Cincy NewsCincinnati News

Doscher’s Candies moving headquarters, production
Feb 22, 2017, 4:47pm EST  Tom Demeropolis Senior Staff Reporter Cincinnati Business Courier

Doscher's Candies LLC is moving its operations from downtown Cincinnati to an historic home in Newtown. Doscher's purchased 6926 Main Street and the adjacent 3530 Church Street at the end of 2016 for $875,000.  The home, which sits on more than 1.7 acres, will be used for the company's operations and candy production.  The 1820s-era home was most recently the site of Brylan's Coffee House.
Previously, all of the manufacturing was done at its headquarters at 24 W. Court St., where it has operated for about 80 years. The company has 10 employees.
Al Neyer is designing and building a more than 8,300-square-foot production kitchen space behind the home. Once complete, Doscher’s plans to offer tours of the candy company, which is famous for its candy canes and French Chews.
“This new home in Newtown allows us to make candy canes year-round and modernize a business with a proud heritage of six generations of ownership,” S. Christian Nielsen III, CEO of Doscher’s, said in a news release.
Al Neyer is preparing the site for construction this week. The downtown design-build development and construction company’s design team integrated architectural features reminiscent of a rustic barn for the production facility. Construction is expected to be complete in August or September of this year.
Nielsen also is chairman of Al Neyer’s board and the company's former CEO.
Doscher’s was founded in 1871 by Claus Doscher. It still makes its candy canes using real peppermint oil and preparing small batches in copper kettles. Doscher also developed the French Chew, a chewy nougat-like candy that Doscher’s makes in more than a dozen flavors.

So what exactly happened to Skyline's crackers?

Cincinnati has been aflutter with gossip about Skyline Chili's beloved oyster crackers.

When the small bowl of crackers appears the change is noticeable immediately as the new crackers are more golden brown than the softer white gems of the past.
The newcomers are saltier and crunchier, too.

So why change?

Skyline Chili's previous cracker supplier changed business models and Skyline has transitioned to a new baker, Skyline spokeswoman Samantha Molony said.
The Skyline Chili oyster crackers sold in stores will also be transitioning to the new baker.

"We appreciate a customer base that is so loyal that they’re expressing thoughts about our crackers," Molony said. "Both Skyline and our new baker are focused
on high product quality and consistency of experience.

"We have been working with our baker to ensure our customers are happy and get the crackers they love."

New Graeter's flavor is ...
Polly Campbell , 12:05 a.m. ET March 1, 2016
The inspiration for Graeter's newest ice cream flavor was very close at hand: in the Graeter's bakery department.   The newest flavor from the Cincinnati-based ice cream maker, introduced today, is called Cheese Crown.
It captures the elements of Graeter's popular Danish pastry, the cheese crown. A rich cream cheese base is studded with bits of frozen pastry and a hint of cinnamon. It's sweet but rich, with a flavor much like cheesecake.
"We've been wanting to feature a bakery item in an ice cream," said Bob Graeter, Vice-President. "And if you're going to pick a pastry, it made sense to be our number-one selling Danish roll." The key was finding all the right elements to make it work, especially a base that gave it the cultured, tangy flavor of cream cheese and a hint of the fondant icing.
The flavor was tested as a bonus flavor last summer, and did very well, selling out within a week. "That's how we test experimental flavors," said Graeter, "and people really liked this one." It will now be a permanent ice cream choice, to be found in the shops and in pints. It will be distributed to regional grocery locations, though not in all 6,500 locations that sell Graeter's nation-wide.
The cheese crown may not be a Cincinnati-only pastry, but they are especially popular here, as is their larger sibling, the cheese pocket coffee cake. Elsewhere, a similar pastry is more likely to be called a cheese Danish. "We might have to do a little education on what a cheese crown is," said Graeter. He suggested that the ice cream version would be good with a fruit topping, such raspberry, pineapple or raspberry.

Graeter's has a new ice cream flavor
Bob Strickley , 1:07 p.m. ET Jan. 21, 2016
Graeter's has a new seasonal flavor of ice cream for the month of January. Please do not attempt to eat your computer screen or mobile device.
That new flavor is Chocolate Coconut Almond Chocolate Chip.
The Cincinnati favorite invites fans to try the "mouth-watering of grated coconut and crisp almonds mixed into our chocolate ice cream, made perfect with the addition of our gourmet milk chocolate chips."  You can purchase the new flavor here during January or find the nearest store in Cincinnati.
Have you tried our seasonal flavor, Chocolate Coconut Almond Chocolate Chip? What do you think?
— Graeter's Ice Cream (@graeters) January 21, 2016

