Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment

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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

This Party Scene is Gonna’ be Green (by Ben Petracco)

There is a great opportunity coming up to support the local education foundation. On March 3rd The Fort Thomas Education Foundation is hosting their annual dance at the syndicate to support the Teacher Grant Program. To date, the education foundation has been able to award over $300,000 in books, technology, equipment, and programs through the money raised in the events like this.

The theme of the night is not only dancing and fundraising, it is also “Be Seen Green”. You are encouraged to dress in a creative “green” outfit. Let your imagination run wild; dress as a leprechaun, Kermit the Frog, a large ficus tree, or Prince Fielder’s exorbitant baseball contract! Anything green and you’ll fit right in.

The tickets are $30 presale and after February 24th they are $40. You can buy tickets by contacting the office at 859-815-2004, by contacting a ticket captain throughout the community, or go to the FTEF website (listed below). The list of ticket captains are the following:

Ticket Captains:
Sally Muehlenkamp
Beth Otto
Kierston Gray
Angie Simons
Mick Lewis
Becky Manyet
Holly Collinsworth
Jeanie Herndon
Lisa Orem
Karen Gates
Theresa Spiess
Allyson Jones
Dave Osburg
Vickie Pelgen
Kristina Muholland
Tonya Tulley
Pam Brenner
Debbie Messmer
DeDe McNeal
Carla Grimm
Bobbi Jo Kraus
Christie Hosea
Julie Steppe
Tonya Weyer
Nikki Fennell
Jaime Hochleutner
Jean Farley
Jason Burgess
Kara Schneider
Ann Snider
Jessica Duke
Danielle Donelan
Adam Donelan
Bob and Becky Donelan
Diane Beach
Katie West
Michael Ann Jurgens
Gina Traylor
Karen McIntosh
Jen Kohl
Elizabeth McDougal
Joy Layman
Megan Abner
Maggie Mason
Shannon Thomas
Amy Hills
Michelle Tinkler
Dawn Laber

More information can be found at the Fort Thomas Education Foundation website:

If you’re looking for a fun night out and a way to support a fantastic cause mark your calendar for March 3rd at 8:00 p.m. Start brainstorming a green outfit and dust off your dancing shoes. It is sure to be a great night.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Police Presence at Kroger Marketplace/Target

It has happened to me a handful of times. I'm walking out of Kroger, maple turkey and Cheerios in tow, and I see someone waiting near the entrance, head down, hands in cuffs.

I guess its not necessarily surprising. Shrinkage in any retail situation is bound to happen. What struck me was, unless it was an uncanny coincidence, I have happened upon this scene about 5 different times.

I talked to a manager at Kroger's to cure my curiosity about how often this happens, what type of crime is occurring and if the police presence was having an impact.

According to the manager, there was an explosion of shoplifting when the store first opened. In her words, "they were catching people 4 to 5 times a week." Since then, Kroger has worked with Newport Police, who know have a car parked on the lot much of the time.
Kroger has also hired private security for every weekend and at night. Even with the security the company has hired, according to the manager "there still seems to be about one arrest a week."

The most interesting nugget from our conversation came when the manager told me the biggest issue, other than the shoplifting, was that the back parking lot was being used as a rendezvous point during drug deals. "Because of the proximity to the highway and the state line, the police told us our store was a convenient location. The police know the situation and seem to have it under control at this point."

Let's hope so. Has anyone else seen or heard anything like this?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Downside of an Active Community

I have mentioned many times about how I think it is great that we have such an active community. I love that there are always people out and about and I love that it reinforces a healthy and active culture.

However, I think it may be time for a refresher on etiquette of a healthy lifestyle and its collision (pun intended) with the rules of the road. Perhaps these will resonate with you or you have a personal experience with some of these:
  1. Streets are for traffic or parking – I understand that asphalt is better on the knees than concrete sidewalks but please use the sidewalks or go grab a treadmill.
  2. Be aware of your surroundings – running with traffic while wearing your headphones is a recipe for disaster. You may want to hear horns or sirens so you can get out of the way of them.
  3. Visibility is key – Please wear reflective or light colored clothing. I admit that I like to get my workout in dur\\ing odd times which means early morning basketball / racquetball and even running if that is what I am into at the time. But if you are going to run at 5am or 11pm please wear clothes that allow others to see you.
  4. Be aware of intersections – since we are talking about visibility, try running behind cars that are ready to pull  of intersections instead of running in front of them and assuming that everyone can see you
I understand that it is the driver’s responsibility to watch out for pedestrians but when you are running in the street at 11pm in dark clothing with headphones blaring and expecting someone to see you who is pulling off a side street is akin to letting your drunk Uncle Bob from Eastern Kentucky try out his new bow and error by shooting an apple off your head.

