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Thirsty? Try these local brews on for size


People are starting to notice the Queen City’s obsession with beer. According to Smart Asset, Cincinnati ranks fourth in the country as a destination for beer enthusiasts, and our city's recent shout-out in the New York Times includes a suggestion to check-out the Brewery Heritage Trail.

We wanted to take things one step further and provide you, our dear readers, an unofficial guide to our favorite beers around town.

The Gadget, Urban Artifact

Breweries in Cincinnati are notorious for repurposing spaces, especially historical breweries from the turn-of-the-century, when the city was known for beer production. But, Urban Artifact is located in the old St. Patrick Catholic Church in Northside, which symbolizes the blend of two beautiful Cincinnati traditions: Catholic heritage and quality beer.

Urban Artifact is known for its sour beers, and The Gadget is the perfect way to represent the state of Ohio in this category. The Gadget is part of the Midwest Fruit Tart series and is brewed at the height of summer with fresh raspberries and blackberries up front and a clean, tart finish. You can get it this month on draft in the taproom or as a 4-pack to-go. Check out this release calendar for when the rest of the Midwest Fruit Tart series will be available.

Corruption, Wooden Cask

Cincinnati has always claimed Northern Kentucky as part of the city, and Newport's Wooden Cask Brewing Company is a beautiful example of this bond between states. Wooden Cask combines the best of Cincinnati — beer — with the best of Kentucky spirits — bourbon — by aging its beer in bourbon barrels. The results are a selection of richly flavored artisan ales.

Corruption is a dark, sweet, bourbon barrel-aged Scottish stout. The first batch was aged in Buffalo Trace barrels and the current batch is marinating in Boone County barrels. Corruption is boozy and smooth with notes of chocolate.

Team Fiona, Listermann

If you put a picture of everyone’s favorite hippo on it, the people of Cincinnati will buy it. However, Listermann Brewing’s Team Fiona New England Style IPA is more than just a gimmick to buy beer. This IPA is hazy with a fresh pop of citrus that balances the floral hoppiness usually present in an IPA. Not only is the beer delicious, but the partnership between the Cincinnati Zoo and Listermann’s symbolizes a collaboration between two great Queen City institutions.

The brewery just celebrated Fiona's first birthday with a special release that sold out quickly, but it's possible there will be a new riff on the favorite in the near future.

Tea Bags, Streetside

Speaking of collaboration, Streetside Brewery’s motto is “the intersection of community and craft beer,” which influences every aspect of the business. Streetside in Columbia-Tusculum is all about balancing traditional brews with experiments that often invite community input and ingredients from some of the city’s favorite spots like local coffee shops and tea houses.

Tea Bags is a honey green tea blonde ale that is light and crisp with a finish of tannins and a twinge of sweet. The ale is brewed with Dragonwell and Jasmine Green tea from Essencha Tea House in Oakley, emblematic of Streetside's creative partnerships throughout the city.

Hefeweizen, West Side Brewing

The West Side has a reputation for being a bit more conservative and a little more traditional than the East Side of the city. The West Side has retained much of the vintage charm that put Cincinnati on the map way before we had our current brewery boom.

West Side Brewing is all about catering to this conservative market with traditional, staple brews like IPAs and ambers, but the Hefewiezen is a must try. Hefes are a unique German blend of wheat and yeast with a delicious result. West Side’s Hefeweizen is a true classic with subtle banana and clove notes swirling in a shade of hazy gold.
 


Platform Beer Co. extends its reach to Ohio's third "C" this summer


The region is home to nearly 50 micro-breweries that run the gamut of speciality, focus, ambiance and size. In 2018, Cincinnati will welcome at least one more.

Coming this summer, Over-the-Rhine will be home to a new tasting room for Cleveland-based Platform Beer Co. The two-story, 2,500-square-foot space located at 1201 Main St. will serve speciality coffee, food, cocktails and Platform's barrel aged beer program.

The company was founded in 2014 with its first location in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood and expanded to a second location in downtown Columbus in 2015.

The OTR location will complete Platform’s takeover of "Ohio’s three Cs," and owner Paul Brenner explains that having a local presence is important to their mission and vision. “We want to be localized in our markets so we’re not just another brand on the shelf and so there’s some connection to the local community. Customers will get to come in and interact with our brand, our look and feel, and who we are — as opposed to just grabbing a 6-pack.”

