Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment

Opticare Vision/Express Mobile Transport

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tuesday Pre-Hump Day Notes (3 French Hens, Merchants&Music, Tom + Chee)

- Congrats to Jessica Duke and her husband, Kevin, who just welcomed a baby girl to the world. The FTM brain trust is a-growing. Here's a message from Jess:
Finley Harper Jean Duke born at 12:35. 8 lbs. 3 oz, 20 inches. Everyone doing great!

- Three French Hens, which is located in the heart of Fort Thomas in the Towne Center District, is closing. I know they had some loyal
repeat customers but that had to be a difficult business model to sustain. They are moving out Thursday and plans to reestablish are yet to be determined. We'll keep you updated.

- The Merchants and Music headliner this year is JoDee Messina. It'll be at the amphitheater in Tower Park this year on September 22.

- The Highlands girls' basketball team played Notre Dame last night at NKU. They had 0 (zero) points at halftime and ended up losing 13-8. Very reminiscent of the University of Kentucky vs. the Lexington YMCA battles of the 1890s. Big ups to the fans who stayed through the game.

This was their strategy:

- Tom + Chee's reality show teaser is out. Kudos to the Cincinnality team.

FTM Goes to New Garden (by Ben Petracco)

The hottest new eatery in Fort Thomas is the New Garden restaurant in the Midway district. I wanted to try the food and the environment then relay my experience onto the FTM readers. I took my cousin, Jeff, and brother, Alex, to the restaurant and between the three of us we ordered 9 plates of food. No big deal.

I wanted to get a well rounded opinion of what the New Garden had to offer so we each ordered an appetizer, an entrĂ©e, and a sushi item. Jeff’s cuisine of choice (in order of appetizer-entrĂ©e-sushi) was the shrimp egg roll, chicken lo mein, and spicy tuna roll. Alex went with the fried shrimp, sweet and sour chicken, and New York roll. I wanted to spice things up opting for the crab Rangoon, General Tso’s chicken, and spicy salmon roll. All the food was really good with ample portions, but the aspect of the menu that most impressed me was the price point.

There are only 7 items on the entire menu that are over ten dollars. The appetizers range from $1.25 to a “staggering” $6.25, and could count as meals themselves. The entrees are large portions and their prices range from $6.00 to $16.00. The sushi can be ordered a la carte or in “rolls” as a meal; its price ranges from $2.50 to $15.00.

The sushi was the standout item of my meal; the taste versus cost was outstanding. It ranked up there with the sushi I have ordered at Teak in Mt. Adams, and blew the store bought sushi, from the likes of Kroger, out of the water.

If you’re not in the mood for Far East fare, New Garden does offer a western menu which includes kid friendly offerings including hamburgers and pizza.

Now onto the aesthetics of the restaurant; it is a smaller place with about 25 tables. Alex noted the “comfyness” of the seats. Jeff enjoyed the laser light on the ceiling show during the meal: beams of light dancing across the top of customers heads, shooting in different vectors at the direction of deftly placed mirrors. New Garden does offer 2 flat screen televisions and bar seating for four.

They do offer carry out and catering. Their hours are Monday thru Saturday 11:00am-10:00pm and Sunday Noon-9:30pm and they can be reached at 781-7888 and are located at 1031 South Fort Thomas Avenue.

New Garden is an outstanding addition to the Midway District; between the three people in our party we gave it six thumbs up!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Fort Thomas News - Late February Update

1. As we mentioned in a previous post - the Fort Thomas Education Foundation has their annual dance coming up.  If there is anything better than a good party is overnight childcare offered by the YMCA for those interested in partying deep into the night.  You can find the details and the registration form by checking out the Fort Thomas Education Foundation Facebook page.

2. The Fort Thomas Police Department is offering a Rape Aggression Defense course for women ages 13 and older.  Classes will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays 6PM to 9PM for 2 weeks. Spring session starts May 8th, 2012 and goes until May 17th, 2012. Classes will be held in the Council Chambers at the City Building, 130 N Ft Thomas Ave, Fort Thomas, KY, 2nd floor.  All interested persons are encouraged to contact Officer Emily Leising, via email ( ) or phone (859-572- 1239) to sign up. 