My advise isn’t just for runners – I have a few pointers for those on bikes as well. Keep in mind that I have many
of these same conversations with many of my friends who are avid cyclists and many times we have to agree to disagree:
  1. All rules apply equally - A common complaint of cyclists is that drivers do not respect them as equals on the road. However, if you are on a bike and you want to be treated equally then obey the same traffic signs and signals that drivers obey.
  2.  I know it is a lost art but there are actually hand signals that can used in luau of actual electronic turn signals and lights. This isn’t just directed at bikers but also younger drivers who are unaware that such signals exist. I have included a short video below as a refresher….

Friday, January 27, 2012

Van Damme It's Friday Links

-Brian Robinson, the principal at HHS, provided Ben these videos to supplement his story about the time capsule unearthed in the renovation at the High School.

- Had an interesting photo posted on our Facebook page regarding the hypocrisy of our city officials who implore Ft. Thomas residents to shop Ft. Thomas businesses, then use companies outside of the city. I'll follow up with a post on this next week.

- A few new restaurants are/have opened. Mio's should be opening soon and The New Garden opened (I think) on Monday for the Chinese new year.

- The Griswold Decoration Challenge Winner is in (and yes, I know it's late January and we should have already posted it). Chris Lecky, c'mon down! You've won a 5-day supply of burgermania burgers from the 915! That's a long way to say you won a $25 gift card.

We hope as the holiday challenge gains popularity that more people will submit pictures and celebrate all the beauty that a decorated Ft. Thomas has to offer. Email me your address and let me know how I can get your prize to you.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Which Store Would you 'Cash Mob'?

Here is a great story out of Cleveland of how a community came together to support a small local retail store that had been open for 72 years but had struggled recently with a tough economy and large big box competition.  Sound familiar?  Watch the video (and / or read the article link above) and comment below with your pick of a Fort Thomas store to get ‘Cash-mobbed’

video platform video management video solutions video player

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Back to Fort Thomas News - Midweek Update

Mark vs Food wasn't the only thing that happened in the past week. Here is a quick rundown of all the other news around the area:

1. A Fort Thomas woman was caught in a wire fraud scheme from her business in Bellevue.  According to the article, Jennifer Groneck, 47, of Fort Thomas, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. Groneck acknowledged that she stole a combined $645,904.27 from various banks and a mortgage lender.

2. There is a flurry of activity in Frankfort right now with the General Assembly in session - to keep up with the latest check out these resources:
     - Bluegrass Politics (Lexington Herald Leader)
     - Kentucky Politics (former Fort Thomas beat writer Scott Wartman)
     - Kentucky Progress (conservative view)
     - Barefoot & Progressive (progressive view)

3. It was rumored that the New Garden is opening this week. Anyone been by or actually try it out yet? Keep your eyes open and be sure to grab some takeout on your way home.

4. Also, speaking of new eating establishments in Fort Thomas it appears that Mios is only a few short weeks from an open.  They have been cleared to open by the Board of Health and the Fire Department and are accepting applications on their Facebook page.

5. I am surprised at the poster child that Omega Processing Solutions has become in regards to Northern Kentucky's attempt at a technology hub. Don't get me wrong - I am excited to have an Inc 500 employer in our little community that was started by a Fort Thomas resident.  I am just surprised that a credit card processor is held up as our shining example of what the College of Informatics can do.

My last mention of Mark vs Food from this weekend - here is a video of the entire event...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mark vs. Food video from Fox 19

If anyone can find any others, please let us know!

The Highlands & UK Quarterbacks

Video of Will Chambers' interview with Patrick Towles and Jared Lorenzen.  It is very cool to see the mutual respect between the two and Jared's willingness to impart his experiences and lessons as an NFL quarterback.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mark vs. Food Recap

Well, I'm never eating again. Had an awesome turnout for our first Mark vs. Food feature. Many, many thanks to Jared Lorenzen, Patrick Towles and Will Chambers. Also, Raniero's Pizzeria for opening up on a day they are normally closed, and welcoming us so warmly. Also, to BW3's who also gave 10% of their sales to The Brighton Center. Can't wait until the new place opens up next door.