The space will be part coffee shop, part brew pub, and will be designed to be casual and inviting all day long, with couches and comfortable seating. Platform is partnering with Coffee Emporium to offer coffees that have been aged in repurposed beer barrels, and the beer served will be finished on-site in bourbon, rum, wine, scotch and brandy barrels.

Brenner says it will be possible to enjoy a shot of bourbon and then a beer that was aged in its barrel, plus a shot of coffee that was aged in that same barrel.

Platform will also offer a full food menu, which is still in the works. Hours are projected to be from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays and until 12 p.m. on the weekends. Follow them on Facebook or visit their website for updates ahead of the grand opening.

And in other brewing news:

  • Fifty West is now canning: Open since 2012, Fifty West has been in the Cincinnati brewing game for a while, but up until January, its beer could only be enjoyed on-site. Cans of Coast to Coast IPA, American Lager and Doom Pedal White Ale are now available for retail sale and on the shelves in local Kroger stores.
  • Kevin Moreland joins Fretboard Brewing Company: Former Listermann brewer and co-founder of Taft’s Ale House Kevin Moreland has signed on as managing partner and production manager for Blue Ash-based Fretboard Brewing Co., which opened in November.
  • Braxton’s new event space: Covington-based Braxton Brewing recently added a 2,000-square-foot private event space called “The Loft” above its taproom. The space is available for private parties and can accomodate 90 seated or 120 standing guests.
Need more beer? Check out our favorite local brews in this week's roundup.
 

Lincoln Art Project will shed light on diverse culture in Walnut Hills


For the residents of Walnut Hills, the African-American culture is vital to the redevelopment of the neighborhood. One way to keep the culture prominent is through art.

The Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation, the Walnut Hills Historical Society and MORTAR are working to put together the Lincoln Art Project. The project aims to bring back some of the lost history of the African-American community through research, murals and events.

The three-part project is still in the infant stages, but the first portion — the research of African-American businesses in Walnut Hills — is already finished.

Next, local artist Janet Creekmore will paint murals based on submitted stories of the neighborhood's African-American community. The murals will be painted on storefronts on the corner of Lincoln and Gilbert avenues.

Lincoln was once a prominent area for African-American shops but has been abandoned due to the expansion of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

“If you look at development all around Cincinnati, all around the world, there's always a historical preservation committee or something and often times, African-American communities are left out of the equation,” says Aprina Johnson, community outreach coordinator for the WHRF.

By helping to preserve the African-American culture, the Lincoln Art Project will help add African-Americans back into the equation.

“There's value there; there's worth there — I want people to see that,” Johnson says.

The third part of the project is to continuously have art-related events in the area that demonstrate African-American culture.

“Most of the children that go to school in Walnut Hills are African-American, so to have that place where they can go and see and interact with art rather than a plaque or book is really exciting,” says Johnson. “They don't have to think about things, they see it and say ‘Oh I'm here, it's real so I can actually follow in these people's footsteps. I can actually do this.’”

The WHRF, the City of Cincinnati and the Greater Cincinnati Redevelopment Authority, with the help of the Cincinnati Development Fund and the Haile Foundation, purchased the properties that the murals will be painted on.

Many of the people in the community, as well as outside of the community, are in favor of the project.

The project will revamp the cosmetic look of the Lincoln and Gilbert intersection and bring people of all races from all over Cincinnati to the neighborhood.

“Sometimes it's like people don't want to shop in a black community,” says Johnson. “They'd rather shop in another community and once this all blossoms, this will be a business district where people of all races and nations and belief systems will come and find it valuable.”
 


One-of-a-kind moto show returns to Rhinegeist for fourth year


On Jan. 27, more than 50 one-of-a-kind vintage and custom motorcycles and upward of 5,000 motorcycle enthusiasts will descend on the Queen City. The fourth annual Garage Brewed Moto Show will take over Rhinegeist for an all-day celebration of classic bikes and craft beer. The event, which runs from noon to midnight, will fill the taproom and event space with bikes on display, motorcycle accessories and equipment vendors and a silent charity auction.

Garage Brewed is the brainchild of the Cincinnati Cafe Racer Motorcycle Club and its founder, Tim Burke. The club formed about nine years ago when there was nothing else like it in the region. “We started to build community around vintage and Euro bikes,” says Burke. “We always talked about doing something in the winter because we sit around with cabin fever and can’t ride, everyone gets stir crazy.”

