Asian Food Fest Returns to Washington Park This Weekend

Pho, Pad Thai, Nasi Lemak, Bibimbap. Great Asian cuisine can sometimes be hard to located with it being spread throughout Uptown, Northern Kentucky and northern suburbs like Fairfield or Springdale. However, this weekend many of the best Asian dishes will be available at the sixth annual Asian Food Festival in Washington Park.

This two-day extravaganza will celebrate and feature the diverse and tasty cuisines of Asian countries including Vietnam, Thailand, China, Korea, Malaysia and many more.

Created in 2010 by a diverse group of friends who wanted to spread their love of Asian food and culture, the festival has since been building awareness of the city’s diverse Asian population and food scene.

Over the past six years, the festival has showcased some of the city’s best Asian restaurants and chefs, while fostering connections between community members and local Asian-American organizations and businesses. Past vendors, such as Pho Lang Tang and Huit, have since started retail establishments in the center city; and festival organizers hope the event can play a bigger role in continuing to grow the local Asian food scene.

A new feature at this year’s festival is the “Secret Menu” booth, which will feature unique food from home chefs and aspiring food entrepreneurs.

“This is a special chance for foodies to get a taste of a homecooked Asian meal from local amateur chefs who are excited to share the food they grew up with,” Marketing Director Tessa Xuan told UrbanCincy. “We hope the Secret Menu chefs will gain enough experience to become independent vendors and even restaurant owners someday.”

New vendors this year include Hawaiian food stand Ono Grindz, Clifton-based carryout spot Thai Express, and the West Chester-based Filipino restaurant Dai Trang. And, of course, many crowd favorites will be returning, including the Indonesian Fusion restaurant Huit BBQ, Taiwanese bubble tea cafe Boba Cha, and Red Sesame – the food truck famous for their Korean BBQ Tacos.

Admission to the festival is free, but donations are encouraged – proceeds from the festival will go towards supporting the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Asian American Cultural Association of Cincinnati (AACAC), and to host future Asian cultural events throughout the region.

Asian Food Fest will be held at Washington Park in Over-the-Rhine this Saturday and Sunday. Hours on Saturday are from 4pm to midnight, and Sunday from 12pm to 8pm. The event is free and open to the public, but dishes from vendors will range from $2-$6.

The festival is easily accessible from #21, #64, #78 & #46 Metro bus routes and Cincy Red Bike with a station in the park.

Free and Cheap Things To Do in Cincinnati This Holiday Season

It may be getting cold outside but there are still plenty of great things going on for the Holidays and through Winter in the urban core and around the region. Bridgett Raffenberg at 365 Cincinnati has a comprehensive breakdown of things to do that are fun and won’t break the holiday budget. More at 365 Cincinnati:

It may be cold and it may just snow…. perhaps a few of these fun free and cheap winter things to do in Cincinnati will help you get out and enjoy our fine city!


Findlay Market Ready to Work With Developers Poised to Transform Area Around It

The area in Over-the-Rhine south of Liberty Street has seen hundreds of millions of dollars of investment poured into it over the past five to seven years. The part of the 319-acre neighborhood north of Liberty Street, however, not so much.

While this makes sense for a number of reasons, especially considering that is where Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC) placed their initial focus, it is a bit odd that one of the region’s landmarks – Findlay Market – was largely spared investment throughout this entire period. Yes, Ohio’s oldest public market saw gains in terms of sales and number of shoppers, but the area surrounding the 162-year-old market sat essentially untouched.

This is about to change.

With 3CDC acquiring a collection of properties from the City of Cincinnati surrounding Findlay Market, visitors to that area will soon see new life in the form of apartments, shops, offices and restaurants.

One of the earliest projects to be announced is the $14 million redevelopment of an entire block of Race Street that will be led by Model Group. When announcing the project to the public, the Walnut Hills-based development company also stated that the project would include a small grocery store.

With this project marching forward, and several others looming, how exactly does Findlay Market – the area’s longtime anchor – fit into the picture?

“The Corporation for Findlay Market expects to be heavily involved in all the new retail, working with property owners on product mix,” said Joe Hansbauer, President and CEO of Findlay Market. “We will be careful to make sure that competition exists, without diluting.”

With retail traditionally following the arrival of new residents, developers will need to take to ensure that appropriate demand exists in the area before introducing too much new retail. According to Hansbauer, that is already being considered, even with the potential arrival of a new grocery store across the street from Findlay Market.

“We are directly involved in the discussions, and even introduced the proprietor to Model Group,” Hansbauer explained with regard to the new grocer expected to come online with the development. “The concept will only work if what they offer compliments and fills holes in the product offerings of the market.”

He says that this has been a long-standing issue, with potential customers skipping trips to Findlay Market due to the inconvenience presented by not offering all of what they want or need. The idea is that additional retailers can help capture some of these missed shoppers now, thus adding to the customer base for existing vendors.

