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Second location will allow Taft's Brewing Co. to ramp up production, introduce New Haven-style pizza


As part of a multimillion dollar expansion, Taft's Brewing Co. is opening a second location to function as a taproom, beer garden, brewhouse and distribution facility to keep up with demand.

The 50,000-square-foot space on Spring Grove Avenue, formerly occupied by a P&G testing lab, was purchased for $1.7 million in July 2016. Because it was previously occupied by a large company, the facility was almost move-in ready — this was necessary because the brewing setup at Taft's Ale House couldn’t handle the production increase.

The “Brewporium” will focus more on special releases and New Haven-style pizza, which is a crispier version of Neopolitan-style pizza that gets a little charred over coals before serving. Taft's plans on importing flour from Italy, making the dough the main focus.

According to managing partners of the brewery, a number of seasonal pizzas will be available daily with beer-infused crust. The menu will include six specialty pizzas, sandwiches and more. They also plan to offer special beers not available at Taft’s Ale House.

The plan for the kitchen and taproom is quick but with top-notch customer service, with orders placed at a counter and a picnic-like area for dining. Hanging string lights and glass garage doors will highlight the facility and allow for open air when the weather is nice.

The space will also feature a gaming area with custom-made tabletop shuffleboards and darts. Customers will be able to enjoy live music on occasion as well. Plans for an outdoor patio have begun, with hopes to open that portion of the space by spring 2018.

Current capacity is 15,000 barrels, but the brewery could expand to accommodate as many as 100,000 barrels. With the expansion to this location, Taft’s Ale House will be primarily used for experimental and test brews, with the new production facility handling the bulk of the traditional beer production.

While the brewery has been up and running since April, the 5,000-square-foot taproom and kitchen will open to the public later this summer. The taproom/kitchen will be open Wednesday-Sunday with a focus on dinner service, but lunch will be offered on certain days. Hours are still being determined at this time.

For more information on the new brewhouse and when regular hours will go into effect, visit Taft’s Facebook page.
 


All about the beer: Three more breweries coming online later this year

 

In the second half of our exploration into new breweries, we looked at those that are opening in late summer or early fall of this year.

You might have to wait a bit longer to taste these brews, but rest assured that the experience, flavors and distinctive interiors will be worth it.

 

Rebel Mettle, 244 W. McMicken Ave., Over-the-Rhine

Opening: Spring/summer, 2018
 

“The people of Cincinnati are beer drinkers; we are a melting pot that just likes to drink,” says Mike Brown, CEO and president of Rebel Mettle Brewery.

 

The idea for the brewery started with Brown and his friends Ryan Renner, Greg Goeke and Duane Donohoo sitting around a kitchen table.

“We wanted someplace that had character,” Brown says. “I was adamant that we open up in OTR for the heritage. It has the largest number of pre-Prohibition era breweries in the nation.”

 

Rebel Mettle will offer a selection of ales, lagers and sours; there are plans for ciders as well. Brown says that they hired a secret weapon — a mysterious master brewer he wouldn’t name. He says that combining the master brewer’s education and experience with his team’s home-brewing skills will set Rebel Mettle's beer apart.

 

Also known as the former Clyffside and Sohn Brewery, the 40,000-square-foot space will host the brewery, a tap room and the Clyffside Event Center.

 

 

Humble Monk, 1641 Blue Rock St., Northside

Opening: Late summer, 2017
 

Mike Kemp and his son Paul are the head brew master and CEO, respectively, for Humble Monk Brewing Company. As the name suggests, Humble Monk will utilize a process similar to the famous Trappist Monk style of brewing.

 

“My dad prides himself on full-bodied, in-your-face style beers,” Paul says.

 

Trappist style means that each brew can yield three different types of beer, known as partigyle. The partigyle used in this method of brewing guarantees that there will be a variety of flavors and gravities, or alcohol levels, in each beer.

 

The brewery and taproom will be in a warehouse space a block and a half from Northside’s main thoroughfare. The Kemps describe the space as “barren but cozy” with an industrial feel.

 

Sonder, Duke Boulevard, Mason

Opening: Late fall, 2017
 

Justin Neff, president of Sonder, started out brewing beer at home but had dreams of his owning a brewery. When he met his business partners Daniel Schmerr and Jennifer Meissner, those dreams came true.

 

Neff fell in love with the meaning behind the word sonder, which is defined as the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.