Cabin fever motivated the club to start the Garage Brewed Moto Show four years ago, which quickly grew to larger proportions than the organizers or venue had imagined. “That first year we set up this huge show, brought in thousands of people. Throughout the night it was shoulder to shoulder from the time we opened; they were running out of beers and didn’t have enough staff. We were their single largest sales day of the year.”

The event has continued to grow and command big crowds, and organizers have continued to make tweaks and improvements to the original formula. It's still free to attend, and for the past two years, has been held all day to give ample time and more space for attendees to peruse the unique bikes on display.

This year, a distinguished panel of judges will evaluate and award bikes in the garage custom, pro custom, classic and race bike categories, and attendees will vote on the People’s Choice Award. The bikes in the show are included via invitation to pro-builders and through nominations from the general public.

Burke is excited about a strong line-up of interesting bikes this year. Hollerin’ Jerr, a builder out of New York, will be displaying a highly-customized, found-art chopper with unexpected details like bottlecaps as washers. The show will also feature a locally-built electric motorcycle, plus an assortment of vintage Japanese and British bikes, vintage Harleys and pre-WWII Indians.

The show is also a fundraiser for Operation Combat Bikesaver, an Indiana-based nonprofit that builds custom motorcycles with veterans and first responders working to overcome depression and PTSD. Event sponsor Bitwell Inc. donated motorcycle helmets that were decorated, painted and embellished by local artists and will be auctioned off to help raise funds. Other event sponsors helping to make the event a success include Rev’it, T.C. Bros and Metal Rescue.

The free, family-friendly event runs from noon to midnight on Saturday, Jan. 27, at Rhinegeist (1910 Elm St.). For more information and updates, check out the event website and Facebook page.
 


Cincy receives over $800,000 in historic tax credits for four rehab projects

 
Although state historic tax credit programs across the country recently experienced cutbacks, Ohio communities plan to make the most of the funds from the most recent round of funding.


The State Historic Preservation Office and the Ohio Development Services Agency awarded projects across the state $28.4 million in historic preservation tax credits to rehabilitate 22 buildings in 11 communities, including projects in Over-the-Rhine and College Hill. Cincinnati projects received a total of $818,000.

The hope is that these credits will catalyze development and attract millions of dollars in additional private investment.

Local projects receiving tax credits include:

  • The former Engine Company 22 firehouse at 222 W. 15th St. in OTR, which received $250,000. Developer Jim Daniels plans to restore the property into a mixed-use office space with a parking garage and an upper floor rental unit.
  • Two other vacant buildings in OTR at 57 E. McMicken Ave. and 1662 Hamer St. received $225,000 for rehabilitation into nine apartments and ground-level commercial space.
  • College Hill is receiving $188,000 in tax credits for developments at 5901 Hamilton Ave. — the former Dow Drugstore, which will be converted to commercial space and four apartment units. 
  • Also in College HIll, $155,000 will go to 5917 and 5932 Hamilton Ave., a former bakery/restaurant known as the Dollhouse and a bank building, respectively. Plans include first-floor commercial space and apartments.

As the city continues to grow, the need for more residential and commercial space increases. State historic tax credits help complement the city's historic buildings, while making room for continued growth and migration.

 


New York-based filmmakers bringing live, interactive event to Memorial Hall on Jan. 27


On Jan. 27, a duo of New York-based indie filmmakers, Brent Green and Sam Green, are bringing their unique Live Cinema experience to Memorial Hall. Live Cinema blends short film screenings with storytelling and live narration, scored with live music performed by musicians, including Brendan Canty (Fugazi), James Canty (Nation of Ulysses), Becky Foon (Thee Silver Mt. Zion) and Kate Ryan.

Brent and Sam (no relation) have performed Live Cinema internationally, and thanks to a partnership between Memorial Hall and the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnatians will have a chance to experience it firsthand.

The short films included in each show rotate and the stories that the filmmakers tell change, too. “We have a rule for the show,” explains Brent. “On stage, we’re allowed to ask the other person to tell any story we’ve ever heard them tell and they have to do it.” This spontaneity shapes their performances and no two Live Cinema events are the same.


Brent, who is both a filmmaker and a visual artist, is known for his 2010 film Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then, which features a full-scale town he built in his backyard and was filmed using a blend of animation, stop-motion and live-action.