The official results of Mark vs Food are as follows:
  • Both teams lost to the pizza, as we could not best the 24 inch pie in the 10 minutes allotted.
  • There is now a picture of Will, Jared, Patrick and I on the Wall of Shame.
  • In an upset of stunning proportions, however, Will and I ate 4 more ounces of pizza that the HHS/UK QB duo.
I'll take it.

We should hear the totals that we were able to raise for The Brighton Center within the week, and we will be posting some interviews that we were able to get soon as well. But as I sit here, sipping on a Pepto bottle through a straw, listening (yes listening) to my lunch being digested, I'll post some links from other media outlets that were able to make it.

Thanks again to everyone who helped spread the word: 700 WLW, Channels 5, 9, 12 and 19, The Community Press/Recorder, Nky Spot,,, Lance McAllister and countless of my friends and family. It was awesome and I can't wait to do it again.
Make sure to look for us on all the local news outlets tonight as well.

Fifty Year Old Gift Un-Earthed (Guest Post by Ben Petracco)

Highlands High School has been going through an extensive renovation. The end result will be a brand new high school for students to enjoy for years to come. And finally air conditioning. During these renovations an unexpected gift was un-earthed that would shed light on a life a half century old.

A time capsule was discovered while the south building at the high school was being renovated. I contacted Brian Robinson, the current principal of Highlands High School, to ask about the details of the capsule.

Robinson explained “The time capsule was found as we replaced the cornerstone during our current exterior renovation. It was found sort of by accident. Since it was found in the building that replaced the original we decided to open it on the 50th anniversary of the fire itself.”

The fire, which occurred in 1962, decimated the south building. The building had to be rebuilt and was replaced by the building that now stands on the Highlands campus.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the fire a decision was made to open the capsule with the help of a special guest, former teacher and principal at Highlands High School, Mr. John Deering. Mr. Deering was on staff at the time of the fire, and provided unique insight for the students who interviewed him.

The capsule was opened on Friday January 6th in the theatre room at Highlands. The contents of the capsule included: pictures of students like Stephanie Meade Graves, a picture of the PTA, and other school related items from 1962.

Considering the capsule and its contents, the 50th anniversary of the school’s fire, and the backdrop of a freshly renovated high school; it puts it all in perspective. Highlands went through the fire, and emerged on the other side; emerging with pictures and keepsakes from a buried box to remind us of our treasured past, current accomplishments, and bright future.

If you would like to see the video of the time capsule being opened along with the interview of Mr. John Deering it is currently playing on public access channel 20.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Nky's Best Pizza Quest: Pasquale's

Van Damme, it's Friday. Below is the video from our most recent pizza quest to Pasquale's in Bellevue. We've got a lot going on this weekend, including Mark vs. Food this Sunday at Raniero's and BW3's in Cold Spring, so I'll post the rest of the review next week.

See everyone there at 1:00.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mark vs. Food, This Sunday!

Just a reminder, all proceeds we raise will be going directly to The Brighton Center. We are still looking for a corporate sponsor for all 10 events this year (email me at for details). You will receive a year-long ad on this website, get to help an organization that helped over 75,000 local families last year and we will make ourselves look stupid for you, all in the name of charity.

Come to Raniero's Pizza this Sunday at 1:00 to watch a combined weight of 565 pounds in Jared Lorenzen and Patrick Towles take on a staggering 335 pounds in Will Chambers and myself.

Since Raniero's is typically closed on Sundays, afterward, Buffalo Wild Wings (right next door) is hosting an after-party playoff watch shindig, where 10% of all food sales will go towards our cause.

So come Sunday at 1:00, watch two University of Kentucky QBs destroy two skinny guys in a 24-inch, 15 minute pizza explosion. If you haven't completely lost your appetite, stay for wings at BW3's for The Brighton Center.

We will have vouchers to turn in to your servers at BDubs when you pay, to make sure The Brighton Center receives credit. We should have a great turnout, but we'd love to have you there as well!