3. Mios is planning an opening for March 12th.  Look for a special next weekend with an inside look prior to the open.

4. Speaking of food - how does breakfast at Fort Thomas Pizza sound?  I know not that appetizing until you see the menu.  No cold BBQ pizza here:

Friday, February 24, 2012

Van Damme It's Friday Links

Here are some links for the best damme day of the week.

- Final word on Mark vs. Food II. We raised $750 for the second event, which puts us around $1000 through two events. With about 8 more to go on the year, it looks like our goal of $5000 for The Brighton Center is in reach. Special thanks to Omega Processing and Tom + Chee.

Also, set your DVRs to FOX 19 Monday morning for Cincinnality's teaser clip for the reality show about Tom + Chee. The clip isn't going to be too long, but hopefully you'll get to see a glimpse of the FTM braintrust.

- is going to a pay site! This is huge news and illustrates the fact that media is changing and evolving. We have been on this developing trend for a while and goes to show how sites like Fort Thomas Matters are truly the future on how people will get their news. On the internet. For free. And as fast as the news happens.

- A Mexican restaurant, called Anita's, will be moving into the old Fort Thomas Frisch's building. Via Jeff McKinney: Fort Thomas officials worked with a Realtor representing Frisch’s to find a buyer for the property, which has an assessed value of $360,000.

- A few reminders about some local fundraisers.
  1. The Fort Thomas Education Foundation will hold its annual dance on Saturday, March 3, at the Newport Syndicate.
  2. The HHS soccer team is having it's mulch sale. As an HHS soccer alum, this is something that is near and dear to my heart as the bulk of the proceeds will be going to the field turf which will be installed at Tower Park. As a senior in July of 2000, my teammates and I actually laid the Bermuda sod playing surface that is used to this day. Buy some mulch (which doesn't have delivery fee unlike their competitors) to give my man, Bud Leftin a break.
  3. The Highlands Band Association is having their Texas Holdem fundraiser tomorrow. Get out there and support them. Their flyer is below.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mark vs Food Part II Recap

Well, Mark vs. Food Part II is in the books. Tom + Chee was amazing, Mo Egger was a trooper and Omega Processing (thanks to Todd McHugh and Jeff Konen) helped pave the wave to putting Mark vs. Food over $700 for the Brighton Center. (If you would like to contribute to our cause, or know a business who would like to be March's corporate sponsor shoot me an email at

The grilled cheese doughnuts themselves (which was named the #4 best new sandwich in America by were amazing, albeit extremely filling. If I were going for lunch, one would definitely leave me satisfied. 13 in 10 minutes was another story. The sugar and the sheer amount of cheese proved to be too much for this amateur eater.

I ate 9 and Mo ate about 4. I'm going to claim the victory, even though I didn't finish and Mo had been up all night in Louisville at the Van Halen concert, driving straight to the Levee on almost no sleep. At the end of the day, I was just happy to raise money for the Brighton Center and no one had to use the bucket underneath the table.

Mark Cam:

Additionally, we walked in to another video camera frenzy. Instead of Channels 5, 9, 12 and 19, Tom + Chee had a production company headed by former WARM 98 personality Dean Miuccio (which produced local talk show Cincinnality, airing on Fox19 last fall) there. They have been shooting footage at both locations of Tom + Chee for a reality show based on their humble beginnings at Fountain Square to the two, brick-and-mortar locations they are in currently.

Read about that at another blog friend of FTM, Eggplant To Go. Apparently they are going to run a teaser episode on Fox 19 sometime soon, part of which will air this episode of Mark vs. Food.

Thanks to everyone that came out, especially Will Chambers for acting as event MC. Can't wait for next month's installment. The next guest is booked, just have to figure out the location. Here's to next month's Mark vs. Food.

Darrin Cam:

Monday, February 20, 2012

Tolls & The Impact on 471

A blog post from the Business Courier on Friday suggested that there is growing momentum towards accepting tolls as a likely last resort for funding the construction of the Brent Spence Bridge replacement.