His collaborator Sam has made more than a dozen films, including The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller, a live film collaboration with the indie rock band Yo La Tengo; and the documentary The Weather Underground, which was nominated for an Academy Award. Both filmmakers have new work screening at the Sundance Film Festival (Jan. 18-28), and Sam is performing a new live cinema piece there with the Kronos Quartet. Sam has been performing live cinema pieces since 2009, and the duo have worked together for several years.

As Brent explains, they perform live cinema because they believe that “communal experiences are important. We like the audience, the whole thing feels like hanging out.”

Unlike typical film-watching experiences where moviegoers sit individually in a dark room, the pair strives to create a welcoming and interactive experience more akin to a rock concert than watching a movie.


The duo will share their special live cinema experience for one performance only on Saturday, Jan. 27. Live Cinema is happening at the Annie W. and Elizabeth M. Anderson Theater at Memorial Hall at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $20.

More info and tickets are available on Memorial Hall
's website. Brent is also curating a short film screening at 7 p.m. at The Mini Microcinema on Jan. 26. Visit Sam's and Brent’s websites for more info about their individual work.
 


Last-minute local gift guide

 

It's Dec. 19, and you’ve waited until the last minute to buy your Christmas gifts. That’s okay, because these local, female artisans and crafters have you covered, with options for almost anyone on your list. ‘Tis the season!

For the considerate yet snarky person
Greeting cards and stationery from local printing company Pistachio Press are musts. The cards are beautifully handcrafted and include sincere messages from owner Rachael Hetzel, with a humorous twist. Hetzel is committed to environmentally sustainable materials for her edgy cards, and uses cotton paper and rubber-based inks, and she cleans her press with earth-friendly solvents. You can check out her range of products on Etsy.

For the person who loves their neighborhood
Flores Lane candles have captured East Side, West Side and the city itself in abundant, rich scents. Though the shop isn’t technically local, part-owner Trish Baden is a hometown girl who grew up in Hamilton. Like all of its candles, the Flores Lane Cincinnati series features hand-poured soy wax that diminishes environmental impact and makes the candles last longer.

For the slightly morbid girl in your neighborhood
Tooth and Claw owner and designer Chelsea Stegeman crafts her jewelry from ethically sourced animal parts like groundhog pelvis, King Cobra vertebrae and coyote ribs. Though her jewelry often leans toward a darker aesthetic, the designs and natural beauty can complement most any style.

For the guy who just moved in and is already obsessed with his neighborhood
T-shirts from Originalitees are go-to holiday gifts. Khisha Asabuhi started Originalitees seven years ago as a way to express neighborhood pride. The company’s clothing celebrates the uniqueness of Cincinnati while catering to many tastes — and they're comfortable too.

For someone who loves coffee, soup, hot chocolate or tea
Grab a mug from CG Ceramics. Although a mug for Christmas may not seem very original, these mugs are special — every single piece is hand-thrown by potter and owner Christie Goodfellow. CG Ceramics’ pottery is durable enough for daily use, making it the ideal go-to coffee cup. Goodfellow's neutral color palette and organic design make her pieces appealing to a wide variety of people.
 


Two local entrepreneurs opening Mexican, Japanese restaurants in College Hill


The College Hill Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation sees College Hill as “an urban, comfortable and livable community,” which is why the nonprofit is working with partners to amplify the neighborhood’s image and expand its already thriving business community.

Kiki and Tortilleria Garcia will join College Hill’s central business district next year at 5932 and 5917 Hamilton Ave., respectively. Kiki will utilize the space in the former National City Building, and Tortilleria Garcia will inhabit what was once the Doll House Property, for which CHCURC received a $35,000 grant for architectural and engineering drawings for renovation.

“CHCURC is really doing some amazing things in the community,” says Hideki Harada, who is working with his wife Yuko to open Kiki. Harada has been the chef at Kaze in Over-the-Rhine since it opened.

The two met while attending culinary school in Japan. “It’s been a dream of ours to open a business together and create something genuine and creative,” Harada says. “Kiki was my nickname from grade school through high school, and it reminds me of the fun, rebellious and tough years growing up.”

It’s a description that exemplifies what Harada says the restaurant will embody.

The concept: a Japanese bar, or “izakaya.” Expect décor to include wood furniture and denim, while the menu will feature Ramen and other Japanese dishes. With seating for 65, enough flexibility will be offered to allow Harada to keep the menu new and fresh. Tentative plans include one sushi night per week.

The restaurant will be within close proximity to hiss home, which Harada says makes opening a business in College Hill even more special, as he knows the amount of support offered to new businesses there.

