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International street artists creating mural in downtown Covington


This past week, a team of internationally acclaimed street artists worked on a mural for the north-facing wall of the Boone Block Lofts in downtown Covington. The London Police, who are from Amsterdam, will be incorporating their iconic “lad” character into the mural, which is part of the Boone Block Living Art Wall.
 
A team of four artists, headed by the two founders of the London Police, will create the 40-foot-by-40-foot mural. The three-story wall that will house the mural will also be a vertical garden for mixed-media installations of art and plants.
 
Funding from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation launched the mural component of the initiative, and fundraising for the remainder of the project is ongoing.  
 
A “lad” was previously painted on the building to mark that the London Police would be back to finish covering the wall. The first green elements of the installation will be built on a trellis at street-level as fundraising continues.
 
The mural will pay homage to Mike Amann, the founder of BLDG, who passed away in 2013. He helped start the international street art movement in Covington, and played a huge part in bringing artists like the London Police, Vhils and Faille to the city. BLDG is curating the Boone Block installation.
 
The London Police is known for their lad characters and precision marking, as well as encouraging public engagement. Their body of work spans 16 years and appears in over 35 countries all around the world. The London Police recently did installations at the Quin Hotel in New York, The Coney Art Walls project at Coney Island and Sun Life Stadium in Miami; they were last in Covington in 2013.
 
The mural will bring together two aspects of downtown Covington’s revitalization efforts: public art and the restoration of historic properties. Other public art installations include the Curb’d parklets; Hotel Covington, which opens on Sept. 27; and several other residential projects.
 

Art Off Pike celebrates all forms of art for its 12th year


On Sept. 25, Art Off Pike is celebrating is 12th year, and it promises to be bigger and better than ever before. The free event, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., celebrates art in all forms, and takes place along Seventh Street between Washington and Madison streets in downtown Covington.
 
Artwork will be available for purchase from more than 60 local and regional artists, and there will be live music, spoken word artists, performance artists and interactive art installations.
 
Here is what’s going on this year:
  • The Forealism Tribe will lead costume parades at noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Before each parade, there will be costume-making workshops so event goers can make outfits to wear in the parades.
  • A mobile sound studio and popup instrument showroom will be on hand from Caravan Traveling Sound, and Plop! will have its three giant beanbags strewn about.
  • Durham Brand & Co. will be unveiling it is new mural on the arcade between Seventh and Pike streets, which is across the street from Braxton Brewing. The mural, funded by Cov10, features Covington native and Tony Award Winner and Academy Award nominee Una Merkel.
  • Music, food and live entertainment will be set up next to Braxton in the Madlot. Smoking Zeus will open the event and Baoku’s 10-piece band led by Baoku Moses will close the event. There will be local food trucks, and several Covington restaurants will be open for business before, during and after Art Off Pike.
Check out Art Off Pike's website for a full schedule of events.
 
 

Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic relocates, adds more foodie events to lineup


During the last weekend in September, the Cincinnati Food + Wine Classic will bring highlights from the Midwest culinary scene to the banks of the Ohio River. The event, which launched in 2014 at Washington Park, has relocated this year to Yeatman’s Cove, and is expected to accommodate a crowd of 9,000 people over the three days.

Co-founders Donna Covrett, the former dining editor for Cincinnati Magazine, and Courtney Tsitouris, of City Stories, established the CFWC to bring more attention to Cincinnati’s growing reputation as a foodie destination.

“Since our launch, our mission has been to capture the energy and enthusiasm of the Midwest's dynamic food and beverage scene, and to position the region as an exciting culinary nucleus,” Tsitouris says.

The CFWC will feature tastings from over 100 local, regional, national and international chefs. It will also feature wine and beer tastings, live cooking and kitchen demonstrations, an artisan marketplace and live local music.

The event kicks off with the Grill Invitational signature event from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Friday. Thirty chefs from across the country will be grilling live for a panel of judges and a hungry crowd. Along with the grill showdown, patrons will be able to enjoy desserts from one of three specialty pavilions and sip on a variety of 40 beverage options from the Wine and Beer Pavilion. The evening will be set to a live soundtrack, provided by the Northern Kentucky Bluegrass Band and the Buffalo Wabs & The Price Hill Hustle.