Since the region's future has a lot riding on a dependable bridge to carry all those cars through Cincinnati, I have followed all the twists and turns this project has taken.  Despite this interest, I generally haven't been too invested in the funding aspects of the project up until it appears that tolls are a serious consideration.

Don't get me wrong, I rarely if ever go across the BSB and am not bothered about dropping a few bucks into a toll booth from time to time but what concerns me (and possibly should concern others living in Campbell County) is the increased stress that 471 and the Big Mac bridge will see as a result.

I know what you are thinking - no one is seriously going to drive out of their way to save a couple bucks - especially with gas prices hovering between $3 & $4.  But as a former resident of Independence I had a choice  between equal routes in the morning - head up the hill from KY-17 to the Park Hills exit onto 75 or head across 275 to 471.  People facing the same choice will choose 471 during construction and after tolls.

Tack this on to a construction timeline that starts this spring with a massive resurfacing project, followed by a new exit reconfiguration for Newport / Bellevue and you may want to savor the lack of congestion and delays that you experience now when you travel on 471.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mama on a Budget: Lowe's Build and Grow (by Jessica Duke)

What an ingenious marketing ploy the Highland Heights Lowe's has. They call it “Build and Grow” and it is a Saturday morning session a few times per month for children over two where you get to actually build different projects; this week was a Valentine’s Day card box. Of course the evil corporate genius behind this idea thought about it economically: 50 kids means 50 parents who may not have otherwise come to Lowe’s. Sheepishly buying in, we literally bought in and purchased stuff from Lowes we otherwise wouldn’t have. But we totally owed it to them, we got an awesome box!

Truthfully, though, it is a neat (and free) Saturday morning program. Knox was given an apron with his name on it, his own hammer, and the box kit. He really enjoyed using his “boom-boom” (hammer) just like “Bahdabudder” (Bob the Builder). It was really rewarding watching him work with his hands, practice fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, and to watch his eyes light up when he realized he got to keep what he had built (and decorate it with stickers!).

Also, upon completing the project, he was given a certificate (now in the trash, honestly) and an iron-on patch with the name of the project on it. There were children at the workshop with close to twenty or thirty patches ironed on to their apron. Knox has been proudly wearing the apron and brandishing the hammer since arriving home and even helped Daddy check a box off his “honey-do” list.

Although Dad ended up doing most of the build and the Lowes-provided “helper” really just stood off to the side, and although the workshop area was a stack of lumber and not the easiest area to build in for adults (perfect height for children), it was a really enjoyable Saturday morning.

To find more information on these workshops, go to The next session is a “Rumblin Race-Car” on February 25th followed by a “Carnival Hoop” on March 10.

Gripe of the Day (Guest Post by Marc Roth)

What are we teaching our kids today??  I’m amazed each morning that I’m either dropping my son off at Highlands Middle School or driving past one of the elementary schools and I get stuck behind parents that insist on stopping in the middle of the road to let their kids out.  Never mind that there are ALWAYS parking spots that the parents can swing their car into for 15 seconds to let their kids out and the cars behind to pass!

One morning this past week I had two cars directly in front of me stop in the middle of the road by the HMS crosswalk, let their kids out and waited for them to cross the street in front of them before continuing on.  NOT ONE…TWO!  After the first stopped and let their son out…they departed.  Then the second pulled up to the same spot and continued the process.  (Mind you, there were no other kids in the crosswalk at that time…it was just “more convenient” for the parents)  This worries me as it doesn’t teach the kids the discipline of understanding their surrounding and recognizing there are other people behind them.

What’s next??  Perhaps they can also teach their kids to stand on the moving walkway at the airport and not “allow people to pass you on the left.”  Or…teach them to not know that someone is coming behind them on the highway and just hang out in the left lane.

I need some ibuprofen!!   

Friday, February 17, 2012

Fort Thomas Superintendent Accepts Position with The College Board

Via Fort Thomas Independent School website. Hat tip Jess Duke.