For Omar Garcia, owner of Tortilleria Garcia, sentiments are similar, as he is also a College Hill resident.

Tortilleria Garcia currently operates in a location on Springfield Pike, and it will continue to do so, but will have the opportunity to grow with the opening of a second location.

Known for its tortilla machine, which allows patrons to watch as their food is made, Tortilleria Garcia offers classic and authentic Mexican fare.

The College Hill location will offer the same concept; however, Garcia says there will be more items on the menu, and will feature a large dine-in area and patio.

With recipes passed down to him from his mother and grandmother — with whom he grew corn with on his family farm in Mexico prior to his arrival in the U.S. — Garcia is achieving his dream of passing on his heritage and food-related traditions to others. Now he has the opportunity to do it in his own neighborhood.

Expect Kiki and Tortilleria Garcia to both open in spring 2018.
 


Woodward Theater won $150,000 national grant to restore its historic marquee


When MOTR owners Dan McCabe, Chris Schadler and Chris Varias opened the Woodward Theater in 2014, there wasn’t enough money left after renovations to paint the place. But they didn’t let that stop the grand opening. Instead, they held a “Pints for Paint” event, which with the help of the community, they raised the funds they needed.

This community spirit and participation continues to guide the Woodward, which recently won a $150,000 grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Vote Your Mainstreet contest to facelift the building and restore its original electric marquee.


With the help of the Cincinnati Preservation Association's executive director Paul Muller, the Woodward applied for the grant. The national contest pitted the Woodward against 25 other main street communities around the country; it required organizations to get daily community votes in support of their projects.

“The local music community really got behind this and voted diligently, and the other businesses on Main Street were supportive as well,” says McCabe. “The support of our staff, most of which have been with us since we opened MOTR in 2010, was fantastic. They mobilized their friends and people voted daily.”


The grant will allow the Woodward to complete a total exterior facelift, including improving structural elements, updating wiring and sockets, repairing the crumbling plaster rosettes and returning the original lightbulb sign to its 1913 glory. With the help of local metal fabricator Kate Schmidt, as well as an architect and structural engineer, the Woodward's marquee restoration project should be completed by the end of 2018.

The sign will be constructed of copper, maintaining the original beaux-arts (think pre-Art Deco) aesthetic. “It’s going to be an attraction,” McCabe says. “I expect people to get off the streetcar and walk up. It’s going to be bright and shiny and a destination for people exploring OTR for the architecture.”

Cincinnati is rich in architectural heritage, especially period Italianate architecture, which is part of what McCabe attributes to the community support for the project. “Cincinnati loves its history,” he says.


The permitting process is expected to take some time, but McCabe is confident in the project, which he says will include some fun and surprising touches as they ramp up to the big reveal. Stay tuned to the Woodward's Facebook page for progress updates and for announcements related to the reveal. “It’ll be worth celebrating,” McCabe promises.
 


Soapbox Picks: Projects to watch in 2018


At the end of each calendar year, we at Soapbox like to draw up best-of lists (check back next week for our top-read stories of the year). But we also like to give you, our dear readers, a look at what's in the development pipeline for the new year.

Riverfront Commons
Connecting the Northern Kentucky neighborhoods from Ludlow to Fort Thomas, Riverfront Commons is an 11.5-mile walking and biking path that will run along the Ohio River.

The project aims toward ecosystem restoration, riverside stabilization, economic development and recreation.

Connecting Ludlow, Covington, Newport, Bellevue, Dayton and Fort Thomas, this path will allow runners, walkers and bikers from both local neighborhoods and Cincinnatians crossing the river via the Purple People Bridge. The project is underway and will be completed in sections.

Downtown Kroger
A new mixed-use, 18-story tower at the corner of Court and Walnut streets will feature 139 residential apartments, a 555-space parking structure and a two-story Kroger with a beer and wine bar. The project is expected to reach completion in summer 2019.

This will be downtown’s first supermarket since 1969 and will service residents in downtown, Over-the-Rhine and the West End.

Fourth and Race Street development
At the northwest corner of Fourth and Race streets, 3CDC and Indianapolis-based developer Flaherty and Collins are working on a new mixed-use building. The structure will include 264 apartments, a 700-space parking garage and 21,000 square feet of commercial space. The project is slated for completion next summer.

The project promises to offer more living space for residents migrating downtown and a new place for existing residents.