Findlay Market Magic

We already knew it, but Findlay Market being named a "Great Place in America" by the American Planning Association is the type of external confirmation that Cincinnatians appreciate.
Findlay Market in Over-the-Rhine was one of five Great Public Spaces the group named to its annual list in October.
The American Planning Association compiles the list as part of its recognition of October being National Community Planning Month.
"Public marketplaces such as Findlay Market serve as more than just a place to buy food and groceries," Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black said. "They are the center of social life for a community. In many ways, the history of Findlay Market tells the story of Over-the-Rhine. The resurgence of this historic neighborhood is reflected in the longstanding character of this market.”
Findlay Market's nonprofit operator, the Corporation for Findlay Market, will host an event Oct. 14 at 1 p.m. to celebrate its award. The event, which will be open to the public, will be held in the Farmers Market Farm Shed, with speakers from Findlay Market, the city of Cincinnati and the American Planning Association. Food and drinks from the market will be served.
In order for a space to be considered for the American Planning Association's award, it has to:

  • Promote human contact and social activities.
  • Be safe, welcoming, and accommodating for all users.
  • Have design and architectural features that are visually interesting.
  • Promote community involvement. 
  • Reflect the local culture or history. 
  • Relate well to bordering uses.
  • Be well maintained.
  • Have a unique or special character.
Check all of the above.
Jan Schaefer, center, and Phyllis Konerman, right,Buy Photo
Jan Schaefer, center, and Phyllis Konerman, right, both of Delhi Township, smile at George Roth, while shopping, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016, at Findlay Market in Over-the-Rhine. The market was recently name one of five Great Public Spaces by the American Planning Association.  (Photo: The Enquirer/Kareem Elgazzar)
"The market is the most diverse place in the city," said Joe Hansbauer, president and CEO of the market's nonprofit operator. "You will find people of every age, race, income level, religion and political persuasion all gathering together at the same time, and to use the market in the same way. It's the beauty of Findlay Market."
Findlay Market is the only surviving municipal market house of the nine public markets operating in Cincinnati in the 19th and early 20th century, according to the market's nonprofit operator, the Corporation for Findlay Market. The market house is built on land donated to the city by the estate of Gen. James Findlay and Jane Irwin Findlay.
Today, the market is home to 42 full-time individual merchants and more than 50 outdoor vendors and farmers on Saturdays and Sundays.

Here are the other places the American Planning Association honored this year:

  • Golden Heart Plaza – Fairbanks, Alaska
  • Central Park Plaza – Valparaiso, Indiana
  • Guthrie Green – Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Fairmount Park – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Since launching the Great Places in America program in 2007, the organization has recognized 260 neighborhoods, streets and public spaces around the country.


Cincinnati chili parlor named one of nation’s best

By Andy Brownfield
Reporter- Cincinnati Business Courier
March 12, 2014

The name Skyline is synonymous with Cincinnati-style chili, especially when talking to out-of-towners, but the venerable chain and late-night staple of Clifton Heights revelers leaving the bars at closing time was passed over for a more neighborhood-focused spot when a national magazine chose its top 13 chili parlors across America.
Camp Washington Chili was named one of the nation’s best chili parlors by Travel + Leisure magazine in its March 2014 issue.
The magazine writes on its website: “More than 140 chili parlors may vie for meaty dominance in Cincinnati’s metropolitan area, but Camp Washington is the one to beat. Despite 70 years of service and recognition from James Beard and the Smithsonian, this down-home diner remains decidedly of the people. And what the people want is its mild, sweetly spiced beef chili served in the classic Cincy way: on top of spaghetti, with a handful of bright yellow cheese and optional beans or chopped onions.”
Camp Washington Chili was listed 13th on the website’s slideshow, though that doesn’t appear to be an indication of the quality of our chili. Certainly it beats out tuna chili made with ahi out of Winter Park Fish Co. in Orlando. And can we mention how Real Chili in Milwaukee blatantly ripped off Cincinnati’s 3-ways with its “Marquette Special” that consists of “fine-ground beef served over spaghetti and beans, then finished with a dollop of sour cream and fistful of shredded cheddar; oyster crackers, onions, and vinegar optional”?