“It became so much more than just a word — it’s a culture we started our company on. We believe every beer has a story just like every person does.”

 

With the help of New Glarus Brewing's Chase Legler, Sonder will focus on high quality and true-to-style beer.

 

“We’ll ensure that a German hefeweizen tastes like the same hefeweizen that was brewed in Germany generations ago,” Neff says.

 

Sonder is building its own two-story facility in Deerfield Township. The 6.5-acre property will include bars and outdoor patios on both floors. Neff says that they hope to grow their own hops on-site and the green space will be a gathering place for community events.

 

Neff says Sonder will be a place “where Mom and Dad can bring their kids and have a date night as well.”

The ambitious campus will include sand volleyball, a wiffle ball field, fire pits and a walking path where visitors can sip a beer as they go for a stroll.
 


Collective Espresso goes mobile to reach more Cincy coffee drinkers


Dave Hart is co-owner of Collective Espresso, a business that is synonymous with quality coffee in Cincinnati. It currently operates out of brick-and-mortar coffee shops in Northside and Over-the-Rhine, and just recently, a mobile coffee truck was added to the blend.

This development, called Collective Field Services, began around the same time Hart and his business partner Dustin Miller lost their lease at the Contemporary Arts Center. That was their third coffee shop; it was replaced with a second Bottle & Basket, a deli owned by the ever-expanding Wellmann’s Brands.

The coffee truck, a 1982 Chevy G30, made its first venture into the city at the first spring City Flea, and later that day, at the Pollination Festival in Northside. Hart spoke with Soapbox about what led to the acquisition of the truck and what it means for Collective Espresso’s presence in Cincinnati.

So what's the story behind the truck?
The truck also comes from Berlin, Ohio. It’s kind of an interesting story, how this all came about. It started in a very organic way. We had a meeting with the guys from Such and Such to fabricate a bike for us, and we’re building this bike — it’s a pedicab that’s going to haul kegs of cold brew — and it’ll just do weekend events. It’s not like a staple of the business or anything like that, it’ll just be for special events.

When we first started talking about this, we thought this could be the launch for a whole mobile food and coffee operation. At the time, this truck had been in the fold. Dustin’s brother had two delis up in the Berlin area and he does a hot dog cart during special events. He bought the truck to sell hot dogs, but he’s got a million things going on. Right around the time of our talks with Such and Such, we found an espresso machine, a Synesso, for a really reasonable price outside Philadelphia. It’s similar to what we have at Collective Espresso Northside but  smaller — it’s a two-group Synesso. We found a heck of a deal on it and we kind of just bought it with no real intentions. We knew at some point we would need it. It could have been a backup.

At this point, we have no CAC location and we have an espresso machine. We needed to do something. It was a week later when Dustin’s brother, Ryan, called and said he was selling the truck and asked if we wanted it. It all happened in the span of two or three weeks and it made perfect sense to us as a logical progression. We have a killer staff from CAC and we figured we could absorb them into something new that we do, so all signs pointed toward it as a no-brainer.

The truck is named after a bus that hauls Amish people from where Dustin and I are from, and it’s called Pioneer Trails. It takes Amish people from Berlin to Florida. A lot of Amish people go to Sarasota in the winter. We want to get “Pioneer Trails” painted on the front of the truck.

When did you buy the truck?
We bought the truck in November. It sat at my parents’ house for a while and we’d go up on weekends to work on it. We gutted the whole thing. It used to be a book mobile — growing up in the country, if your town doesn’t have a library, the book mobile will come to your school and once every two weeks, you’d get a break from class to go look at what’s in the book mobile. The truck had been decommissioned years ago and then it was owned by a television station.

What can customers buy from the truck?
It’s a basic coffee shop menu. We’re looking to do something with a keg for cold brew, but it’ll be just like any of our coffee shops. We’ll have light baked goods. Lots of food trucks have miniature espresso machines, but we have a full-sized espresso machine, so we’ll be able to work at the exact same pace as we do in any of our shops.

Are there any long-term plans where the truck can be found?
We’re going to start doing things to see what ultimately ends up being successful. The idea is twofold: to service the food truck areas — we have a customer base downtown from our CAC location, so it makes sense to stick near Fountain Square’s food truck space. Weekdays we’ll be there and also at Washington Park on nice days.