Journey Stories (Guest Post by Stephanie Class)

Hello! I'm Stephanie Class and I was born and raised in Ft. Thomas. After spending time working as a writer and filmmaker in Chicago and New York City, I am now back in town (sorry, but you couldn't get rid of me that easily). I often read Fort Thomas Matters when I was living in New York, and appreciated feeling connected to my hometown from miles away. I'm excited to be writing again and look forward to being part of the Fort Thomas Matters team.


Are you looking for a cultural and historical experience but don’t want to leave the comfort of your hometown to find it? Well, no need to worry; Journey Stories has taken over the Mess Hall through January 21st.

Journey Stories is part of the Smithsonian Institutions Traveling Exhibition Service and “shows how our evolving mobility changed a young nation and how transportation made us grow.” The exhibit is made up of seven different stations, which each depict a specific era in American history.

You start your trek through Journey Stories by catching up with the country’s first settlers and travel all the way through to modern day travel. Along the way you will encounter the Underground Railroad, Oregon Trail, World War II era trains, the Civil Rights Movement, and the beginnings of airplane travel (did you know the first stewardesses were all also trained nurses?). Each station contains interactive elements, photographs and artifacts. Some also feature oral histories that allow you to listen to personal stories while browsing around the station.

Journey Stories also boasts a large display of quilts and other various textiles, which wraps around the perimeter of the Mess Hall. Each item is accompanied by a description that contains historical background information and the identity of each quilt’s owner. Many of the items found in this display are on loan from Ft. Thomas families. You can find everything from handmade quilts to blankets made out of old t-shirts. One of my favorites was a white throw blanket made out of strings collected from trips to a local butcher (before supermarkets, butchers would tie their meat in strings for customers to transport home).

Journey Stories is open everyday from 12:00pm - 4:00pm until January 21st, so make sure you check it out before it closes its doors to the public. There are signs throughout Tower Park for Journey Stories leading you to the Mess Hall, and make sure to use the main entrance of the Mess Hall to access the exhibit (the doors facing the Amphitheater since the side door near the parking lot will be locked).

Monday, January 16, 2012

Teeter Tots - Controlled Chaos (Guest Post by Jessica Duke)

Everyone automatically assumes that if you have children it means you like kids. I like my kid, and I often, though not always, like other people’s kids. The screaming children at the Fort Thomas Recreation Department’s Teeter Tots, however, was nearly a Friday the 13th nightmare. That said, the chaos of the Fort Thomas Recreation Department sponsored Teeter Tots was relatively well controlled and generally positive.

Now that the Chicken Dance induced headache has subsided, I can calmly and coolly reflect on the positives. My son was able to exercise and develop his fine motor skills all the while interacting with other children in a comfortable indoor setting on a 22-degree day. He was able to dance, run, stretch, tumble on mats, play with bouncy balls, walk on a balance beam, and even play with a parachute. The music, although loud and echoing in that gymnasium, was age-appropriate and some of the older children were even singing along.

There were thirty or forty children plus their parents, and although the class holds up to 48, I do not believe it was full. But with only one teacher, she was essentially trying to herd cats. The skills of these children also varied widely (huge difference in motor skills between a two- and four-year old). The space where the class was held was certainly large enough since all three gyms were utilized for the chaos class.

Unfortunately, the chaos did not begin and end with the class itself, but seemed to be in the organization as well. Several good friends of mine (mothers of 22-month olds) were asked for their child’s birthday when attempting to register and were denied permission to join the class. However, on the day of the class, there were numerous children under two.

Likewise, I only recently heard about the class and it has been going on since September. That is not to say that they did not advertise well but as the stay-at-home mother of a 2 year-old, it would seem I am their target audience and I had not seen it.

That said, at only $18 for five sessions (you mean I have to go back four more times!?), the cheapskate in me appreciates the value. And, my son was quite sad to leave at the end of class, even waving goodbye to the bouncy balls through gritted teeth and a quivering chin. So, every Friday morning for the next four weeks I will be taking two Tylenol and taking my son to Teeter Tots. Hooray!

I’ll be sure to post a follow up after more classes.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

What's Happening in Fort Thomas (Guest Post by Beth Nyman)

Hi everyone - my name is Beth Nyman and I've lived in Fort Thomas for 11 years. I've been reading Fort Thomas Matters for about six months, and I'm delighted to have found a blog that specifically addresses Fort Thomas issues and keeps me in the loop with community news and events. 