Graeter's debuts first new product lines in almost 70 years

Tom Uhlman | Cincinnati Business Courier
Erin Caproni | Digital Producer | Cincinnati Business Courier
January 15, 2014 || Updated: January 17, 2014

Rich Graeter, CEO of Graeter's Inc., said the company's new gelato and reduced sugar ice cream offerings represent the first full product lines it has debuted since the 1950s when it added chocolate chips to their ice cream.  The company has decided to begin making gelato and launch a line of reduced sugar ice cream called "A Little Less Indulgent" for people who have health issues that limit their sugar intake.
According to Graeter, the family-owned business "has been making high-fat gelato and calling it ice cream" for a long time. Graeter's French pot production system uses the same process to make ice cream as gelato requires, just with cream instead of milk, so no new equipment had to be purchased. That system of creating ice cream isn’t used by other ice cream or gelato brands offered in grocery stores, Graeter said.
Gelato is distinguished from ice cream because of its lower fat content and a lack of air in the product. Federal regulations determine what products can be called ice cream and what is considered gelato based on the percentage of butter fat they contain.
Graeter's will begin offering four gelato flavors this week: vanilla with milk chocolate truffles, hazelnut with hazelnut-filled truffles, dark chocolate with dark chocolate-filled truffles and caramel with caramel-filled truffles. A family confectioner in Pennsylvania makes all of the truffles included in the line.
Graeter said the flavors in the gelato pop because they contain less fat and "they taste pretty decadent."
The second new line, called "A Little Less Indulgent", contains 50 percent less sugar, 25 percent less fat and 25 percent fewer calories than traditional Graeter's ice cream. It’s made using crystalline fructose and monk fruit.
Graeter said the company's top request for years has been for a reduced sugar product, and the line containing sugar-free chocolate chips will fit the bill.
"People who are on sugar-restricted diets deserve dessert, too, and deserve Graeter's for them," Graeter said.
The line will include vanilla, chocolate chip and mint chocolate chip when it rolls out at Graeter's locations this week.
Both the gelato and reduced sugar ice cream will be available in Greater Cincinnati Kroger stores by the end of the month, and all of the flavors will be sold for the same price as Graeter's traditional ice cream. Other retailers are expected to add the new products in March.

Dean Gregory’s favorite – and scariest – memories at Montgomery Inn Boathouse

By: Tom Demeropolis
Reporter- Cincinnati Business Courier
Mar 4, 2014, 11:16am EST

Dean Gregory, vice president of Montgomery Inn, has a hard time believing the Boathouse has been open for a quarter of a century.
“It still feels like it was just yesterday,” Gregory said.
This past weekend, Montgomery Inn Boathouse celebrated its 25th anniversary. Since its opening in 1989, the restaurant has been one of the busiest in the nation. It has served 14 million guests and still cooks up 500,000 pounds of ribs every year.
For a number of years, it was ranked as one of the top 100 independent restaurants in the U.S. in terms of annual sales and customers.
And it’s hosted everyone from politicians, like Speaker of the House John Boehner, to celebrities, including Bob Hope, Bill Cosby and Cameron Diaz.
When the Boathouse, located at 925 Riverside Drive, first opened, Gregory said he’d work at the restaurant until 3 a.m., then be back the next day to do it all again starting at 8:30 or 9.
“It was scary as hell. It was overwhelming from the start,” he said. “That first year, if it wasn’t for adrenaline, I never would have made it.”
The Boathouse never would have happened if most of the Gregory family had its way.
The family, who'd been meeting in 1987 and 1988 about building the 700-seat restaurant, voted, 5-to-1 against opening the Boathouse. The only vote in favor was “Ribs King” Ted Gregory, the late co-founder of Montgomery Inn.
“My dad said, ‘too late, I already signed the lease,” Dean Gregory said.
Dean, along with his siblings Tom, Vickie and Terry and their spouses, all work in the family business.
The menu at the Boathouse, or the other Montgomery Inn locations in Fort Mitchell, Dublin, or the original in Montgomery, is about 90 percent the same as was featured in the 1960s.
“Continuity is key, no surprises,” Gregory said.
That doesn’t mean Montgomery Inn is standing still. In an effort to attract younger diners, the company hired Dooley Media, a social media marketing firm..
“We’ve got a great Facebook page, but we realize that isn’t enough,” Gregory said.
Gregory’s favorite memory of working at the Boathouse was from Riverfest in 1994. It was the first year the restaurant honored the United Service Organizations by hosting 1,000 people at the restaurant. The choir was supposed to start singing before the riverfront fireworks festival started, but the program was running late.
“There were 60, 70 guys singing, and the fireworks went off,” Gregory said. “It was like it was choreographed that way. It was incredible, such a great night.
Gregory’s scariest memory at the Boathouse came a few years later, during the flood of 1997. The river was one foot from coming in the dining room floor of the Boathouse. The basement, which was used for storage, was completely underwater. The water rose so fast they couldn’t get anything out before it was flooded. The restaurant was closed for nine days.
“The water was so fast, so furious,” Gregory said.