Weekends, it’s not just a mobile vending thing, it’s an opportunity for us to get in front of people we’re not normally in front of. If there’s a neighborhood that might warrant opening a Collective Espresso in it, this is a great way to go there, meet people and test market the business. We’d like to be in various different neighborhoods on the weekends: Walnut Hills, College Hill, maybe somewhere on the West Side. New people. Special events are also a given. We’ll see as it goes along.

Going mobile, what’s the truck’s maximum radius going to be?
If there was a big event, we could take it far out of town, but it’s an ’82 — an older piece of equipment. I don’t think it’s going to be taking trips to Louisville every weekend. We kind of exist in these little bubbles where everybody knows what Collective Espresso is, but then I go to some big event in town and realize there are all of these people out there who still have no idea. There are even people in OTR who ask when we opened and it’s weird to tell them almost five years ago. I think that the truck gets rid of that limiting factor of having to be in these little, obscure up-and-coming neighborhood situations. There’s nothing wrong with a bunch of people knowing what we do.

To keep up with the coffee truck, follow @collective_field_services on Instagram.
 


Bistro Grace owner opens second concept in Northside's CBD


The Hamilton, a new wine bar on Hamilton Avenue in Northside, opened in early February across the street from its sister restaurant, Bistro Grace. Owner Suzanne McGarry had purchased three buildings across from the Bistro several years ago, and along with the Bistro's chef, David Bever, she decided to utilize one of the storefronts for a new concept.

It's a comfy space designed for sipping wine, sharing small dishes and socializing at the bar or in an overstuffed leather chair.

But The Hamilton is more than just a bar. Patrons can stop by to purchase a bottle of wine or craft beer to take home, or stick around and order some food. There's a $10 corkage fee if you stay and open the bottle, but the wine is priced to encourage just that.

The bar also offers a unique assortment of "crafty cocktails." The Kirby, for example, consists of Sauza, fresh lime and simple syrup, topped with Malbec. Or try the Blackberry Kentucky Mule, made with Jim Beam, muddled blackberries, sage simple syrup, fresh lime and ginger beer.

"People can start their night at The Hamilton and have appetizers and sharable plates, and then head over to Bistro Grace for dinner," says Lauren Bradford, dining room manager at the Bistro. "Or they can go to the Bistro first and then find they're not ready to go home, so they head over to The Hamilton."

The space at 4029 Hamilton Ave. was previously occupied by Tacocracy, which was artsy and had an airport theme. McGarry changed the decor to a comfortable industrial/modern feel with exposed ductwork and unfinished walls that reveal the brick underneath.

"It makes you feel at home," Bradford says. The small space only holds about 45 people, adding to the intimate atmosphere.

Chef Bever says that The Hamilton's food is meant to be flavorful and light, and that it's meant to complement the Bistro's menu. The small menu includes calamari and potatoes, tofu salad, salmon two ways, a trio of eggplant and a modern fondue. Prices range from $9-15.

The wine selection will eventually have over 50 wines, along with a mix of craft beers.

The Hamilton is open 4-11 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.
 

Nepalese cuisine now on Northside's menu


Connecting Bridges, a Nepalese restaurant operated by Ashak Chipalu and his mother Rose, is nearly set to open its doors in Northside. It will take over the location formerly occupied by Melt. (Melt is reopening in a new whitebox space in The Gantry, and is expected to open this spring.)
 
“We are very close to opening,” Ashak says, as he and his mother hand out samples at his family’s food stand at Findlay Market. “We have done all of the interiors already. Our last health permit and our building permits are left, but other than that, everything is ready in the space.”

Bridges started out at Findlay Market, and the family continues to operate a food stand there. The Chipalus are no strangers to Northside: last year, they occasionally set up a food stand inside Urban Artifact to sell food to hungry patrons.  
 
At a glance, Nepalese food is a balancing act between familiar Chinese takeout and Indian curries, but once sampled, the flavors of Nepal impart a spicy South Asian smokiness that levitates healthy, brilliantly simple ingredients.
 
“Our country is a mountainous country, so the different belts have different vegetation in the same way we have different tribes and different languages,” Rose says. “There are something like 100 spoken languages. Different belt, different tradition, different language, different culture.”
 
The Chipalus are of the Newari tribe, found in the valley of Kathmandu. The food offered at Bridges characterizes some of the unique aspects of their tribe’s culinary heritage.
 