The party continues on Saturday with two grand tastings, featuring dishes from 30 restaurants, including live demos, seminars, guided tastings, author talks, panel discussions and live musical entertainment from The Soul Refugees with guests Eugene Goss and Bethany Whitten.

Also on Saturday is the Recipes and a Dream cooking competition, which will feature the three chefs from Soapbox's August Speaker Series. Mandira Jacob of Oh Little Mustard Seed, Chef Dionne McCaskill-Alston of All Day Kitchen and Pantry and Tyler Retyi-Gazda of Grind on the Rhine will compete Chopped-style for prize money.

The weekend wraps up on Sunday with the Rising Stars Brunch Grand Tasting, which is a brunch by-the-bite with dishes from about 24 up-and-coming sous chefs, chefs de cuisines, pastry chefs and spirits experts in Cincinnati. There will also be 12 different breakout sessions going on throughout the day, including the third annual Somm Slam, a competition and interactive blind tasting among five sommeliers.

Tickets are on sale now and will also be available the day of. Tickets are $95 each for one of the four grand tastings. After standard price tickets sell out, the price will increase to $115.

The CFWC donates a percentage of event profits to Freestore Foodbank and Findlay Market. There will also be a raffle for an ArteFlame Grill (valued at $1,850) during the event, with proceeds supporting Freestore Foodbank.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit CFWC's website.
 

Community ReSoup to fuel community conversations and ideas


On Sept. 25, the Center for Great Neighborhoods, Cov10, LiveWell NKY and the Northern Kentucky Incubator Kitchen will host A Community ReSoup. The free event will provide community building and discussion, as well as soup made from seconds.
 
“This event is really three-fold: It brings the community together over a meal, gets insight from community voices, and provides grants to community members to keep the momentum going,” says Rachel DesRochers, founder of the NKYIK and Grateful Grahams.
 
Two NKYIK tenants —  Debbie Carpenter-Coulter of Passion in My Pans and Gary Leybman of The Pickled Pig — will prepare soup for 600 people from “gleaned” foods. They’re working with local farmers, growers and Suzy DeYoung from LaSoupe to get enough produce for the soup.
 
“I’m so excited to get my tenants involved in more of these community meals and ideas,” DesRochers says.
 
One hundred tables will be set up and covered in paper tablecloths. Attendees will be invited to write and draw on the tables, providing their ideas for Covington.
 
A Community ReSoup will culminate in a pitch night — eight finalists will present their ideas in 3-5 minutes for a chance to win two $500 grants. The competition is open to anyone with an idea that builds community, makes a difference or helps someone in Covington.
 
Applications are being accepted until Sept. 11; you can apply here. The board will choose the finalists, and everyone who attends A Community ReSoup will vote for the two winners.
 
“I believe Northern Kentucky is alive and welcoming to creatives, and in a huge way,” DesRochers says. “LiveWell is giving my tenants a new chance and idea to get involved. I really see them as a group that’s trying to bring multiple groups and ideas together, rather than a new group trying to start new ideas.”
 
A Community ReSoup will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. on Sept. 25 in Orchard Park. Visit the event’s Facebook page for more information.
 

Seven NKY projects receive funding in first round of myNKY Nano Grants


In the first round of funding, Skyward and The Center for Great Neighborhoods awarded seven projects in Northern Kentucky with myNKY Nano Grants. The grants are to help support creative placemaking projects that help bring Northern Kentuckians together by building a sense of community, celebrating differences or fostering community pride.
 
The grants are part of a Center program already in place but expanded into three new communities that are part of Skyward’s nine-county target area for the myNKY Plan: Dayton, Florence and Pendleton County.
 
Each project received $250 to help bring its idea to fruition.
 
Dayton:
Dayton Storytime will encourage Dayton residents of all ages to gather to hear local stories in a series of evening events that are designed to increase civic pride and friendship among neighbors.
 
Take a Look @ Dayton KY will allow residents to create short videos about the city and enter them into a contest. The project will get many looking at the city differently and from new perspectives.
 
Florence:
Rose Buddies is a beautification, community engagement and education project that will keep the Knockout Roses along Mall Road blooming all season long.
 
Pendleton County:
A “Ewe-Nique” Art Hop will commission local artists to create artwork that will be displayed in vacant storefronts in Falmouth during the Kentucky Wool Festival. In conjunction with the unveiling of the art, pop-up galleries will open and local musicians will play during the festival, encouraging residents and visitors to enjoy local heritage, art and culture.
 
