over the year. After a year, customers see a 10 percent return on the original amount.
 
“House accounts will allow us to keep track of customers’ most ordered items and will help us build a relationship with them,” Parker says.
 
Not only is Strong Grand Central’s CEO, but he’s also the head chef. The menu will feature about eight signature sandwiches made on Sixteen Brix bread, each customizable. The piled high sandwiches will feature a number of toppings, including homemade pesto mayo, cilantro lime mayo and guacamole.
 
Grand Central plans eventually to offer pasta dinners with Strong’s homemade marina sauce, as well as brunch.
 
Parker and Strong are hosting a preview event on Dec. 20 at the Overlook Lodge right next door. The event will feature a curated drink menu from Lodge owner Jacob Trevino and light bites from Grand Central’s menu. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. You can order tickets here.
 
“The tasting event will help introduce the neighborhood to our menu as well as give everyone a chance to meet new friends and neighbors,” Parker says.
 

Overlook Lodge to add to business rejuvenation in Pleasant Ridge


Jacob Trevino has years of experience at Molly Wellmann’s bars, as well as Bistro Grace in Northside and the new 16+Bit Bar and Arcade in Over-the-Rhine. He’s also one of the masterminds behind Gorilla Cinema, which brings one-night movie events to different parts of the city. Most recently, Trevino and his crew hosted a Willy Wonka event, complete with candy-inspired food and drink.
 
He’s still working on a permanent home for Gorilla Cinema, but he’s now also planning to open a bar concept, Overlook Lodge, in Pleasant Ridge. The neighborhood has seen an uptick in new businesses, including Nine Giant Brewing and Share: Cheesebar, and Trevino is adding to that rejuvenation.
 
Overlook Lodge is being designed after the mountain lodge featured in The Shining, with lots of wood accents and retro wallpaper as well as a large hearth area. Trevino plans to have live bluegrass and country music on the weekends, which will add to the bar’s intimate setting.
 
The menu will feature rustic craft cocktails with simple but bold flavors. The signature drink, The Hatchet, is made with tequila, ginger and lime and is rimmed in Spanish spices; another drink, The Writer’s Block, will be coffee-based.
 
There will also be a series of “twin” drinks that reference the split personality of Jack Nicholson’s character in The Shining.
 
Although Overlook Lodge won’t serve food, trail mixes and jerky will add a twist on your typical bar snacks.  
 
Trevino is aiming to open Overlook Lodge on Oct. 31. Keep tabs on the bar’s Facebook page for upcoming details.
 

Several local food truck owners taking next step and opening storefronts


Food trucks have become the meal-on-the-go option for Cincinnatians, whether it’s a business lunch or community event. After establishing themselves and their menu offerings, a number of those food truck owners are now expanding their businesses and opening brick-and-mortar locations.
 
Share Cheesebar
6105 Ridge Road, Pleasant Ridge
Emily Frank, owner of C’est Cheese food truck, is planning to open a cheese retail shop this fall in Pleasant Ridge’s Sixty99 development next to Nine Giant Brewing. The shop will be part retail and part cheese bar, with a large selection of products and a rotating variety of cheeses, wine, beer and fresh bread.
 
Frank started C’est Cheese in 2011, when there were about 10 food trucks on the streets of Cincinnati. Today there are about 60, and she decided to use her love of cheese to introduce another venture in the city.
 
“I’ve always been a huge lover of cheese but have always been a bit intimidated by most cheese shops,” she says. “There are so many choices, and sometimes it feels a bit overwhelming and I’m hesitant to ask questions in order to learn more.”
 
Share Cheesebar will have a relaxed atmosphere, where customers can come in and enjoy a cheese or charcuterie plate or a glass of wine. Cheese will also be available for purchase to take to a party or home for dinner.
 
“The name ‘Share’ is really what we want people to do in the space,” Frank says.
 
Even though Frank is starting another venture, she will continue serving up the cheesy goodness from Blanche, her food truck.

Urbana Café
1206 Broadway St., Pendleton/OTR
Daniel Noguera purchased a Vespa Ape in 2013 and converted it into a mobile espresso café that’s a Findlay Market staple on the weekends. Now Noguera plans to open a brick-and-mortar café in October next to Nation Kitchen + Bar in the Pendleton area next to Over-the-Rhine.
 
Urbana Café will serve high-quality espresso-based drinks as well as a limited food menu with both sweet and savory options.
 
Noguera plans to continue his mobile coffee business and currently has two Vespas roaming the streets of Cincinnati. He has plans to expand the mobile side of his business to a nearby city, such as Louisville or Columbus.
 
Che!
1342 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine
Chef Alfio Gulisano and his partner Scott Lambert, owners of Alfio’s Buon Cibo in Hyde Park, recently started a food truck called Che Empanadas. They’re expanding on that concept and planning to open a restaurant based on the Argentinean staple of pizza and empanadas.
 
