Dan Katz left his culinary ventures in New York City to start something new. He wanted a restaurant in a fun, welcoming environment and Cincinnati was just the place. But before he opens his restaurant, Meatball Kitchen, Katz is hosting pop-up dinners to see what people think of the food offered at his forthcoming establishment. As Katz continues his search for the perfect spot to open Meatball Kitchen, area foodies can keep up with the latest news on Facebook.
CityBeat: Why did you move from New York?
Dan Katz: I co-owned a French Bistro and American wine bar in NYC. My wife, Laura, grew up in Cincinnati and after visiting, I realized what a great place it is to raise a family. I am looking forward to adding my New York experience and energy to all the exciting stuff that is going on in the Cincy culinary community. I think Meatball Kitchen will be a perfect addition to the scene here.
CB: What inspired you to do these pop-up dinners?
DK: I've been thinking about this idea for a long time. My goal was to create a cravable, delicious take on the classic meatball. I want to raise the standard of typical fast food and bring delicious, affordable food to everyone. The pop-ups are a great way to introduce and test my concept. I want to be the great $5 sandwich place and feed the neighborhood.
CB: When is your restaurant opening?
DK: Soon! We are looking at locations around town. I have a great team ready to go and we are hoping to open by the end of the summer.
CB: Are you doing any more pop up dinners?
DK: Yes. The next one is June 12 at The Kitchen Factory in Northside. At the last pop-up, we introduced the diners to our core menu. At the next pop-up, we will serve one of the exciting rotating specials as well. We believe that we can turn any recipe into a meatball! Diners can follow us on Facebook to keep updated about this and other events.
CB: What are you most looking forward to when opening your restaurant?
DK: I am looking forward to feeding happy people. What's not to love about a fast, delicious, exciting, cheap and filling meal?
They have been talking about it since they were 15 years old. Now, about 15 years later, all it took was an evening stroll through some back alleys on the way to The Famous Neons Unplugged in Over-the-Rhine to stumble across the perfect spot for their new start-up, Collective Espresso.
Owners Dave Hart and Dustin Miller had always dreamed of opening a coffee shop together. Lifelong friends and Ohio natives, the two spent a few years on separate journeys living in and being inspired by different states along the West Coast and working in multiple restaurants and cafes along the way.
"We kind of just moved to Cincinnati with the plan that we would figure it out," Hart explained nonchalantly as he reached for a cup and saucer behind the bar. Cold November rain fell outside during our interview, but the coffee and conversation warmed the already cozy shop as I sat comfortably on a stool that Hart and Miller hand-made, at the rustic bar that they crafted out of an old barn door. Just like the simplicity of the shop's design, Miller explained that it's their goal to very simply, "make great coffee taste great."
"There are a lot of great natural things happening in this coffee," Miller explained, joining Hart behind the bar. "It's our job as baristas to make it look and taste awesome. We want the coffee to speak for itself."
The shop, on the brink of opening, will mainly serve Deeper Roots Coffee — which is local — and Quills Coffee from Louisville, Ky. However, since they have a multiple roaster format, they are excited that they have the freedom to serve anything that piques their interest.
I watched in awe as the duo made the perfect cup of coffee through a process known as the drip method. This procedure takes about two and a half minutes and is performed through several steps in a homemade set-up resembling a science lab experiment.
"Each cup of coffee is made-to-order," Hart explained as he smelled the complex aroma from the coffee. "We don't want to be so slow that it's frustrating to get a cup of coffee here, but we like the idea of people being able to chill out for a few minutes and have a real coffee experience."
There are many ways to get your caffeine fix at Collective Espresso including espresso, macchiatos, cortado, cappuccino, lattes and mochas. The average price for a drink is $2.50-$3.50.
Although they recognized some great coffee shops that Cincinnati already has to offer, Hart explained that they thought the Cincinnati coffeehouse scene was missing something — Collective Espresso. With seating arranged in a bar-like fashion, the shop provides a welcoming atmosphere to stop in, have a cup of coffee over the daily news (CityBeat, of course) and meet or catch up with neighbors.
"If people are as dorky about coffee as we are, we also want to be a place where people can explore different brew methods and learn about different coffees," Miller added.
Just as the perfect cup of coffee takes time, the finishing touches are being put on Collective Espresso. The shop, located at 207 Woodward St., (off Main Street) is expected to open very soon.
But the staff at Maribelle’s eat + drink has nothing to hide; in fact, they want you to see their kitchen.
Maribelle’s, which used to be located on Riverside Drive, is set to reopen Thursday at a new location on Madison Road in Oakley. Owners Leigh Enderle and Mike Florea wanted to create a restaurant that felt comfortable and open, so they redesigned the space that used to house Hugo to look like a kitchen at home.
The walls are now painted pastel yellow and green, and wooden chairs stand against high tables (designed by local architect Terry Boling) that look like kitchen islands. The kitchen line is completely exposed, as is the bar — so diners won’t be left wondering how the staff operates or how clean the kitchen environment is.
“Transparency is the concept we’re going for,” says Enderle. “We want people to know where their food comes from and how it’s made. We want them to understand the sourcing and we want them to understand how much work goes into the restaurant, too.”
Chefs at Maribelle’s will use hormone-free meat and seasonal
local ingredients for their American-fare menu items priced $8-15. Their
chicken and turkey products will come from Gerber Farms of central Ohio, and
their beer list will include domestic lagers, porters and IPAs. The restaurant will be open Tuesday-Sunday.
Maribelle’s staff thinks that everyone has the right to know where their food came from, and they invite diners to ask questions about their meals.
“I care about what I eat. Not all the time, but I do care,” says Enderle. “I care about where things come from, and I care that the animals are treated well. At Maribelle’s, we want to make sure we know the story behind the ingredients that we’re getting, and we want to make sure it fits into our concept of transparency.”