Imagine This… will expand existing leadership and community engagement programs for young students in Pendleton County Schools through an art and essay contest. The topic for the contest is the future of Pendleton County.
 
Little Free Libraries for PC is a more rural take on the Little Free Library craze. Small structures will be built for the free book exchange project at a number of locations throughout the county. The grant will be used to create signage to help direct people to the standalone libraries.
 
The deadline for a second round of funding for myNKY Nano Grants is Aug. 1. You can apply online here or download the application. All applicants will receive notification of funding decisions within 10 days of the application deadline.
 

Micro-granting organization provides dinner and instant funds to projects


Cincinnati SOUP, a new micro-granting organization, is helping fund ideas locally. But it’s not just a pitch night — it’s a community dinner where attendees provide a small donation and then get to vote on who receives the grant. The funding comes entirely from the night’s donations.
 
Unlike other funding avenues, presenters don’t need business plan, just a sustainable plan.
 
“Cincinnati SOUP is extremely grassroots,” Executive Director Herschel Chalk says. “Most of the presenters are community activists, and they have a small project coupled with a burning desire to make their neighborhood or city a better place to live and work.”
 
Cincinnati SOUP is based off the successful model of Detroit SOUP, another micro-granting dinner that celebrates and supports community initiatives and projects. Its mission is to promote community-based development through crowdfunding, creativity, collaboration, democracy, trust and fun.
 
“After seeing and hearing more and more about the Detroit concept, we felt that it was something that could work well in Cincinnati too,” Chalk says. “We figured it could be a great way to allow people to establish new relationships and networks, promote action and change, foster dialogue and instill neighborhood pride.”
 
For a donation of $10, attendees receive a dinner of soup, salad and bread. Before dinners, attendees listen to four project proposals that cover different topics, ranging from art and urban agriculture to social justice and technology. During the meal, votes are cast, and at the end of the night the winning project receives $8 from each attendee’s donation.
 
There have been three Cincinnati SOUP events so far, with the latest held on June 26 at the Kennedy Heights Cultural Arts Center. Past winners include Karen Davis of Storybook Entertainment, who received $780, and Hope Godfrey of The Butterfly Club, who received $1,120.
 
“SOUP doesn’t get involved in all of the minutiae and accepts people as they are, where they are,” Chalk says. “It’s based on a simple philanthropic recipe — bring a group of change agents and community activists together, and everyone goes home full, fulfilled and with a renewed sense of community.”
 
Stay tuned for more information regarding the fall Cincinnati SOUP event. Once it's announced, you can buy advance tickets here.
 

Annual Northside Music Fest adds hip-hop to lineup

 
In its ninth year, the Northside Music Fest is Cincinnati’s longest running, independently-run free music event. This year brings 16 bands to three stages at Northside Tavern, 4163 Hamilton Ave, on June 24-25.
 
Two of the stages are located inside of Northside Tavern — one in the cozy front room and a larger stage in the main back room — with the third on the outdoor patio.
 
Jason Snell, Mike Gibboney and Scott Torres founded Northside Music Fest in 2007 as a way to celebrate the neighborhood’s music scene and eclectic identity, as well as a way for all of their friends to play together. Over the years it’s grown from a one-night showcase of local music into a two-day festival featuring local and regional acts.

"What makes Northside Music Fest unique is that it's not a huge ticket festival," Snell says. "It's free, and it's all-neighborhood first. It brings together many communities in and around Northside and truly celebrates our unique flavor."
 
Previous years have seen bands like the Buffalo Killers, Daniel Martin Moore, James Leg (Black Diamond Heavies), Joan Shelley, Soledad Brothers, Tweens and Wussy. This year, Friday night will have more of a hip-hop/dance flavor, with Open Mike Eagle as the headliner, and Saturday will be more rock and psych-garage, with bands like Eye, Motel Beds and local punk band The Dopamines wrapping up the night.
 
The two-day festival starts at 7 p.m. on June 24. For the full schedule of artists, visit Northside Music Fest’s website.
 
If you can’t make it to Northside Music Fest, there will be more free live music at the Northside Rock ‘n’ Roll Carnival July 1-4.
 

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.
 