Che!, which means Hey!, will open its doors in Over-the-Rhine in the fall. The restaurant will feature a large bar with Argentine wines by the glass and craft beer options as well as an outdoor dining area with a parrilla, a large outdoor grill that will feature a rotating variety of grilled meats.
 
The restaurant will also have an ordering window that opens onto the street, where customers can get empanadas and pizza during late-night hours.
 
Catch-A-Fire
5164 Kennedy Ave., Pleasant Ridge
The owners of Catch-A-Fire Pizza opened a café inside of MadTree Brewing in February. It’s an extension of the food truck, and the menu features items infused with MadTree beer.
 
Dojo Gelato
1735 Blue Rock St., Northside
Dojo Gelato has been a staple at Findlay Market for six years, and next spring owner Michael Christner plans to open a stand-alone location in the old J.F. Dairy Corner in Northside.
 
Christner will continue to serve his gelato, which has become a Cincinnati favorite, but will also expand Dojo’s menu with twists on traditional ice cream favorites. That menu will eventually be served at the Findlay Market location as well, as all of Dojo’s production will be moved to the new Northside location.
 
O Pie O
1527 Madison Road, East Walnut Hills
While not a food truck, O Pie O will be expanding beyond its Findlay Market pop-up roots with a brick-and-mortar store opening soon at DeSales Corner. The store is currently hiring workers.
 
The pie shop will feature both sweet and savory options as well as a small menu of soups and salads. Wine, craft beer, coffee and ice cream will also be served as accompaniments.
 

Cincinnati Development Fund adds nonprofit loan program to redevelopment efforts


The Cincinnati Development Fund (CDF) recently unveiled its nonprofit facilities and equipment loan program designed to help nonprofits obtain affordable long-term loans in order to renovate, maintain and improve existing facilities. The program is made possible through a partnership with IFF and a $1.4 million grant from the JP Morgan Chase Foundation.
 
“The program enables nonprofits to continue to invest in their core missions while also meeting critical facilities and equipment needs,” says Debbie Koo, loan officer for CDF.
 
Loan amounts in the nonprofit loan program can range from $50,000 to more than $1.5 million, providing flexible capital for nonprofits that might not be able to get financing through traditional lenders. An appraisal isn’t required, and CDF can advance up to 95 percent of the project cost.
 
Nonprofits can use the loans for capital projects (acquisition, construction, renovation, leasehold improvements or refinancing); maintenance and improvements (roof repair, new windows, ADA code repairs or HVAC); and capitalized equipment purchases (computer hardware/software, furnishings, medical equipment or service-oriented vehicles).
 
To date, CDF has made loans to Findlay Market for its new incubator kitchen and to Kennedy Heights Art Center. With interest growing in the new program, several other projects are currently in the works.
 
“CDF is focused on revitalizing neighborhoods, which includes providing support for the people who live and work in those communities,” Koo says. “With this program, we are able to expand our reach beyond residential and mixed-use developments to include nonprofit facilities and equipment.

“If we can help improve a nonprofit’s cash flow by providing low-interest, long-term financing, that leaves them more money to invest in their missions. If more nonprofits own their own real estate, they can build equity and strengthen their balance sheets.”
 

Formerly blighted corner is harbinger of Pleasant Ridge redevelopment


Pleasant Ridge’s signature property at the corner of Montgomery and Ridge roads is in the midst of a $2 million redevelopment. Once finished, 6099 Montgomery Road, or Sixty99, will be home to Cincinnati’s newest brewery and other businesses that add to the neighborhood’s entertainment district.
 
The two-story building dates back the 1800s, when it was a stagecoach hotel. In the late 2000s, it fell into foreclosure and sat vacant for several years. The Pleasant Ridge Development Corporation (PRDC) began to look for opportunities to redevelop and formed a partnership with Gene Levental of Cincinnati Premier Realty.
 
In 2011, PRDC won a $200,000 Neighborhood Business District Improvement Project grant from the city and used the money to purchase the building. Phase I of redevelopment included shell stabilization of the building and preparing it for future tenants.
 
“Since securing our entertainment district license, it’s always been a vision of PRDC to supplement the existing business mix with more destination businesses,” says Jason Chamlee, president of PRDC.
 
In addition to Nine Giant Brewing, two existing tenants will remain in the building: a salon above the brewery and an insurance company. There are currently three spaces awaiting tenants, which Chamlee says he hopes will be food- and beverage-based businesses.
 
“The new model of using these types of businesses as anchors can be replicated,” he says. “It used to be the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker, but food and beverage businesses are the ones that will drive traffic.”
 