I have 2 children, one at Johnson and another at Highlands. Over the years I have missed, forgotten, or never heard of many, many Fort Thomas events, both child-centric and not. I've seen photos in the local paper of fun events that had happened 2 months earlier (I'd never heard of them).

I've suffered the horrifying realization that I'd missed Touch-a-Truck for the second year in a row (nothing is more demoralizing for the mother of a truck-obsessed son to have to admit to that son that she missed Touch-a-Truck. Again.) 

I've often wished there was a one-stop calendar for all things Fort Thomas, a place where event information has been consolidated and where I could check in periodically and keep track of upcoming local events.  When Darrin Murriner posted a request for "a female voice", I decided that it was a sign, and I volunteered to create and maintain that calendar. 

This Fort Thomas event calendar appears here on FTM at the bottom of the webpage or by clicking the ‘Calendar’ link at the top of every page.  I will update it every Thursday by noon.  You can also see the events coming up in the coming week on the right-hand side of the page – just below the ‘Recent Comments’ section.

It will include any news and information I can dig up, and of course, I enthusiastically invite all suggestions from readers. If you have an event coming up or wish to have something entered on the calendar, please email me at Through the magic of the internet I hope you'll help me fill in the squares for 2012.  Happy New Year and see you at Touch-a-Truck!

Cipher Recovery Wins 2011 Best of Cincinnati Award

When our sponsors do well, our city does well. We try to keep our advertisers local and exclusive and Cipher Recovery is one of FTM's best supporters. (click the ad below to go directly to their company).

They were recently selected as the 2011 Best of Cincinnati Award in the business legal services category by the US Commerce Association (USCA).

The USCA "Best of Local Business" awards recognizes local businesses throughout the country. Each year, the USCA identifies companies that they believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in the local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and community.

The 2011 USCA Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the USCA and data provided by third parties.

CONGRATS to our partner, Kevin Welsch Cipher Recovery.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Fort Thomas Weekend News Update

1. The Fort Thomas Police Department late in the week issued an alert on catalytic converter thefts in Fort Thomas.  The e-alert mentions three recent thefts but doesn't indicate the part of town the thefts occurred in.  Be on the lookout for anyone working under a car in your area that seems suspicious. - UPDATE - I should have read Mark's post below.  Must have been Gettysburg Square

2. Now that the state's General Assembly is back in session there is a lot of news coming out of Frankfort that could impact Fort Thomas.  One of the biggest issues is the redistricting plan submitted this week and voted according to party lines.

An aspect of the plan that will help Northern Kentucky is more representation for the Boone, Kenton, & Campbell counties which means more political clout in Frankfort.

The other, and arguably more important to Fort Thomas, issue is the move of some Fort Thomas residents into Dennis Keene's district 67.  While I haven't seen the actual streets that will be moving from 68 to 67, suffice it to say that if you live near or overlooking the river you will probably be in the new district.

3. I noticed this week that Red Ear Brewing, which started at Vito's here in Fort Thomas was involved in a collaboration brew with Rivertown, Mt Carmel, & Morlein.  That is pretty good company to keep and while they have moved into space in Covington we still wish them the best since they are rooted in Fort Thomas.  I have included a picture of the beer on our Facebook page which they are apparently reading for the Cincy Beer Fest in early February.

Saturday Morning Hot Links

Morning everyone. Hope you have had your first cup of coffee and you are off and running. Here are your morning links:

- Mark vs. Food is gaining traction. Buffalo Wild Wings (right next to Raniero's in Cold Spring) will be donating 10% of all food sales to The Brighton Center Sunday, after our eating challenge. It's a great start, but we are still looking for a corporate sponsor for this feature so we can really help out our local charities in a big way. If you have any ideas, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me.

Cincinnati Bengals and Fort Thomas resident, Andrew Whitworth, I'm challenging you to bring your appetite and your Foundation, BigWhit77 to the forefront for this effort!

- Highlands United Methodist Church celebrates 40 Days of Love.

- All of the City Council seats are up for election in 2012. Any new council candidates or incumbent members who'd like to announce their intentions, I can think of no better platform than here.

- Fort Thomas Schools offer free parents' seminar on anxiety, depression and suicide.