Small-batch distilleries making a comeback across Greater Cincinnati


Before and after Prohibition, there were around 80 distilleries in Over-the-Rhine alone. And just like breweries, distilleries exited the Cincinnati market until recently.

Small batch distilleries are now cropping up all around the city, and the majority of them are focusing on tasting room offerings and local retail sales.
 
A bill was passed on the state level recently to allow craft distilleries to obtain A1 liquor permits and allow the sale of mixed drinks and food on-site, much like breweries and brewpubs. Changes may be coming to some of Cincinnati's distilleries in the form of craft cocktails available in house, but for now you can find their offerings in area liquor stores and bars as well as in a few of their taprooms.
 
New Riff, 24 Distillery Way, Newport
Open since May 2014, New Riff has made a name for itself in the world of small-batch distilling. It uses two different stills — a 500-gallon pot still and a hand-operated column still — to create gin, bourbon and rye. Distillery tours are free Thursday-Sunday.

Henry Street Brewery & Distillery, 108 Henry St., Over-the-Rhine
Located in part of the old Christian Moerlein complex, Henry Street will be the first brewery, distillery and winery in the city of Cincinnati since Prohibition. The distillery’s opening date remains to be determined.
 
Northside Distilling Co., 1326-B Springlawn Ave., Northside
Northside Distilling started distributing its corn whiskey a year ago, but the small-batch distillery was able to double its output in January and now can make 8-12 cases per week. New offerings include bourbon and craft vodka. They opened a tasting room where customers can try samples and purchase liquor to go. Call 513-549-3831 to set up a tour.
 
OTR Still House/Knox Joseph Distillery, 1820 Central Parkway, Over-the-Rhine
A new venture from the owners of PetWants, the OTR Still House will open in a 117-year-old, 17,000-square-foot warehouse and will produce gin, whiskey and bourbon. The building will also be a venue for live music and entertainment and will be available for rent. It will also serve as warehouse space for PetWants production. An opening date hasn’t been set yet, but keep tabs on the distillery’s Facebook page for more information.
 
Second Sight Spirits, 301 B Elm St., Ludlow
Started by two Cirque du Soleil alums, Second Sight is all about helping to build community — the distillery often hosts on-site corporate functions and charity events. Known for its rum, Second Sight also launched Villa Hillbillies Moonshine in April. Free tours and tastings are available Thursday-Sunday.
 
Queen City Whiskey a.k.a. George Remus
Named after George Remus, King of Bootleggers, the whiskey is distilled locally and has been introduced to liquor stores and select bars throughout the region. They’ve even partnered with local breweries to create unique beer styles with bourbon characteristics.
 
Woodstone Creek, 4712 Vine St., St. Bernard
Known as Ohio’s first microdistillery, Woodstone Creek recently moved from a shared space with Listermann Brewing to its own location. Liquor offerings include Barrelhouse, Cincinnati Vodka, Murray Cask Peated Single Malt Whisky and Ridge Runner 5-Grain. The tasting room is open 2-7 p.m. Saturdays if you’re interested in a sample or a tour.
 

Cincinnati State continues beer industry class as local craft tradition grows


Last fall, Cincinnati State added a beer brewing industry class to its curriculum, which it will offer again this coming school year due to demand. The class is geared toward those who are interested in pursuing a job in the region’s growing craft beer industry.
 
BREW 100 teaches students the brewing process and the different styles of beer. The class tours a brewery and works with that brewery to develop a class beer — in the fall, the class will team up with Urban Artifact in Northside. Urban Artifact will then brew the beer and tap it in December during the last week of the semester.
 
Last fall, two sections of BREW 100 worked with Rhinegeist and Christian Moerlein. The Rhinegeist class beer was an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie stout called Gramma, and the Moerlein class beer was a black IPA called Brewschool 100 or Curve Ball. This past spring, the class worked with MadTree on a strawberry rhubarb American Hefeweizen, which will be brewed soon and should be tapped in July.
 
Cincy State is also offering BREW 160, or the Sensory Evaluation of Beer, for the second time. Jeremy Roza, assistant quality assurance manager at the Boston Beer Company in Cincinnati, will teach the class.
 
The college is currently seeking approval from the Ohio Department of Higher Education to offer a certificate program in Brewing Sales and Marketing, which would start this fall, as well as an associate degree in Brewing Science.
 