Uptown Innovation Corridor
The newly opened interchange at the intersection of Martin Luther King Drive and I-71 brings more opportunities to the Uptown neighborhood. Three projects involving 51,000 residents are already underway to host Uptown’s medical, research and innovation industries.

Uptown Gateway, an office, retail, residential and parking garage at the southeast corner of Reading Road and MLK is expected to be completed in 2020. The University of Cincinnati’s Gardner Neuroscience Institute, a treatment, research and teaching center, began construction in June. And lastly, the 1819 Innovation Hub in the former Sears building will be a place for UC startups to expand their work. Opening in 2019, it will also serve as a place for private and public collaborations.

Shillito’s redevelopment
The former downtown Shillito’s department store is slated for a long-awaited redevelopment. Local commercial real estate company Neyer Properties is planning to turn the western half of the building into a 450-space parking garage and 100,000 square feet of office space and street-level retail. The firm plans to preserve a level of the historic structure, but updates like larger windows are in store.

Duveneck Square
The urban infill project on Washington Street between Seventh and Eighth streets in Covington will house apartments and retail space. Across from Braxton Brewery, the project is expected to be finished in March 2018 offering new, modern housing for the neighborhood. One highlight local beer aficianados will love is the outdoor beer garden adjacent to Braxton that broke ground a few weeks ago.

MLS Stadium
FC Cincinnati, which currently plays home games at UC's Nippert Stadium, is in talks to obtain a stadium of its own. But the road hasn't been easy: The outcome rides on the MLS decision for its next two expansion teams.

A 16-acre lot in Oakley, which once held a manufacturer called Cast-Fab, is one of the proposed sites for the new stadium. On Dec. 14, the MLS will announce the two expansion teams — Cincinnati must beat out Nashville and Sacramento for one of the spots.
 


Cincinnati's first minority-owned brewery coming to Walnut Hills in 2018


Beer is big in Cincinnati — it’s not exactly news. As breweries spring up around the Tristate, each one has to work hard to differentiate itself from a crowded craft beer market.

Recently announced Esoteric Brewing Company has several tactics for setting itself apart from others, starting with the fact that it will be the first minority-owned brewery in the city. Founder and CEO Brian Jackson honed his skills at MadTree before deciding to set off on his own; he's also a MORTAR grad.

“'Esoteric' means 'sophistication,'” says Jackson. “We’re trying to elevate the palates of customers and the entire experience of people coming to breweries in Cincinnati.”

He plans to offer a diverse selection of brews, which will include local favorites like traditional American IPAs and stouts, as well as more complex beers like his award-winning Belgian quadruple, Nirvana.

Jackson picked a location that matches that sense of style and sophistication: the historic Paramount building in Walnut Hills, which was once known as Cincinnati's “second downtown.”

The beautiful Art Deco-style building from 1910 has sat empty for a decade, but was purchased last year by the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation, and is currently undergoing renovations. Partnering with several community organizations, Esoteric plans to use the roaring '20s vibe of the space to create a modern speakeasy.

“It’ll have the beautiful, rustic feel of a speakeasy with partitions to create little pockets of intimate conversation,” Jackson explains.

Esoteric is not only committed to improving and updating the Paramount, but the community of Walnut Hills at large. Jackson and his marketing guru, Marvin Abrinica, are both minorities who appreciate the challenges of reviving a struggling neighborhood.

“Walnut Hills is such a metaphor for what’s going on in Cincinnati,” says Abrinica. “We chose a lotus as our logo because it’s a beautiful thing that grows from dark places.”

Adds Jackson: “It’s a complex problem. But our partners are committed to revitalization without kicking people out [of the neighborhood.”]

In fact, Esoteric’s business model is banking, literally, on community investment. The brewery plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign this winter that will offer equity in Esoteric. “We are a minority-owned business funded by the people for the people,” Abrinica says.

Esoteric is projected to open next winter. Abrinica says the best way to follow their progress is via Esoteric's website, Facebook or Instagram (@esotericbrewing).
 


Community event this weekend to highlight the people and stories in Price Hill


On Dec. 9, Cincy Stories will host the Price Hill People’s Celebration to cap off its residency in Price Hill and celebrate the community they’ve gotten to know over the past four months. The event will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater; the event is free, and attendees will be able to hear stories and interviews, enjoy catered food and converse with neighbors from all corners of Price Hill.