- Planet Fitness (in the old Sears' Hardware) is going to give Fitworks a run for its money. With the supposed raised rents in the Newport Shopping Center, and the deal that Planet Fitness is offering ($1 down, $10/month, $29 annual membership fee), you have to wonder if the next tenant to be on the move will be Fitworks.

- Fort Thomas police are asking the public's help in finding a thief who's been taking catalytic converters from cars in the area of Gettysburg Square apartment complex.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Mark vs. Food

Writing for this website has been a blast. I've gotten to meet a lot of cool people, heard a lot of different opinions and rumors, and learned a lot about our city.

As our readership has grown and our reach seems to be getting bigger, I often wonder what direction Fort Thomas Matters will go. The pizza challenge was just an idea hatched with some buddies over some beers. After two months and some change, and 8 reviews, judging by the page views, people seem to like reading about the challenge.

Enter our newest feature. Mark vs. Food.

Don't get me wrong, I love reviewing the different pizza places surrounding Fort Thomas, but I asked myself how I could improve on the idea. Other than providing some entertainment to the FTM braintrust and our readers, what are we really accomplishing?

Mark vs. Food is a pizza challenge with a purpose.... stay with me.

I will be traveling around the area, seeking out the area's most notorious eating challenges. This feature will be in the same vein as Man vs. Food on the Travel Channel. Who am I kidding? We are completely ripping it off. Except for the fact that we are doing this for charities.

All of the proceeds that we receive from these challenges will be going to The Brighton Center and other local charities.

We are actually 10 days away from the first installment of Mark vs. Food, which will be held on Sunday January 22 at 1:00 at Raniero's Pizzeria in Cold Spring.

The challenge that I will be undertaking is actually a 2-person challenge. We will have 15 minutes to take down a 24-inch pizza. My partner in the challenge will be noneother that fellow skinny kid and voice of Georgetown College and the Nky Rivermonsters, Will Chambers.

We will be taking on former Highlands, UK and NY Giants QB Jared Lorenzen and Highlands QB and UK commit, Patrick Towles.

Mismatch? I doubt it. But if you'd like to see for yourself, make sure to make it out. We need a big crowd.

I'll be posting more information on this feature over the next few days. Can't wait to get it started.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fort Thomas - Mid-week News Update

1. The retail shake-up in continues in Newport as Payless has left the Newport Shopping Center and reported to be replaced by Ace Hardware.  Rumor is Payless wanted to stay but they are asking for higher rents.  The concept of raising rates at an aging retail center that is no longer the center of retail commerce for the area brings up an important question - can the Newport Pavilion raise the level of overall retail and rates for the entire area or does it cannibalize retail from surrounding areas?

This isn't even the tip of the iceberg in terms of movement in area retail and expect even more change to come as more places open in the Pavilion.

2. Highlands football had a few big updates this week as well

  • 2012 football schedule was released this week.  Any thoughts about the matchups?  The Trinity exhibition here could be a chance to see more D1 talent assembled on one team than you will ever see again.  Elder at home is the only real high profile game and they have been down the last couple years - not sure it packs the kind of punch necessary to make much of a splash nationally.
  • Patrick Towles is expected to be named a parade All-American on Sunday.  Another huge honor for our hometown and future UK quarterback.
  • Sheehan & Bruns are taking official visits at EKU

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

NKy's Best Pizza Quest: Pepperoncini's Pizza

I wasn't sure exactly where Pepperoncini's was located. Looking back on it, I'm sure I've driven by it on the way to coaching the Lady Hawks at Pendery Park hundreds of times and just not noticed it. But it was dark and I was sans Garmin. Heading down the newly repaired route 8 and into Silver Grove, I knew I had to be close.

As it turns out, Robert Brooks' (the owner) directions made it easy enough to find. Right before the Dari Bar, across the street from Lafarge (otherwise known as the big, ugly, green building).

Ben and I got there at the same time and parked in the gravel driveway behind the restaurant. We both thought the same thing: Are we in the right place? Even with the directions, from the parking lot, Pepperoncini's looked like nothing more than an unassuming single family home.

Atmosphere (1-10 scale): 7.5
Don't judge a book by it's cover. Inside is spacious, clean and updated. I didn't ask, but it's seems to be non-smoking. Brooks, 29, who has been in the pizza business since he first started working remodeled the space with his family.