Fort Thomas Independent Schools’ superintendent, John Williamson, today announced his decision to retire as superintendent effective March 12, 2012. Williamson is leaving to take a position with The College Board in New York City where he will lead an innovative new national AP program that focuses on 21st century learning skills.

Williamson has been employed with the District since 1999, first as assistant superintendent for teaching and learning. He was named superintendent in 2007. During his tenure, the District has continued to be ranked as the top-performing K-12 district in Kentucky, with three schools being named as National Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence. Williamson has implemented many innovative programs, provided a stronger fiscal stability and modernized the physical infrastructure of the District. Additionally, he is credited with marketing the District which has resulted in a dramatic increase in tuition students as well as adding a chef and nutritionist to the cafeteria program.

“Although this is a great opportunity for John, it is a loss for our District. The experience, leadership and vision John brought will be difficult to replace. However, we are committed to finding the best candidate to continue leading our District forward,” said Karen Allen, Fort Thomas Board of Education chairperson.

“I have been blessed to work with such a professional, talented, giving team of Board members, administrators, teachers, parents, students and, most importantly, community members,” said Williamson. “Our work together has enabled students to achieve at greater levels, helping to continue the rich tradition of educational excellence in Fort Thomas.”

The Board of Education intends to appoint Gene Kirchner, current assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, as interim superintendent, and immediately initiate the superintendent selection process.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fort Thomas News Mid-week Update

1. Reser's bike shop is hosting a NKY Bike survey. The survey is presented by Queen City Bike and the Kentucky Bicycle and Bikeway Commission - if you are a cyclist in the area go complete the survey as it can help shape future amenities.

2. The Highlands Band is holding a Texas Hold Em tournament on February 25th at the VFW hall in Southgate. They need a successful fundraiser to cover basic expenses and could really use the help of all of you future Phil Ivey's.

3. AJ Jolly just received funds for a new paved trail. This is the second year in a row they won funds for expanded trails. While I am excited that the park has won funds since the trail is in the county and area but I think it would be even better if Fort Thomas recreation submitted for these funds for Tower or other surrounding parks.

4. We have commended the Fort Thomas Police Department before for utilizing new technologies for communicating with citizens. They continue to find new ways - a point underscored by a recent Facebook friend request I received from them. That is right - they are making a push to get residents to friend them on Facebook so that they have yet another way to reach citizens - go friend them now - Fort Thomas PD, Not Fort Thomas Police.

I Get To Eat 13 of These

A baker's dozen. Grilled. Cheese. Donut.

Sunday, 2:00 Tom + Chee at Newport on the Levee. Tom + Chee is located on the Riverwalk level next to Cold Stone Creamery, Sports Depot and across from Barnes and Nobles.

I'll be taking on Mo Egger from ESPN 1530. Also, I'll be with Mo in studio tomorrow talking about Mark vs. Food - so if you're stuck at your desk Friday afternoon, or you're driving home, start your weekend off by making fun of me stumble my way through the interview.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ft. Thomas City Council Notes (by Jessica Duke)

A new feature of Fort Thomas Matters going forward will be a summary of the newsworthy items from the Fort Thomas City Council meetings. I have lived in Ft. Thomas for 26 years and, prior to Monday February 13, had never attended a council meeting, all of which are open to the public and quite informative on the different issues facing Ft. Thomas government and residents. The full minutes are posted on the city website ( so only a few of the more noteworthy items will be summarized below:

1) Each session begins with an opportunity for residents to address the Council. Sue Morrow, whose story was written on this site a few days ago, was the only resident choosing to do so.

2) The public works committee, headed by Councilman Eric Haas, reported that the city has purchased property on which they intend to build a storage shed for offseason storage of road salt. Currently, the city has excess salt remaining from the mild 2011-2012 winter but in many years, the city has to purchase additional salt mid-winter at substantially inflated costs. The storage shed will allow the city to purchase salt in the offseason at a greatly reduced cost and store it for the coming snowy months.