Cincy Stories strives to use storytelling as a way to encourage those from diverse backgrounds to come together and connect. Its goal is to explore, research and connect the residents of all 52 of Cincinnati’s neighborhoods.

The success of its residency in Walnut Hills attracted the attention of Price Hill Will, which reached out to Cincy Stories.

Shawn Braley, co-founder and executive director of Cincy Stories, says that Price Hill is both interesting and important to Cincinnati because it comprises 10 percent of the city’s population. The contrasts of a growing population of Guatemalan immigrants, battles with addiction, locals who have lived in the neighborhood for decades and new growth gives Price Hill a “level of tension.”

Braley explains that Cincy Stories' goal is to not just tell stories, but to have an impact. "Storytelling makes people aware that everyone is human. Sharing stories gives them a chance to hear each other."

Price Hill's diverse stories range from a profile on Mayor John Cranley to an interview with Aaron Head, a recovering heroin addict now working with men's group homes. Other stories feature Buddy LaRosa, founder of LaRosa’s Pizzeria; local singer/songwriter Tray Walker; and Margherita Gonzalez, a woman who survived an arduous upbringing and immigrated to the states to give her daughter a better life.

Cincy Stories also worked with local organizations like Holy Family Church, which recently hosted an event called Turkeys and Tamales, where everyone brought food from their own cultures to share; the infamous Price Hill Chili, a Price Hill staple; and some of the newer businesses moving to the neighborhood.

“We call it a celebration because we want to highlight the people,” Braley says. He's looking forward to Saturday’s event because it will bring together the beautiful and diverse population of Price Hill all at once.

The event will also kick off Cincy Stories' online content, which will include 60 stories in video and podcast form that will be released gradually over the coming weeks.
 


You'd better not pout: Six events to get you in the holiday spirit


With Thanksgiving over, it’s now time for frenzied holiday shopping, gatherings with loved ones and making as much merry as possible before winter settles in and stays a while. Soapbox rounded up some of the biggest and best events that Cincinnati has to offer this holiday season, and sprinkled in a few fun and unexpected ideas for a little extra festive magic.

Victorian Holiday Village
Dec. 1, 2, 7 and 8, 6 to 8:30 p.m.

For 16 years running, Ohio National Financial Services has hosted a festive holiday event at its headquarters near Kenwood. The family-friendly, walk-through display features thousands of twinkle lights adorning fully decorated miniature Victorian homes, cookies and cocoa, live entertainment and photos with St. Nick. The event is free and open to the public. Visit the Facebook page for more information.

Over-the-Rhine Holiday Home Tour
Dec. 1, 6 to 9 p.m. and Dec. 2, 3 to 6 p.m.

Get out and work off some Thanksgiving calories at the Over-the-Rhine Holiday Home walking tour. The self-paced, family-friendly event, now in its fourth year, offers an exclusive peek at some of the neighborhood’s most historic homes. Tickets are $25, with proceeds benefitting Future Leaders OTR, a nonprofit working with neighborhood youth. Visit the Facebook event for more info and tickets.

Crafty Supermarket
Dec. 2, 11 a.m.

Held in the newly renovated Music Hall, this year’s Crafty Supermarket is a must for one-of-a-kind holiday shopping. The huge flea market-style event brings together more than 90 vendors from throughout the region, offering handmade goods to delight even the hardest to shop for relatives. The free event also features food offerings from local restaurants like Eli’s BBQ and Fireside Pizza, a live DJ, cash bar and craft activities. Visit the Facebook page for details.

Visits with Krampus
Dec. 2 and 9

Cincinnati’s German history runs deep. The city hosts two German-themed holiday markets, Germania Christkindlmarkt and Cincideutsch Christkindlmarkt, and Krampuslauf Zinzinnati will be at both. Founded in 2014 with the goal of “putting the ghoul back in your Yule,” the group’s mission is to spread the German tradition of Krampus. Krampus, a legend that predates even Santa, is a creature said to punish bad children and whisk them away to the woods. Unlike the stories about Krampus, Krampuslauf Zinzinnati states that its intention is not to frighten children but to keep this bizarre slice of Bavarian heritage alive. Check out the group's website and Facebook page for upcoming appearances to get a photo with Krampus.

Mt. Adams Reindog Parade
Dec. 9, 12:30 to 4 p.m.

Hosted by SPCA Cincinnati, the annual Reindog parade is a fun outing for pups of all ages and their human families. The parade is free to enter and features a festive costume contest, street food vendors and is led by Santa Claus himself. Visit the Facebook event for all of the details.