“For side dishes, we have an authentic Newari tribe potato salad we call aloo walla,” Ashak says. “It’s very simple, very popular, we have spicy and mild. Very healthy for you.”
 
While retaining Newari tradtions, Bridges also offers items like a bacon, potato and cheese samosa —  a dish made to cater to old school Cincinnati diners. There will also be potato and cheese or a chicken tikka masala and rice samosa; there will also be vegan options like potato with peas and carrots.
 
“We always come to Findlay Market and Northside Farmers Market to shop, and these markets are very similar to the markets in Nepal, where people just walk in to buy their vegetables in an open bazaar,” Ashak explains. “The Melt space was open, I knew about that, and the landlord came into the market and he really liked what we were doing, so he offered the space. He has been really good to us. It’s been a good partnership and will be good for the years to come. We love Northside because our food really fits in with the neighborhood. The vibe is really chilled, the streets look just like some streets in Nepal and that really attracted us.”
 
Bridges, which will open in the next few weeks, will be BYOB until further notice. Keep tabs on Bridges' Facebook page for opening day details.
 

Three Cincinnati development organizations receive New Market Tax Credits


This year, a total of $7 billion in New Market Tax Credits were awarded to 120 organizations around the country from the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, which is made possible by the U.S. Treasury Department. Three Cincinnati development organizations received $125 million of that money.
 
The Cincinnati Development Fund received $65 million in NMTC. The organization plans to utilize the money to help kickstart development efforts in College Hill, Madisonville, Northside and Walnut Hills, all of which have business districts that are undergoing rejuvenations.
 
This is the largest award CDF has received through the NMTC program.
 
The Kroger Community Development Entity LLC received $15 million through the program, and Uptown Consortium received $45 million.
 
Since its inception in 2000, a total of $50.5 billion has been doled out to community development organizations. For every dollar invested by the federal government, it has helped leverage about $8 billion in private investment.
 
The NMTC program allows investors to reduce tax liability by purchasing federal tax credits from community development groups, which then use the funds to help close financing gaps. Overall, the goal of the program is to further redevelopment in blighted neighborhoods.
 
 

People's Liberty funds Space Walk backyard solar system


Josiah Wolf is an unlikely astronomer. A musician who has spent most of his adult life touring, Wolf began to develop an obsession with learning about the solar system.

“I just had the urge to see the scale of the sun and Earth myself,” Wolf explained. A few years ago, he decided to fashion a scale diorama of the solar system from old fence posts and blacklight paint in his backyard. He taught himself interesting facts about space and began offering nighttime tours to friends and family.

Wolf’s friend, Ben Sloan, a People’s Liberty grantee, suggested he apply for a $10,000 grant from the organization to make his backyard model into a permanent installation. With the help of his wife Liz and their project partner, Matt Kotlarcyzk, Wolf applied for a grant and his backyard project became SPACEWALK.

After receiving funding, the trio began the 10-month design process to make SPACEWALK a reality. The design went through many stages but ultimately had to conform to certain restrictions. Wolf knew that he wanted the models to light up at night, which meant they needed to utilize solar panels so that the models could be freestanding and sustainable.

Solar panels must be placed at least 12 feet in the air in order to gather sufficient power, so the design had to incorporate poles to which the panels could be mounted.

After months of trial and error, Wolf settled on a shadowbox design for the models. The small plastic planets sit inside of a case with a hidden, recessed blacklight. The planets were painted by artist Steve Casino, who is known for his miniature paintings on peanuts. The models are a 3.5-billion-to-1 in scale.

Once the design process was completed, the team needed to determine where SPACEWALK would be installed.

“It was hard to find the perfect location,” Wolf said. Because the project is meant to be viewed at night, it was important to find a location with low lighting. It also needed to be a public place with foot traffic to ensure SPACEWALK would be enjoyed by as many passing science-lovers as possible.

After considering a variety of options, Wolf selected Salway Park, which runs along Mill Creek across from Spring Grove Cemetery. The installation spans three-quarters of a mile along the path.

The project has been up for two months and will continue to be freely available for viewing for the indefinite future. Wolf also offers private tours for those interested. To arrange a tour, e-mail SPACEWALK; to stay up-to-date on all things SPACEWALK, visit its website, Twitter or Instagram.

