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The Main Attraction

Main Street rebounds as another downtown center for the body, mind, home and stomach

By Christine Mersch · October 6th, 2010 · CityLiving
Cincinnati’s Main Street, as do most Main Streets in other towns, stretches right through the heart of the city. Most people cross it to go to baseball games or cross under it on the highway. Head north, and you’ll pass by the old Cincinnati Gas & Electric Company building on Fourth, the Ohio Bookstore and the county courthouse.

Almost 10 years ago, I used to take taxis here on the weekends to go to bars like Have a Nice Day Cafe or Japp's. A marriage and a baby later, I rarely have the chance to visit OTR stretch of Main Street, but this section is experiencing a revival to rival any going on in Over-the-Rhine.

Over the summer Dan Korman of Park and Vine fame announced he was moving his eco-friendly store to 1202 Main St. (You might recognize the Belmain building as the old Kaldi’s coffeehouse location.) One reason for the new space is to concentrate on creating a full vegan grocery store to offer fresh-pressed juices from Fab Ferments Kombucha and coffee and espresso beverages from La Terza.

“This is a beautiful and culturally alive area full of people who see potential in every corner of the neighborhood and are doing something about it,” says Korman, an Over-the-Rhine resident. “It’s an ideal place for budding entrepreneurs.”

[Note: Park and Vine is now open on Main Street. The Grand Opening celebration is Oct. 29 during Final Friday. Get details here.]

Other recent Main Street arrivals include Atomic Number 10, ForkHeartKnife, Jack Potts Tavern, Mixx Ultra Lounge, Original Thought Required, Neon’s Unplugged and You Do Yoga. Along with the newbies, there are still tried-and-true favorites that have been Main Street staples over the years. Here are some downtown locales to add to your “must-visit” list that are along the main drag.

For the mind

InkTank (1311 Main St., 513-421-WORD) has been serving local writers and cultural enthusiasts for years. The center offers writer’s programs, including recovery programs for men and women, open mic nights on the first Tuesday of every month and a book bank filled with local authors’ volumes. All programs are open to the community, or you can donate to InkTank by becoming a member or purchasing their magazine, Textures.

Envoi Designs (1332 Main St., 513-651-4229) is a graphics and interactive media firm with some big name clients on its list, including locals like P&G and the Cincinnati Preservation Association, as well as national clients like Disney and G.I. Joe. Their web site ( HYPERLINK "http://www.envoidesign.com/"www.envoidesign.com) is even fun to navigate.

Iris Book Café (1331 Main St., 513-381-2665) serves up good discussions, good books and even better sandwiches.

They also offer free wi-fi until 10 p.m. so you can look up something online to confirm your argument or just browse the web.

For the body

Original Thought Required (1307 Main St., 513-246-4362), also known as OTR (yes, name is cleverly the same as their neighborhood), sells unique streetwear-inspired men’s and women’s shoes and clothes. The distinctive shop sells fashion designs you won’t find at the mall, including items from Cincinnati labels like Sucka 4 Love and aTYPICALsOLE.

Atomic Number 10 (1306 Main St., 513-226-0252) is the place to go for vintage clothes, shoes and bags.

Yoga itself is experiencing a resurgence, especially thanks to movies like the summer blockbuster Eat, Pray, Love. You can hone your skills at the family-friendly You Do Yoga (1319 Main St., 513-227-7160), which offers Yoga and Pilates classes as well as meditation, martial arts, Reiki and Thai Yoga Massage Therapy. Just down the block is Main Street Yoga (1201 Main St., 513-703-4175), which offers Hatha and Ashtanga yoga as well as other seasonal events and workshops.


Cross over Liberty, and you’ll find Joyful Life Yoga (1601 Main St., 513-861-YOGA). Owner Sherry Joy (pictured above) offers a variety of classes in yoga, dance and therapy and will start offering Tai Chi and belly dancing in the fall. The store first opened in March 2010, but Joy hosted an official grand opening party Sept. 17-19.

“When I first heard about this space,” Joy says, “I had this vision of creating a corner of well-being, healthy living and just an eco-friendly place. When I heard Park   Vine was moving, I thought, ‘OK, let’s make it a district.’ I look at Dan’s business as an anchor store. It’s a big surge to the area.”

Joy adds that she loves the space itself thanks to the huge, old building and tin ceilings, not to mention the visibility she has being on the corner of Main and Liberty streets. She says she feels such a great energy in the area and is working to make Joyful Yoga as much a community meeting place as a yoga studio.

For the home

Classical Glass (1333 Main St., 513-381-4334) is the best spot for stained glass works of art. The eclectic shop offers stained glass for your home entry ways, bathrooms and varied windows as well as paintings that look perfect in your abode. These beautiful, delicate designs stand in churches and homes around the Tristate area. You can also stop here to repair and restore your existing stained glass windows.

And for the stomach

I’m pleased to report that the carb-coma inducing (and loving every minute of it) Shadeau Breads is alive and well (1336 Main St., 513-665-9270). They open their doors at 6 a.m. during the week and 7:30 a.m. on Saturday to roll out their Old World-style breads and pastries. Besides the yeasty goodness you can find here, they also make breakfast sandwiches and soups “at the whim of the chef.” They sell their breads to many local restaurants, but why wait? Go to the source.

Another classic is the Courtyard Café on Main (1211 Main St., 513-723-1119). Downtowners might know this place by heart, but the bistro recently garnered citywide-attention when their Raspberry Cloud Pie won Taste of Cincinnati's “best damn dish” this year. After cutbacks, it's open now only during the neighborhood's successful Final Friday art walks.

We also heart ForkHeartKnife, a new and creative eatery at 1437 Main St. (513-381-3451). Headed by chefs Sierra Laumer and Leah Heisel, this diner serves up ever-changing dishes with fresh ingredients inspired by and bought at Findlay Market, another local mainstay.

For late night brews (and dancing), two local hot spot have evolved: Mixx Ultra Lounge and Jack Potts Tavern. Most people belly up to Mixx’s sushi bar for a quick bite before heading out to the dance floor, but they also have a pretty varied menu topped by flank steak, Tandoori chicken on pitas and tuna steaks. You can find them at 1203 Main St. (513-621-6499).

Across the street, Jack Potts sits comfortably in the old Jefferson Hall space at 1150 Main St. (513-827-9357). A staple during Bockfest, this fun bar is a great place for regulars and newbies to meet, share a pint and revel in Main Street’s rebound.



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