The Naughty List starring OTR Improv
Dec. 12-28, 7:30 p.m.

When you’re ready to put the kids to bed and have a few much-needed chuckles to break up the holiday stress, look no further than The Naughty List. This holiday-themed improv show held in the courtyard at Arnold’s Bar and Grill will bring off-the-cuff laughs based on audience suggestions. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased on the Know Theater’s website. Check out the Facebook page for more info.
 


New fine art gallery adds to Oakley's diverse, growing scene


Located at 3078 Madison Rd. in the heart of Oakley Square, Caza Sikes offers art and fine craft featuring diverse media from regional artists. The gallery features monthly exhibitions, live music, a rentable event space and appraisals.

The gallery opened this fall after an 18-month renovation of the historic building that once housed a paint store.

Owner and licensed appraiser Evan Sikes says he wanted the space to change the concept of a gallery. It features both high-end and more affordable pieces from everything from paintings to jewelry.

Sikes describes his vision as an “approachable, affordable gallery with cool stuff.”

The gallery features a rotating group of artists that all use a diverse range of media. Along with a collection of different painters, Caza Sikes also features mixed media, jewelry, woodwork, ceramics, photography, fiber arts and glass.

During the month of November, the gallery is hosting a collection of paintings by Cole Carothers, which showcase a 40-year retrospective of his work while living in Cincinnati.

After its successful opening at the end of September, Caza Sikes plans to host more events and hopes to engage all members of the community, from younger visitors to those already very familiar with the gallery scene.

“We’re mixing it up a bit,” Sikes says. Along with displays, the gallery will host a series of events from jazz shows to bourbon tastings. These will start next month with a blues/jazz concert on Dec. 1.

What Sikes is really after is a representation of fine craft because there can be a lack of the diversity of media in traditional galleries. At Caza Sikes, a visitor can see and purchase jewelry, clothes made from recycled fabric, hand-made bowls, ceramic tiles and more.

“It’s been a long time coming, and a hard momentum coming up.”

Caza Sikes joins the art scene in Oakley, along with other venues like Brazee Street Studios, which offers a gallery, events and classes for all ages; Ombré Gallery, which specializes in contemporary art jewelry by art and metalsmiths all over the world; and Redtree Art Gallery & Coffee Shop, which showcases work from locat artsits and serves as a gathering space for the community.
 


Sixteen projects receive NOFA money from the City


Thanks to the City of Cincinnati's Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) program, 12 current and future local neighborhood projects will become the subject of funded development. 

NOFA allows developers, individuals, for-profit and nonprofit organizations to apply for city funds, which then allows them to create opportunities for homeownership and rental properties that have positive and lasting impacts.

This year’s NOFA funding totaled $6.4 million — $2 million more than last year’s — and has been awarded to 16 of 20 applicants. As a result, the city will see 528 new housing units, 80 percent of which will be classified as affordable.

It’s all part of PLAN Cincinnati’s goal: to provide vision for full-spectrum housing options to all individuals, regardless of income or stage of life.

“The City of Cincinnati wants quality, diversified housing options for all of our residents,” says Vice Mayor David Mann.“It is a pleasure to be able to incorporate $2 million in additional funding for affordable housing across our neighborhoods.”

Not only have these city funds increased, but funding from investors has exceeded city funding by a ratio of 16:1 for a total of $103.5 million, more than doubling the 2016 total and quadrupling that of 2014.

“Providing quality, diversified housing options for our residents is integral to our community development strategy,” says City Manager Harry Black. “Through these NOFA projects, we look forward to leveraging public-private partnerships to enhance the quality of life for thousands of residents across our neighborhoods."

Recipients of NOFA funding include the following:

  • Copelen/5 Points Alley project, Walnut Hills
  • Evanston HURC, 3476 Woodburn
  • Price Hill Homesteading
  • South Block Home, Northside
  • South Cumminsville Urban Village
  • Cedar Corridor Phase IIII, College Hill
  • Torrence Station, East End
  • Scholar House, E. Walnut Hills
  • Crosley Apartments, Camp Washington
  • Madison Villa, Madisonville
  • 821 Flats Housing, Over-the-Rhine
  • 1420 & 1422 Knowlton, Northside
  • 1714 Vine St., OTR
  • 57 E. McMicken, OTR
  • College Hill Revitalization
  • Halstead Apartments, Clifton/CUF
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