SPACEWALK is currently accepting donations to support the ongoing maintenance of the installation.

Twice per year, eight grantees are chosen per grant cycle to prototype solutions to civic challenges. Project grantees are supported with $10,000, a launch event and access to People’s Liberty’s workplace and mentorship. Stay tuned to Soapbox for profiles of this year's 15 other grantees.
 

PAR Projects opens new space to art installations


Since its inception in 2010, PAR Projects has had many different homes in Northside, but never one that the organization has owned outright, until now. PAR’s new space, which is located in an old lumberyard at 1662 Hoffner St., will undergo a complete transformation within the next year.

The organization's goal is to create a space for exhibits, arts education and an outdoor movie theater, all made entirely from shipping containers.

Lisa Walcott’s “Swarms” is the first installation in PAR’s 1,100-square-foot gallery, called The Nook. Her whole exhibit, Making Space, is on display at PAR through Nov. 27.
 
PAR purchased the two-story, 6,000-square-foot building and surrounding lot in 2014. They originally planned to demolish the building and start from scratch, but after discovering that the roof wasn’t as bad as originally thought, they decided to keep the building and renovate it.
 
A few years ago, PAR started a traveling art gallery — Makers Mobile — in a shipping container. The container is currently sitting at the Hoffner site, and houses another part of Walcott’s exhibit. It will become the first piece of a new building that will be built entirely from shipping containers.
 
Another two shipping containers will be stacked to create the outdoor theater screen, by next spring, PAR hopes to start showing movies. The group wants to add two more containers to create classrooms for the media arts.  
 

People's Liberty project grantee, Rachelle Caplan


Local musician Rachelle Caplan recently received a $10,000 People’s Liberty grant to turn a vintage van into a mobile music discovery studio, or Caravan. The Ford utility van was gutted, painted with a vibrant mural by artist Jen Warren and rebuilt with comfortable couches, tapestries and an assortment of unusual instruments for any visitor to pick up and play.

The idea for Caravan came out of Caplan’s experiences as an organizer for Ladyfest Cincinnati, a local music, art and activism festival based in Northside. As part of the event, organizers put together an interactive pop-up music lab for children.

This session was the first opportunity many of the children had to play an instrument. Through this, Caplan learned that lack of access to musical instruments was a huge barrier to entering the creative community.

“Caravan was just like writing a fantasy grant," Caplan says. "I thought if I could do anything, I’d buy new instruments that no one has seen before, pack them in a van and have everyone learn with me. And now that’s what’s happening.”

The instruments in Caravan originate from all over the world. Some are electronic like the theremin or the Korg Kaossilator, a digital pad that was popularized by '90s rave music. Others are acoustic, such as a copper Hapi drum that Caplan says makes a sound like a steel drum mixed with a Tibetan singing bowl.

Many of the instruments are rare or exotic, such as an African Kalimba thumb piano with an amp pickup, or an electronic Indian drum machine from 1972. Caplan has amassed a collection of 13 instruments, but only a few of them are available at each public appearance of Caravan.

Caplan aims to make music accessible to everyone through Caravan. “If you’re old enough to hold something to make sound, that’s awesome. I had a 3-year-old be completely fascinated by the guiro, a giant frog you run a stick over. He was jamming so hard that his parents joined him. I am trying to target something across age. I had my 77-year-old grandmother at a session, and she loved it.”

Caravan isn’t just an opportunity to make music in the moment. Each session will also be recorded and will go on the Caravan website to stream for free. These recordings will be minimally edited, serving more as field recordings than complete songs.

Caplan has ideas to take the recordings made at these sessions and turn them into additional works of art.

“I got really floored by the idea of taking some of those soundscapes and giving those pieces to visual artists,” she says. “The recording could be the prompt for another piece, a platform to create from.”

Caplan also plans to share the recordings with musicians, who will help build the original recordings into finished works of music.

Caravan’s official debut is Friday at this year’s Ladyfest. From 7 to 8:30 p.m., Caravan will be parked in the lot across from Northside Tavern on Hamilton Avenue, and will be open for any curious passerby to come in and pick up an instrument.

Caplan aims for Caravan to be approachable for people who don’t have musical experience, but she also invites musicians to jam and help facilitate sound exploration at each session.

“Typically I have two or three musicians sit in,” she says. “I really want to have the spontaneous feel of organic creation as it manifests.”