Registration is currently open for the 2016-17 academic year, and students can sign up for classes online. BREW 100 is also available for non-degree seeking students but is not intended for hobbyists or homebrewers.
 

Former veterinarian switches careers to open online bakery


Ryan Carneson, a former veterinarian, moved with his family to the U.S. from South Africa on a medical visa. While living in Los Angeles, Carneson decided to switch careers and attended the Art Institute of California, where he graduated with honors with an Associate Science Degree in Baking and Pastry.
 
“I’ve enjoyed both of my careers very much,” Carneson says. “I loved being around animals and working with them, but pastry gives me a chance to express my artistic side. I have the freedom to create and design beautiful things. I love taking the raw ingredients and turning them into something beautiful.”
 
Carneson grew up helping his mother in the kitchen, but culinary wasn’t really an option for him in South Africa. But once in the U.S., he had the chance to start his culinary education and he began in savory and then moved to pastry.
 
The Carnesons relocated to Cincinnati in 2015 to be near Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center for their son’s medical treatments. Carneson decided that he wanted to establish himself in the community and decided to start his own business, Indulgence by Ryan.
 
The online bakery is operated by Carneson and his wife Lydia and specializes in custom cakes, cupcakes, cookies, desserts and a variety of chocolate creations. Carneson’s favorite things to make are chocolate eclairs and children’s cakes.
 
Carneson says that in the future he’d love to open a brick-and-mortar bakery that features all types of baked goods, including homemade breads. It might be a sit-down coffee bar, where customers can come in and order a coffee and enjoy a pastry too.
 
There isn’t a timeline in mind, but Carneson says maybe early next year, as they’re still getting their young family settled in Cincinnati.
 

Five Points Alley mural pays homage to Walnut Hills


Five Points Alley in Walnut Hills has undergone a major facelift over the past year. The area was resurfaced with a stable, pervious aggregate, and electricity and lighting were installed. It hosts the Five Points Alley Biergarten, it will soon be the home of Gomez Salsa and it’s the site of a new mural from BLDG.
 
The mural, titled Wind!, portrays chaste and stoic faces of Walnut Hills residents that over time are chipped away by wind to reveal the windblown faces of the same residents. BLDG knew of a similar project by local photographer Jon Bob; designers blew it up and created a larger-than-life project that’s now installed on the walls of Five Points Alley.
 
Wind! is a reminder to look underneath what is readily apparent in order to find the bright, playful and whimsical potential underneath,” says Sarah Dotter, events and public outreach coordinator for Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation.
 
Before its redevelopment, Five Points Alley was a forgotten space that has been reclaimed and rejuvenated by Walnut Hills.
 
“Under all of the litter, brush, illegal dumping and criminal activity was a space waiting to become a place,” Dotter says.
 
More art will be coming to Five Points Alley in the next few months. BLDG plans to paint a large mural on the side of Gomez Salsa, and this summer ArtWorks will paint the last of its five wayfinding murals (designed by international artists and installed by BLDG) on the side of the Race Refrigeration building, which faces downtown.
 
The mural will be unveiled May 5 during the Cinco at Cinco at Cinco event at Five Points Alley. There will be tacos and turtles from Gomez Salsa, Rhinegeist and Urban Artifact beer for sale and live music by Mambo Combo from 5 to 9 p.m. The Walnut Hills qualifier of Supersize Jenga for the Cincinnati Neighborhood Games will also take place during the event.
 

ReNewport calls for mini grant applications


The city of Newport unveiled its ReNewport Quality of Life Plan earlier this year, outlining six categories that the community wants to see improvement upon by the year 2025: education; healthy, safety and wellness; housing; economic development; parks, recreation and beautification; and community engagement. After two years of planning, these goals were announced to the public in March.
 
Newport has now established a mini grant program to help start the process of implementing ReNewport. The grants will help fund community engagement efforts for Newport residents who want to help advance the program’s goals.
 
Applications are now being accepted for the first round of mini grants. All projects must center on improving the quality of life in Newport, and all applicants must either live or work in Newport. Grants are available in amounts up to $500. Two or more groups that work together on a single project can submit one grant application and request a maximum of $750 for their joint project.
 
Funding for the mini grants is made possible through LISC Place Matters.
 
The first round of mini grant applications are due by May 31, the second round of applications by Aug. 31 and the third round by Nov. 30.  