3) Don Martin, City Administrative Officer, provided a written report prior to the Council meeting. His report is not actionable items but items of note that occurred in the time since the last Council meeting and items that warrant being brought to Council’s attention. Contained therein were the following:
a. Drainage issues on Grant Street (Sue Morrow, resident, as previously discussed)

b. A resident had expressed concern regarding the condition of the roads on Churchill Drive.

c. New Garden Restaurant opened and Mio’s will be opening soon

d. Safe Routes to School and Transportation Enhancement Funds federal grant program had been eliminated. Funds were considering being used for sidewalk on N. Ft. Thomas Ave.

e. 911 system failure on Tuesday February 7th, made the system inaccessible for two hours.

f. Precious Metals/Use Property Ordinance- County Attorney Steve Franzen is working on an ordinance which would address the growing problem of theft of personal property in order to sell it at a pawnshop. This would be a countywide ordinance not requiring approval of the cities but Martin and city attorney Jann Seidenfaden have the opportunity to review and provide feedback from the city.

4) Mio’s has applied for a liquor license and the Council did the first reading of the application.

Mark vs. Food, featuring Mo Egger this Sunday!

The challenge is a Baker's Dozen (13) grilled cheese donuts. And yes, they are amazing. This Sunday at 2:00 at Newport on the Levee. Come watch us make idiots of ourselves.

Also, if you'd care to bring a donation for The Brighton Center, that would be awesome. Omega Processing will be this week's corporate sponsor, but anything you can add to it would be amazing.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Rain Dampens Ft. Thomas Couples' Retirement (Guest Post by Ben Petracco)

Editor's Note:

Before we get to Ben's article, I just wanted to point out that FTM will be covering council meetings going forward. With a stable of talented and competent writers at our disposal, Darrin and I don't have to be everywhere at once. With that, this week Jessica is compiling a list of noteworthy items from the meeting on 2/13. Ben is covering just one item in depth. Without further adieu, here's Ben.

- Mark

Sue Morrow has lived on Grant Street near Woodfill Elementary School for years without any problem or a complaint. With the building of the new Woodfill and the subsequent hill created by the construction, which funnels rainwater toward her house, those years are over. She has an incessant build-up of rainwater and mud that has brought her to her current dilemma.

The Morrows have two properties on Grant Street: one primary residence and a second that they bought as investment property.

The main problem the Morrows are facing is insufficient drainage from their two properties into the sewer system and this has cost them dearly. The constant flooding has cost them two tenants in the rental property, and the cost of having their basements fixed after both houses flooded.

The city of Fort Thomas and the Sanitation Department suggested different ideas to rectify the drainage problem. One of the remedies, given by the city, for redirecting the overflow of rainwater to their backyard did not help. In fact, the Morrow's claim this solution proposed to help the drainage problem has cost the family an additional $2000, and has resulted in the same messy, muddy quagmire.

Initially the Morrows had city engineers and sanitation representatives come and survey the property to see if additional assistance should be provided. City officials examined the property in a steady rainfall to gather proper information on the draining issue. They concluded that there wasn’t anything additional that should be done and the Morrows were denied in their plea for assistance from Fort Thomas.

Monday night, Ms. Morrow supplied the City Council Board members with pictures and statistics of current rainfall that has resulted in standing water in her yard. She explained the water is not reaching the sewers that are on the street, and instead it collects in front of her house. The members of the board acknowledged that the pictures were a great help and would result in the city reconsidering their plight.

Mayor Pro Tem Eric Haas said, “When the team went to the property the problem was not as bad as the pictures had depicted.”

Monday, February 13, 2012

Blighted Properties in Fort Thomas: Roll Call

In light of last week's $25 billion nationwide mortgage foreclosure settlement, that could send millions to the region to help tear down blighted, vacant properties across local neighborhoods hit hardest by the foreclosure crisis - I wondered what steps our city is taking to remedy the problem in Fort Thomas.

Fort Thomas has not been immune to the mortgage crisis. Off hand I know of a few abandoned properties just in my subdivision on the north end of town. On Monday in Cincinnati, Ohio's Attorney General, Mike Dewine laid out a $75 million plan ridding communities of decaying, abandoned properties that bring down neighborhood home values and fuel crime.