Her “partner-in-crime” Daisy Caplan, of the local bands Lung and formerly Foxy Shazam, is at each session. Local musician and artist Warren, who painted the outside of Caravan, will also be there for the launch.

Caravan will be visiting festivals, craft fairs and other local events all over Cincinnati through spring 2017. To stay up-to-date on upcoming appearances and dates, visit Caravan's website or follow them on Facebook.

People interested in bringing Caravan to an event are encouraged to reach out to Rachelle Caplan directly.

Twice per year, eight grantees are chosen per grant cycle to prototype solutions to civic challenges. Project grantees are supported with $10,000, a launch event and access to People’s Liberty’s workplace and mentorship. Stay tuned to Soapbox for profiles of this year's 15 other grantees.
 

NEST bringing tiny house movement to Northside


Northsiders Engaged in Sustainable Transformation has been renovating and building houses for years. On Sept. 25 — the same day as the Northside House Tour — the organization is hosting a kick-off party for its Kinda Tiny Houses development project.
 
Unlike the tiny house trend that’s sweeping the nation and setting up camp in Over-the-Rhine, Kinda Tiny Houses will be a bit larger, anywhere from 600-1,000 square feet. And NEST is focusing on abandoned houses that already exist in Northside, and renovating those properties to reflect the concept.
 
“When it comes to these rehabs, we’re taking advantage of an existing resource and creating a greater resource for the community,” says Stefanie Sunderland, founder of NEST.
 
NEST plans to renovate eight houses and build one new house into Kinda Tiny Houses, but there are potential plans for two more new builds. Four houses are already underway at 4222, 4238 and 4240 Fergus St., and the new build at 4205 Mad Anthony, which is on the corner of Chase and Fergus streets. The other five properties are scattered throughout Northside.
 
“These houses will all have smaller carbon footprints, and will tie into the existing infrastructure in the neighborhood,” Sunderland says. “I feel it’s also an environmental and sustainable design.”
 
All of the Kinda Tiny Houses will be visitable, or accessible for everyone. The majority of the houses are single-story, but a few of the larger homes are two-story. NEST wants to make all of the living quarters on the first floors of the homes because much of Northside’s housing stock predates indoor plumbing. When plumbing was added, only half-bathrooms were added on the first floor and you have to go up a flight of stairs to reach the full bathroom.


 
Architect Alice Emmons designed the Kinda Tiny Houses to help people age in place, as well as for Baby Boomers who are looking to downsize and Millenials who want to move into a less expensive, functional home. All of the houses are homeownership units as opposed to rental properties, and will be more affordable options when they hit the market in the next 6-9 months.
 
The project is made possible through a grant from BB&T Bank that helped NEST develop the prototype. The City of Cincinnati is providing NOFA gap funding, and Northside Bank & Trust financed a construction allowance.
 
The Kinda Tiny Houses Initiative with Kinda Tiny Bites party will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. on Sept. 25 at Urban Artifact. Attendees are encouraged to go on the Northside House Tour and then swing by for light bites, music and beer. The party will include a chance to view designs of the Kinda Tiny Houses, as well as the undergoing rehabilitation on Fergus Street. The party is free, but a suggested donation of $10 is welcome.
 

Northside House Tour celebrates neighborhood architecture


The Northside House Tour has been held 16 times since 1990. This year’s event, which will be held from noon to 5 p.m. on Sept. 25, will feature 12 homes from a variety of historic periods.
 
“Back when the tour started, the neighborhood was in much different shape, and it was a way to let people know that Northside was a good place to live,” says Ryan Mooney-Bullock, publicity coordinator for the tour. “Now people know that, but they might not get to see how people are really living in the neighborhoods.”
 
The self-guided tour allows the public an up-close-and-personal look at how residents have renovated, rehabilitated and decorated the neighborhood’s stock of historic homes.
 
This year, two modern houses — which are both LEED certified — will be featured, as well as Victorian, Tudor and Colonial Revival houses.
 
“The tour does a great job of showcasing the architectural history of the neighborhood and how it’s grown over the years,” Mooney-Bullock says.
 
The exact houses that are on the tour won’t be released until the day-of as a way to keep the event a surprise. But the houses are spread out within a two-block radius of Hamilton Avenue, spanning from the southern end of the business district and up the hill.
 