If you have a project idea, download the mini grant application here.
 

Entrepreneurs utilize Findlay Market to develop sandwich shop concept


Josh Dickerson and Tyler Retyi-Gazda have something in common: Their pipe dream is to open a restaurant. But before that happens, they’re looking to get honest feedback about their restaurant concept, Grind on the Rhine, which served at Findlay Market for the first time on April 16.
 
“Our concept involves cooking on the spot,” Dickerson says. “We’re focusing on fresh food and fresh ingredients.”
 
When dreaming up their concept, Dickerson and Retyi-Gazda knew that renting commercial kitchen space would be expensive, so they turned to Findlay Kitchen as a cost-effective alternative to make their dream happen.
 
The focus of Grind on the Rhine is po’ boys, a sandwich invented in New Orleans during a streetcar strike. With the streetcar coming soon to Over-the-Rhine and downtown, Dickerson and Retyi-Gazda thought po’ boys belonged in Cincinnati too. 
 
Ideally, Grind on the Rhine’s storefront will open within the year, but Dickerson says they want to focus on perfecting their menu first. That menu is small right now, but once a brick-and-mortar restaurant opens it will be expanded upon.
 
The Showcase Grinder is shaved sirloin, caramelized onion, arugula and honey mustard on a ciabatta baguette from Shadeau Breads. Another menu highlight is the Pulled Pork Shoulder, which is pulled pork shoulder topped with a mango habandero BBQ sauce and apple slaw, also on a ciabatta baguette from Shadeau. There’s also a Chicken Muffeleta, which is ham and salami finished with an olive tapanade.
 
Grind on the Rhine also has an All-Day Breakfast, which is bacon and egg that can be topped with tomato and arugula. All of the seasonings and sauces are made from scratch by Retyi-Gazda, who is the chef. Sides include homemade Saratoga chips made from sweet potatoes and purple potatoes and rice and quinoa with walnuts, craisins and lemon zest.
 
Dickerson says right now they’re focused on serving on weekends at Findlay Market until they get their sandwiches perfected, and then they’ll expand from there.
 

New U-Square restaurant puts a fresh spin on French fries, hopes to grow into national chain


Scott Nelowet spent 20 years as an educator but decided that he wanted to branch out into the food business. While on a trip to Europe with his wife, Nelowet saw that Belgian fry stands and herring stands were everywhere.
 
“I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel but bring something back to the States that was working well over there,” Nelowet says.
 
He launched his Belgian-style loaded fry business at a vegan festival, where he concocted a vegan cheese sauce that festival goers loved. Nelowet outsold all of the other food booths at the festival and did a few others to get experience under his belt.
 
He launched French Fry Heaven as a snack brand in Jacksonville, Fla. in Fall 2011. It featured frozen fries and a variety of toppings and succeeded as such in shopping malls. But he wanted to think bigger.
 
“I got together a group of consultants who suggested that we get out of malls and do everything fresh,” Nelowet says. “So that’s what we did.”
 
French Fry Heaven’s menu now features fresh hand-cut fries, potato chips and baked potatoes that are topped with a slew of toppings, sauces and salts, all of which are sourced from local produce and made fresh in-house.
 
The restaurant at U-Square adjacent to the University of Cincinnati is about 2,600 square feet and features an expansive dining room as well as a to-go and delivery option. Menu highlights include the Buffalo Chicken, Garlic Chicken Parmesan and Pulled Pork, which is smoked in-house and topped with jalapenos and French Fry Heaven’s homemade cheese sauce. And it’s not all French fries — they’re also known for chicken tenders and smoothies.
 
You can customize any dish with any of French Fry Heaven’s 20 different dips and sea salt add-ons, including the spiciest option: a ghost pepper salt.
 
There’s a separate vegetarian menu that replaces the meat with cheese curds, which Nelowet says has the same flavor profile as the meat but within their dietary restrictions.
 
“Cincinnati will be the birthplace of the new French Fry Heaven,” Nelowet says.

From here, he hopes to franchise locations all across the country and revamp the existing snack stand locations to include this new menu. Many of the restaurants will feature a local craft beer list, but because Ohio's beer license and liquor license are one and the same Nelowet chose not to offer alcohol at the Cincinnati location.
 
French Fry Heaven is open 11 a.m.-3 a.m. daily at 206 Calhoun St.
 
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