Dec 31, 2013, 7:00am EST Updated: Jan 8, 2014, 12:38pm EST
Frisch's Big Boy breaks up with Coca-Cola

Frisch's Restaurants Inc. is making a change to its offerings that has many customers up in arms.  The company confirmed on its Twitter account on Monday it will no longer be offering Coca-Cola products.  "All of our restaurants are currently making the switch from Coke to Pepsi products including Dr. Pepper," @FrischsBigBoy tweeted in response to another Twitter user.  Several customers responded, some saying the change would keep them from returning to the restaurants. Similar comments were made on the company's Facebook page.  The switch will be completed by the end of January, Karen Maier, the company's vice president of marketing, told WCPO. She said the transition began when a new restaurant was opened in Lexington earlier this month.  Maier said Pepsi gave the chain a better deal than Coke and will allow the restaurants to serve Dr. Pepper and Mountain Dew in addition to traditional cola offerings.

Jul 22, 2013, 3:44pm EDT
Bengals to sell Queen City Sausages at Paul Brown Stadium

Queen City Sausages will be served at Paul Brown Stadium this season.  Cincinnati Bengals fans will have a new brand of sausages to chow down on while they watch their team play this season.  The Bengals have signed a marketing deal with Queen City Sausage Co. to sell the Cincinnati company’s bratwursts and mettwursts at Paul Brown Stadium concession stands this season.  “Their products are well-known for their quality, and we look forward to our fans having the opportunity to enjoy them at Paul Brown Stadium this season,” Bengals Executive Vice President Katie Blackburn said in a news release.  This isn’t Queen City President Elmer Hensler’s first foray into sports marketing. He signed a three-year deal to sell sausages at the Cincinnati Reds’ Great American Ball Park before the 2010 season, too.


Can Cincinnati's chains keep on feeding the masses?

Tom Demeropolis
Reporter-Cincinnati Business Courier
July 24, 2013

Every day, same story: At the downtown Chipotle, the lunchtime line snakes around the restaurant and onto Fountain Square.
The office workers don’t seem to mind long waits for barbacoa burrito bowls or grilled chicken tacos. “I try to time it when it’s not as busy,” said Josh Diedrichs, a trust officer with Fifth Third Private Bank, who waited just the same. “It’s definitely worth it.”
A similar scene plays out next door at Panera Bread. Folks queue in long lines for Fuji apple chicken salads and Sierra turkey focaccia. As she waited, office worker, Megan Rieger, called Panera simply a “fast, healthier alternative.”
Alternative to what, exactly? For Cincinnati’s homegrown chains – including Skyline, LaRosa’s and Frisch’s – the answer is exactly the problem. Too many diners now see them as the second choice.
The stakes for Cincinnati are high: Local chains employ thousands of workers, including scores of top-level executives, and bring in a combined revenue of about $700 million.
So what exactly is happening? It’s called “fast casual.” Chipotle and Panera – and booming chains like Five Guys burgers – are in this restaurant category. Fast casual was merely on the fringes a decade ago, but it’s now exploding.
These places promise fresher food and a better atmosphere. In exchange, you pay more. Fast-casual checks average about $10.
Since 2007, revenue at fast casuals has quadrupled: Chipotle sales are up 150 percent over that period; Panera, 70 percent and Five Guys a whopping 470 percent.
Cincinnati-based chains know all about fast casuals. In fact, any chain not in fast casual is on high alert, said Bonnie Riggs, restaurant analyst with NPD Group.
“They’re all worried,” she said. “(Fast-casual chains) are stealing visits.”
In the six years since 2007, sales at Cincinnati chains have been flat; growth during that time ranges from 4.5 percent at LaRosa’s Pizzeria to -7 percent at Gold Star. (Separately, annual growth rates are shown above.)
“Restaurants were caught flat-footed,” said Paul Barron, author of “The Chipotle Effect.”
“This is no longer a gimmick. This isn’t sprinkles on cupcakes. This is the evolution of the food consumer.”
For Cincinnati chains, like all the others, the fight for diners will only get tougher. Fast casual restaurants, after all, aren’t creating new customers. It’s a zero-sum game.

Cincinnati strategies

Some have plans to fight back, including LaRosa’s, Frisch’s Restaurants Inc. and Gold Star. (Skyline officials wouldn’t comment for this story, saying they don’t comment on the restaurant industry in general.)
At LaRosa’s, the family-owned company competes against national chains in two categories: It delivers pizza and offers casual dining. Sales rose 8 percent last year. President Mark LaRosa said the company has no plans for big changes.
“We keep an eye on the competition,” LaRosa said. “But we stick with what our customers expect and what we do well.”
LaRosa’s is trying to keep up with customers’ tastes, especially in terms of freshness and unique ingredients.


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