The front bar area, which flows nicely into the dining room area, would be a great place to watch a game. It's not cramped, and has a nice feel to it. I'd describe it as mancave-chic. Cool enough to hang with your buddies, but classy enough for a date night.

Pepperoncini's also boasts a newly renovated second floor, which Brooks is hoping to use for rehearsal dinners, parties, booking bands, comedy acts, etc. Getting up the stairs could prove to be a little tricky, especially after a few libations, but it's definitely a diamond in the rough. The only downside is the location. It's actually not that far from Ft. Thomas, and they do deliver, but this is definitely a destination restaurant, as opposed to a local pizza joint.

Overall Pizza Taste/Selection: 8.2
Don't get me wrong, by calling Pepperoncini's a destination, I'm giving the place a huge compliment. Unless you have a rivercamp off of route 8, perhaps the only reason to head that direction was mentioned in my first paragraph. Pepperoncini's makes the soccer game, ice cream, pizza triumvirate complete.

The deep crust was a welcomed change. Maybe it was a coincidence, but it seemed like the majority of the non-chain pizza places have a thinner crust, which is often stone-oven baked. The thicker crust was buttery, had a nice crunch and seemed to be lightly brushed with a garlic butter.

The standard pepperoni was probably the best that the FTM braintrust had had. With the pepperoni on the outside of the cheese, the taste and quality of the ingredients has nowhere to hide. They were crispy and spicy. Everything you want on a pepperoni pie.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

No Oxymoron: Fun Library (Guest Post by Jessica Duke)

I'd like to introduce one of our new writers, Jessica Duke. She fills a niche that I feel our readers need. Let's welcome her! Without further adieu, here's her bio and first story:

Hi, my name is Jessica and I am thrilled to offer my input on Fort Thomas Matters. I was born and raised in Fort Thomas, graduated from Highlands High School in 2004, a year and a half after meeting my future husband, also a Highlands graduate.

I then attended and subsequently graduated from NKU and, after moving far, far away for one year (all the way to downtown Cincinnati), my husband and I bought a house back home in Fort Thomas where we raise our two year old son and await the arrival of our daughter Spring of 2012.

I am a stay-at-home mom now but before children worked in graphic design and still freelance between changing diapers. As a young, single-income couple, I take full advantage of the family- and budget-friendly activities in the area. As a writer for FTM, I hope to bring a woman's/mother's/cheapskates voice to the site and inform you about fun family activities.


Seven months pregnant with my first child, my husband would arise early, dancing and announcing to me, “if we have to be awake, we may as well dance.” My son, now two, lives this motto daily. This begs the question as to where I can take my son to express himself musically AND still be budget-friendly. The answer may surprise you: the library.

Like me, you may initially be thinking the last place you’d want to take your boisterous boy or gregarious girl is the library. A place known as much for the word “shh” as it is for VHS Tapes, five-cent fines, and those items that came before Kindles. But you’d be wrong! The library is not just an archetypal small-town stalwart, but a free place of learning and expression.

The Philip N. Carrico branch off Highland Avenue just underwent a major renovation and is now reopen to the public. They offer classes for newborn children through 12th graders. “Baby Time” is music-oriented rhymes, tummy-time, lullabies, some fine motor skills and reading time. “Toddler Time” is more interactive with singing, holiday songs, instruments, and extremely friendly teachers.

My son, Knox, is warmly greeted when he walks in the door and it is not just because he is the cutest. They really take time out to get to know each child.

Each of the local branches offers a schedule of classes and small class sizes; the most children participants I’ve ever seen are 15. Also, they are quite good about limiting classes to age-appropriate children so rarely is my two-year-old’s head used as a drum for a five-year-old’s musical fists.

As a family (minus husband since he insists on gainful employment) we go to music class on Thursdays in Fort Thomas. On Tuesdays in Newport, there is a bubble machine to go along with their “under the sea” themed days. Once my son is older, we will take advantage of the family fun nights, pajama parties, craft days, and more.

As a parent, it is wonderful to see my son stimulated, happy, and expressive but I also get an adult outlet and have met many wonderful parents (mostly mothers but dads are welcome too) and we all tend to congregate and compare under-eye circles and stretch marks afterward while our children color, play with dolls, read books, or play with the train set.