The three remaining storefronts vary in size, and two of the three have a shared wall that could be removed to create a larger space.
 
PRDC wants to show Cincinnati that there are great opportunities for investment and development within Pleasant Ridge and help raise the profile of the business district.
 
“We’re hoping to increase Pleasant Ridge’s customer base with this development,” Chamlee says. “We’re a very strong community, but we’re small. We’re targeting our larger nearby neighborhoods and beginning to draw people in from outside. With that, we’re working to bring attention to Pleasant Ridge. We’re trying to raise the district’s profile and the awareness of the area in the city.”
 

Nine Giant to expand local craft beer growth into Pleasant Ridge


Nine Giant Brewing will open its doors this summer in Pleasant Ridge’s newest development, Sixty99, at the prominent corner of Montgomery and Ridge roads. The brewery is the brainchild of brothers-in-law Michael Albarella, a self-proclaimed beer nerd, and Brandon Hughes, who has a business background.
 
While on a yearly family trip to North Carolina, Albarella and Hughes hatched a plan to start a brewery. This was before MadTree and Rhinegeist, and the two felt that Cincinnati was ripe for a craft beer revolution.
 
“We were definitely onto something,” Hughes says.

He quit his job last April, and he and his wife moved back to Cincinnati to start making Nine Giant a reality.
 
When Nine Giant opens its 3,400-square-ft. facility, it won’t be launching flagship beers. Instead, each of its eight taps will be dedicated to a certain category of beer — there will always be a tap dedicated to pale ale, but it could be a German pale, an American pal, a Belgian pale or something more exotic like a chile-spiked pale ale, Hughes says.
 
“We’ll revisit beers over time, but we want to have room to experiment and to have fun and offer customers a great experience every time,” he says.
 
Albarella and Hughes will also be creating beers with lower alcohol contents, although that doesn’t mean all of the beers will be "session-style," or beers lower in alcohol so you can drink more in one session. There will be high-gravity styles alongside more session style beers, and there might be an imperial IPA with a 7.5-8 percent ABV, which isn’t a session beer but is lower than most double IPAs on the market.
 
“As a taproom-only brewery, we want people to be able to try a number of our beers at one time,” Hughes says.
 
Nine Giant is also a snackery and will offer a menu of 8-10 small plates that pair well with its beers. The final launch menu isn’t set in stone yet, but Hughes says there will definitely be a charcuterie plate and riffs on traditional American bar foot, including pomme frites and deep-fried housemade pickles. Sliders might make the menu, and there will be heavy Mexican and Central American influences.
 
“We’ve always envisioned ourselves being part of a neighborhood, a community,” Hughes says. “Pleasant Ridge was perfect. The local residents really rally behind local businesses, and the support and well wishes we’ve received since announcing the brewery have been amazing. The area has a ton going for it, with affordable housing, a new elementary school and great accessibility. We’re really excited to be part of the larger economic revitalization of this proud neighborhood.”
 

New movie theater concept to offer classics and cocktails

Jacob Trevino’s heart is in craft cocktails—he works at Japp’s—but his other passion is movies. About six months ago, he started trying to find a way to combine his passions.
 
Trevino has been to movie theaters that serve beer, but he wants to improve upon that idea. His venture, Gorilla Cinema, will feature food and beverages that tie in with the movies being shown.
 
“Gorilla Cinema will be a truly immersive experience that celebrates the films that I love,” he says.

Trevino plans to show mostly classic movies that everyone has seen at least once. And Gorilla Cinema’s menu, which was designed by Chef Martha Tiffany of The Precinct, will feature upscale pub food that will change for special events. It will also reflect what movie is being shown.
 
“There’s something about watching a movie in a theater that you can’t get when you watch it at home,” Trevino says. “There’s something magical about going to the theater and seeing your favorite movie on the big screen. It invokes a kind of nostalgia that our generation really didn’t get to experience.”
 
Trevino is currently looking for a space in Bellevue or Pleasant Ridge to renovate and is seeking investors, but until then, he’s hosting popup events around the city to help build the company. The ideal permanent location for Gorilla Cinema will be in an old movie theater, with seats for 124 people, with space for a front bar and lounge area.
 
“Gorilla Cinema will celebrate the memories that movies bring back, and help recapture some of those memories,” Trevino says. “People talk about having their first kiss in the movie theater. I remember seeing Jaws for the first time. Movies are a weird art form that people remember when they saw something—they’re engrained in our culture.”
 
If you’re interested in a popup movie, Gorilla Cinema is hosting a horror movie double feature, with the original Dracula and House on Haunted Hill with Vincent Price, on Oct. 26 in a parking lot at the corner of Montgomery Road and Ridge Avenue in Pleasant Ridge. Keep tabs on its Facebook page for event information.
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