In an article in Monday's Enquirer, Dewine said:

“If we look at the victims of the mortgage crisis, some that have not been talked about much are the people who played by the rules and paid their mortgage on time,” Dewine said. “Yet in their neighborhoods are these abandoned properties that are depressing the value of their homes....In essence by tearing these properties down, we’re building up these neighborhoods.”

Now obviously, Fort Thomas does not have near the problem that Price Hill has, where Dewine held his press conference, but I would like our city officials to look into getting a chunk of this $25 billion handed out by the federal government. Within the next 30 days, Cincinnati will begin crafting a plan to apply for these funds.

If our city can get even a sliver of this mortgage foreclosure settlement, Fort Thomas will be better off. There are houses in our city that simply do not need to exist anymore. I'll be posting some pictures of a few examples of these houses on our Facebook page here. Feel free to email me a picture or address of an abandoned house near you. Maybe if we get enough our council will listen.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Ft. Thomas Connection + Man Show on Radio = Entertainment (Guest Post by Ben Petracco)

The University of Cincinnati has a student internet radio that is offered online called Bearcast. The site is located at, and it provides a valuable platform for many students to get their message on the airwaves.

Many students have varied time slots, but I focused on a program on Friday nights from 6-8; the program is called Hammertime Radio and it is hosted by four UC students. Caleb Moore, of Ft. Thomas, Mason Quick, Justin Roy, and Connor Inglis are the names behind the voices and the men who give life to Hammertime Radio every Friday night.

I contacted to Caleb Moore to get some more details about their segment and what was the catalyst that started Hammertime Radio.

Caleb explained, “We started the show because we constantly get in arguments about certain topics. When we looked at these discussions from an outside perspective we saw the potential for an audience that would be entertained by our banter. For example we had a full segment on the importance of ice in a drink- commodity or necessity?

With the male dominated panel Caleb did admit that sports do get brought up a lot, but they strive to maintain a balance between sports and other topics (see afore mentioned ice debate). It is, after all, a radio station so the guys do play music. Requests are taken as long as they don’t interfere with the Guilty Pleasure Song of the Week. Who doesn’t like a little “Bye Bye Bye” now and again?

Hammertime is broadcast from the Jack and Joan Strader Studio on the main campus of The University of Cincinnati, and as Caleb explained, “We try to keep the show relaxed and up beat to ensure the listeners have a good time and want to listen again and again.”

It is always great to hear that Ft. Thomas citizens are being successful, and in this case making internet radio a little more enjoyable 2 hours at a time. I have tuned in and it really is an enjoyable broadcast.
Hammertime Radio is on Facebook (, Twitter (@HammertimeRadio), email (, and you can call the show to chime in on the discussion or request a song (513-556-4529).

Ozzy Sheehan to UK

Austin "Ozzy" Sheehan announced his college plans last night via Facebook. He'll join his teammate, Patrick Towles at the University of Kentucky. Sheehan had offers from Ohio State, Arkansas, Cincinnati, Eastern Kentucky and multiple full scholarship offers from Division II schools.

I finally made my decision. I couldn't give up my blue and white colors. I am going to be a Kentucky Wildcat.

Sheehan is the next Dickie Lyons Jr. Mark it down.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Mark vs. Food - Part Deux

Yup, this ^ is the kind of thing I do on a Friday night. Actually, if you must know I'm hydrating in preparation for Cincinnati Beerfest tomorrow night. Can't wait.

So, we raised $250 for The Brighton Center at our first Mark vs. Food event at Raniero's Pizzeria in Cold Spring. That's on target of what I'm looking to do each time, but I still would love a corporate sponsor to match the money we raise to give them something significant.

Jeff Ruby, Andrew Whitworth, Omega Processing, Kroger, Remke/Biggs, Castellini, Hosea... I am looking at you! I have proposals into all of these people but haven't been able to break through. If our readers have a contact or suggestion, email me at

Our next installment of Mark vs. Food is next Sunday, February 19th at 2:00 at Tom + Chee at Newport on the Levy. I am challenging Mo Egger of ESPN 1530 to the Baker's Dozen grilled cheese doughnut challenge.