So, if you’re looking for a free but fun way to spend your weekday mornings, don’t forget to “check out” the Fort Thomas library. Say hi if you see me, I’m the one with the angelic child with model-good looks.

Campbell County Public Library Website: here

Friday, January 6, 2012

Van Damme It's Friday Links

- Highlands High School will recognize the 50th anniversary of the fire that destroyed half of the school on Friday, January 6, at 12:45pm in the school’s Theatre Studio.

- Via Ben Petracco: Highlands to officially retire Ross Neltner's jersey prior to tomorrow's 2:30 game. Ben reported this initially in October as they announced this at a halftime of a Highlands football game. Ross was a 2003 graduate and Kentucky's Mr. Basketball that year. He played at LSU and Vanderbilt.

- For a preview of our latest NKy's Pizza Quest, here's our video on YouTube. Ratings to follow.

- A few changes are coming to Fort Thomas Matters. Our call for a female voice was heard loud and clear. We think we've identified three unique women who will each provide a different Fort Thomas perspective. And obviously class up this Delta House-like setting. Can't wait to introduce them.

- Also, we have about two more stop on the Northern Kentucky pizza trail. After we finish, we are going to be starting a new feature. which I referred to at 1:11 on our last video filmed at the 915. This new feature will be more visually stimulating. We hope. There will be a lot of Fort Thomas "celebrities" involved, we'll help out our local charities and of course, we'll probably make ourselves look foolish.

If nothing else, it'll give our readers something to look forward to over the rest of 2012. We'll unveil exactly what this is next week. But if you join our Facebook page here (click like) you'll get a preview this weekend.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Newport Pavilion Getting to Work Again

The Newport Pavilion was one of two large developments that were sold by Bank of America two short weeks ago.  There is a good chance that this was the last piece of the puzzle that jump starts development.

The Cincinnati Business Courier reported in their last issue of the year that Anchor Investment Partners, LLC purchased the development from BofA for about 50 cents on the dollar.

According to the article (that requires a subscription to read the entire piece) Charles Townsend & Roger Watson of Anchor had this to say about hopes for the development:
Watson and Townsend, meantime say they hope to start construction early next year on up to 160,000 square feet of retail space.  Their goal is to have new retailers opening their doors for the back to school shopping season next fall.  Construction budgets are still being worked on.  Of the space that remains available for development, Townsend said there is interest on 95 percent of it.
The article mentions both Michaels and Marshals as continuing to be committed to the development but no additional retailers were listed.

Nky's Best Pizza Quest: 915

I know what you're going to say, the 915 Pub and Grill isn't known for their pizzas. And they aren't. But in the midst of the Christmas hustle and bustle, we needed to settle down into the local watering hole which offered us something others couldn't: convenience.

The 915 (is it "nine-fifteen" or "nine-one-five"?) is probably best known for their burgers and "burgermania" on Wednesdays, which feature $5 burgers. The restaurant has gotten shout-outs from local foodie blogs across greater Cincinnati and deserves all the accolades on this front. But we are on a pizza quest, not a burger quest. So let's see how the only restaurant we've been to that doesn't specialize in pizza does among the other pizza giants.

Atmosphere (1-10 scale): 5
It's a perfect local watering hole. Ample seating. TVs. Full bar. Pool table. Familiar faces on the wall mural and conversing all around you. The problem: the smoking. Believe me, I am no smoking ban proponent, but that's why it's a watering hole and not a pizza destination. The bathrooms could be upgraded as well in the cleanliness department.

Overall Pizza Taste Selection: 5
915 has some unusual selections, which the FTM braintrust likes and respects. We tried the Jacob Special - which is pretty much their version of a meat lover-, the pulled pork pizza and the grilled chicken cesar pizza.

I've had the Jacob Special and usually enjoy it. It's not overdone with toppings and the different meats meld together with the mozzarella. On this particular night, it was burnt. Just bad luck probably. It was the first time I'd had it like that, but it was not very good on this night.

The pulled pork pizza was good. It had a bbq sauce instead of the traditional marinara and provided a nice, zesty surprise when I first bit into it. The 915 famous cole slaw (lets be honest -why does broken ramen noodles make it special?) was just placed on top. It really didn't feel like it was a part of the pizza. They would have been better off bringing a side of cole slaw.