In tandem with the event, many realtors also host open houses. None of the houses on the tour are for sale, but there have been instances of people who moved to Northside after falling in love with a particular street or house they saw while on the tour.
 
Tickets are $15 in advance and will be for sale online Sept. 12-24 as well as at all Northside Bank locations, Shake It Records, Taylor Jameson Salon and Building Value. You can also purchase your tickets day-of for $18 at McKie Recreation Center, which is where the tours begin.
 
You will receive a passport booklet at McKie, which includes a map of all of the homes on the tour, as well as a description and photo of each house. There are also QR codes that you can scan in the booklets for more information.
 
The route is walkable, but you can also drive from house to house.
 

Breweries and game libraries encourage Cincinnati to get its game on


Traditionally, arcades are one of the only places where adults can go and play games from their childhood. But that's not the case anymore in Cincinnati. Local breweries have started adding giant Jenga and ping pong tables to their taprooms, and within the past year two establishments have opened with board games on their menu.

From vintage arcade games to sand volleyball, Soapbox has rounded up a few of our favorite places where adults can feel like a kid again.

Columbia-Tusculum
50 West Brewing Company, 7668 Wooster Pike
In May 2016, 50 West expanded into their Production Works, a second location that's just across the street from its original brewpub. The $1.5 million expansion not only allowed the brewery to boost production, but also gave them the chance to become a destination for athletic beer-lovers. Sand volleyball leagues play at 50 West Monday-Thursday, and a sand soccer league meets Monday-Wednesday. Situated on the Little Miami, 50 West hosted a sold-out Canoe and Brew adventure on August 21, with more canoe events in the works. The brewery also owns and operates Fifty West Cycling Company, renting and selling bikes with easy access access to the adjacent Little Miami Scenic Trail.
Hours: 4-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday; 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday

Northside
Arcade Legacy: Bar Edition, 3929 Spring Grove Ave.
For a laid-back barcade experience, check out Arcade Legacy: Bar Edition. It has more than 50 arcade games and pinball machines, as well as a classic console lounge. The lounge features comfortable couches to settle in and explore any title on your favorite old-school TV console (Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis). There's also a full menu of decked-out hot dogs, nachos, snacks and desserts, as well as a full bar with craft beer, cocktails and specialty sodas. Arcade Legacy hosts tournament nights, and trivia at 8 p.m. every Tuesday. Admission is free.
Hours: 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Monday-Saturday; 4 p.m.-midnight Sunday

Over-the-Rhine
16-Bit Bar+Arcade, 1331 Walnut St.
Boasting a collection of 50-plus vintage arcade games, 16-Bit also features a full-bar with cocktails with throwback names like the Bill Nye (Rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, bitters and a cherry, served in a beaker); the Lisa Bonet (Sailor Jerry rum and St. Germain with simple syrup, lime and ginger ale); or the David Hasselhoff (Bulleit Rye, Sweet Vermouth, Aperol and orange peel). Unlike the typical arcade, 16-Bit is geared exclusively towards an adult crowd (though “High-Score Sunday” gives patrons a chance to bring their kids from 12 to 5 p.m.). Admission to 16-Bit is free.
Hours: 4 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Monday-Friday; noon-2:30 a.m. Saturday-Sunday

Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. taproom, 1621 Moore St.
Old-school German brewery Christian Moerlein has a taproom serving up craft beers and traditional German food — sausages, soft pretzels, and meat and cheese boards. The taproom also features a pool table, giant Jenga, cornhole and dart boards, and is the convening place for the weekly Cincinnati Beer and Board Games group. It's free to join and is an open invitation, with players meeting at 7 p.m. every Wednesday.
Hours: 4-10 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday; 4 p.m.-midnight Friday; noon-midnight Saturday; noon-7 p.m. Sunday

The Play Library, 1805 Elm St.
Funded through a $15,000 Globe Grant by local philanthropic lab People’s Liberty, The Play Library is a unique pop-up toy and game library for all ages. The Play Library opened in the Globe Gallery across from Findlay Market on June 24, and will occupy the space for five weeks. Proceeds from game library memberships will support efforts to make The Play Library a permanent fixture in Cincinnati. For info on upcoming events, visit their website.
Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday

Rhinegeist, 1910 Elm St.
Enjoy a cold beer and a rousing game of ping pong or cornhole in Rhinegeist’s 25,000-square-foot taproom. Serious table tennis champs can compete in the World Famous OTR Ping Pong League, which meets at the brewery at 7 p.m. on Thursdays. 
Hours: 3-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 3 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday; noon-2 a.m. Saturday; noon-9 p.m. Sunday

The Rook OTR, 1115 Vine St.
The Rook is Cincinnati’s only place dedicated entirely to board games. It features a library of over 1,000 games that are free to play. The Rook also has a full menu of shareable entrees and bites, plus 12 beers on tap, a wine list and specialty cocktails. Cocktails at The Rook are a one-of-a-kind, with offerings like the Pretty Pretty Princess (a sparkling wine and amaretto cocktail served with a candy bracelet) and the Capri Against Humanity (a Capri Sun with rum, served in the pouch).
Hours: 11 a.m.-midnight Monday-Wednesday and Sunday; 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Thursday-Saturday
 

Owners of The Littlefield opening second concept in Northside


Sports lovers will soon have a new hotspot in Northside. Located at 3936 Spring Grove Ave., Second Place will offer a “casual, neighborhood vibe” with an emphasis on local sports, according to co-owner Matt Distel.

Distel and partners, Chad Scholten, Mike Berry and John Ford currently own and operate The Littlefield, a bourbon bar and kitchen located next door to Second Place.

“We wanted to do more to attract people to that block of Northside,” Distel says. “The more people that are able to come to Northside and try a few different spots, the better.”

Second Place will be more spacious than The Littlefield — it will open into a courtyard with outdoor lounge areas and ping pong tables. Inside, there will be four televisions screening major sporting events, with a special focus on local and international soccer matches. There will also be a selection of board games and a pool table.

“Our main idea was to open a more casual bar, a place that’s comfortable to sit and watch a game or play some games,” Distel says. “We didn’t want it to scream sports bar, but it’s definitely something we offer.”

This “sports-referential” spot will feature a large draft beer selection, cocktails and bourbon slushies, which are the house specialty. Along with free popcorn, patrons will be able to snack on a limited menu developed by The Littlefield's chef, Shoshannah Hafner. The menu will ultimately expand to include a variety of house-smoked meats.

Second Place is expected to open in September, barring construction delays. For announcements regarding the opening date and official launch party, check out Second Place's Facebook page.
 

NOFA program allows developers to complete rehabs in eight neighborhoods


Ten residential development projects will receive a total of about $4.4 million in city funds through the Notice of Funding Availability program. The program was designed to help the city achieve PLAN Cincinnati’s goal of having a variety of quality housing options for people of all income levels and stages of life.
 
Each phase of funding will target a different set of neighborhoods. This round of funding includes projects in four targeted neighborhoods: College Hill, Madisonville, Northside and Walnut Hills, as well as projects in Camp Washington, Over-the-Rhine, Roselawn and South Cumminsville.
 
The money comes from a two-year surge in gap funding, and will help developers, individuals, partnerships, for-profit and nonprofit entities complete the rehabilitation of housing units in Cincinnati neighborhoods.
 
City funding is being exceeded by a ratio of 12:1 by funds from developers and other stakeholders, for a total of about $57 million in investment in the eight neighborhoods.
 
Projects that received NOFA funds in this round are:
 
  • Camp Washington Works — the rehabilitation of four single-family, affordable units in the heart of Camp Washington.
  • Working in Neighborhoods — three new, affordable, single-family homes and one market-rate unit in College Hill, called Cedar Corridor.
  • Madisonville New Homes — four new, market-rate, single-family homes.
  • 1865 Chase Ave. in Northside — seven market-rate rental units.
  • Abington, Race and Pleasant Apartments in Over-the-Rhine — the historic renovation of 50 affordable rental units.
  • Morgan Apartments in OTR — the renovation of 47 affordable rental units at 1900 Vine St., 1902-1904 Vine, 2 E. McMicken Ave., 53 E. Clifton Ave. and 19-27 W. Clifton Ave.
  • Roselawn Senior Apartments — 50 new affordable housing units for seniors.
  • The Commons at South Cumminsville — will add 80 one-bedroom supportive housing units to the neighborhood.
  • E. 771 and 772 McMillan St. in Walnut Hills — the renovation of seven rental units of market-rate housing.
  • Gateway at McMillan — the renovation of 12 market-rate rental units, as well as three storefronts, in Walnut Hills.

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.
 
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