One of the biggest opportunities for the area, with the addition of new residents, office workers and shops, is the possibility for more activity during the weekdays and weekday evenings. As of now, these are some of the slowest times for vendors.

“Once it is proven that there are customers and business to be had, adjustments will be made,” Hansbauer emphasized. “As the neighborhood gets populated with office and residential, there will be higher demand for later hours.”

In a nod to the significant progress made over recent years, he went on to note that is was not long ago when Findlay Market was only three days per week, not six as it is presently, and had much more limited hours of operation. But in order to take the area to the next level, Hansbauer believes it may not just be food that helps drive the change.

“I think there is a lot of opportunity for complimentary retail near the market. We think the Findlay Market area will be a retail district in a similar way that Vine Street has become a restaurant district.”

With track work and stations being completed around Findlay Market right now for the Cincinnati Streetcar, it is not difficult to see the near future where those districts are seamlessly connected to one another, and other destinations that lie further south in the central business district.

PHOTOS: First Phase of Pendleton’s $26M Broadway Square Development Taking Shape

The first phase of Broadway Square in Pendleton is on schedule for completion later this fall. Recently, UrbanCincy had a chance to tour the construction of the project.

This is the first of three phases in the $26 million Broadway Square development. The buildings are being developed by Model Group, and the leasing of the retail and office space is being managed by Urban Fast Forward. Once completed, phase one will include 39 market rate apartments, 8,000 square feet of office and four retail spaces.

The development is located close to Horseshoe Casino and is adjacent to the recently renovated Spring Street Plaza & Playground and “multi-sensory and interactive” Spinnradl sculptures.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

EDITORIAL NOTE: All 17 photos were taken by John Yung for UrbanCincy in late July 2014.

Eli’s Barbeque, Maverick Chocolate First of Several New Tenants to Open at Findlay Market

Findlay Market business leaders and city officials gathered this morning on Elder Street to announce two new tenants that will soon open.

One of the new establishments will be the wildly popular Eli’s Barbeque, while the other is called Maverick Chocolate, which is a craft chocolate maker that will produce its product direct from cocoa beans at the shop.

The announcement comes following a several month-long renovation of three store fronts on the south side of the Market House. According to Findlay Market management, the City of Cincinnati’s Department of Trade & Development contributed approximately $500,000 to “whitebox” the three spaces – each of which is around 1,000 square feet in size.

“We’ve had a pretty significant amount of interest in these spaces, especially the final one of the three remaining,” Joe Hansbauer, President and CEO of Findlay Market, explained to UrbanCincy.

Findlay Market Storefronts

Hansbauer says that concept behind Maverick is similar to the craft coffee movement that emerged several years ago, and explained that this will be the first bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturer in Ohio.

Meanwhile, business leaders say that the real exciting thing about Eli’s, aside from the fact that they are returning to the place where they got their start years ago, is that they will stay open until 9pm six days a week.

“This will create an opportunity to generate a little more activity in the evening,” Hansbauer said. “We’re talking to some other tenants, mostly on the exterior of the Market House, where they may stay open later as well.”

While interest has been extremely high in the lone remaining space in between Eli’s and Maverick, Findlay Market management says that they are being selective with the eventual tenant for that space, and are hoping to fill it with something that is not already available at the market.

When asked what kinds of places they are seeking out, Hansbauer said that Findlay Market would love to add a smoked meat place that does their production on-site, a cookware store to compliment the market’s retail offerings, and a Hispanic grocer to help fill a gap in available food offerings.

A big goal, however, is to increase the amount of foot traffic and business activity on the quiet south side of the Market House, and improve visibility for existing businesses like Saigon Market and others.

Over the coming months, Findlay Market shoppers can expect even more changes as additional storefronts are built out on that side of Elder Street. Once all of this work is complete by the end of the year, Hansbauer expects all of the storefronts on the south side of the Market House to be occupied, with the exceptions of Luken’s cold storage building and Mr. Pig building.

One of the more prominent spaces he expects to fill up soon is the storefront at the corner of Race and Elder Streets, where the owners are looking for a café to set up shop.

“All of this will do a tremendous amount for creative foot traffic and creative vibrancy on that side of the market,” Hansbauer emphasized.

Since taking his post at Findlay Market last January, Hansbauer says that one of the challenges has been the growth in popularity of Ohio’s oldest public market. He says that there is constant interest in people wanting to open up stands inside the Market House, but no room for them to go since it is fully leased.

As a result, management and city leaders will be looking to expand the retail footprint out into the surrounding neighborhood.

“People are interested in buying and eating local, and that push has driven a significant increase in shoppers for us over the past couple of years,” Hansbauer concluded. “But the renaissance of Over-the-Rhine continues to benefit Findlay Market not only due to all the new residents, but also with those former shoppers who are feeling comfortable once again with coming to this neighborhood.”

Both Eli’s Barbeque and Maverick Chocolate signed three-year license agreements for their spaces. The third space included in this project is currently available and those interested in it can contact Joe Hansbauer at or 513-604-7567.