Should be a good time again, and I'd love to have you there! If you'd like to bring a personal donation to help me get to my goal this week, show up to Tom + Chee, eat a sandwich with me and drop a check. You'll be helping an organization that helps our community's needy.

Rossford Park Update (guest post by Stephanie Class)

Growing up on the mean streets of South Central Ft. Thomas, Rossford Park was often off my radar. We typically gravitated toward Highland Park or Tower Park to meet our outdoor needs. However, Rossford Park is quickly shaping up to be another great asset to our town’s park system. Don’t be surprised if you see folks from other parts of the city making their way to Rossford Park for some time in the great outdoors.

Here are some of Rossford’s latest updates:

When you first arrive at the newly improved park, you will notice a new parking lot. The lot has tripled in size and also allows for better traffic flow thanks to the circular drop-off area in the back of the lot.

The front entrance of the park (from the street) now boasts a shiny, new pavilion. This area includes bathroom facilities and benches. The design of the park’s various structures (bathrooms, shelters, dugouts, etc.) are similar to that seen in Highland Park and Tower Park, thus linking the city’s parks together.

Along with the pavilion area, the baseball fields now have new dugouts.

The park includes a paved path around the premises of the property, which is perfect for those looking to exercise outdoors.

The exercise junkies out there will love the new path as well as the abundance of stairs throughout the park. Those of us who believe you only need to run when being chased, the stairs may prove to be problematic. There is an off-street entrance in the front of the park, but is not directly accessible from the parking lot. The shelter entrance is easily accessible as well.

Need a place to gather up your friends or family for a picnic? Well, Rossford’s new shelter is sure to be one of the city’s hotspots once the park is complete. The shelter is quite large and sits adjacent to both the parking lot and the new playground equipment. Parents can enjoy time with other adults while also keeping an eye on their kids as they play.

It will be interesting to see if the park is indeed complete come fall, but either way, it is certainly a great addition to the city.

More pictures after the jump...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Fort Thomas News - Midweek Update

1. Today was the grand opening of the New Garden - see previous post that includes the menu.  This continues the renaissance of the Midway district and is a nice addition to the dining options the exist in the middle of town.  Over the past couple of years we have a new streetscape, a Farmers Market, a renewed Nevada Building, and now additional dining options.  Now if we can just get the public housing out of the Midway and converted into retail that would be a nearly complete transformation.  Anyone visit the New Garden today? We would love to hear your thoughts....

2.  With new beginnings come endings as well.  Cake Towne has closed their Fort Thomas location.  It is a sad, and rather abrupt end to a promising business in the Inverness District.  Cake Towne had brought a fair amount of positive attention to the Fort Thomas retail scene through participation in Groupon and other avenues and filled a need for a bakery in the area.  Personally, I enjoyed being able to pick up cake balls for events or a cake for occasional birthdays but this apparently wasn't enough to keep the business open.  In a response from Cake Towne via Facebook they had the following to say:
It was a bad location. We were too far off the beaten path. We kept our Butler location though
3. Apparently there was a vacancy on the Fort Thomas School Board and apparently the state Department of Education had the authority to appoint someone to the open position.  The DOE appointed Lisa Duckworth who seems to have strong qualifications for the job.  According to the linked article:
Previously, she served on the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) boards at Moyer Elementary and Highlands High; served as PTO President at Moyer Elementary; served as a member (nine years total) of the Site-Based, Decision-Making (SBDM) councils at Moyer Elementary, Highlands Middle and Highlands High; and has also served on the Fort Thomas Local Planning Committee (LPC). Most recently, she has worked coordinating the annual community teacher appreciation breakfast.

4.  And in a cool Fort Thomas resident making it big note - Fort Thomas resident Connie Hall has had a third book published and now available on  The book titled "Bible Bugs... Play Ball" can be found at the following link.

Nky's Best Pizza Quest: Toppers

I feel like all I do is write about pizza these days. For that reason, as soon as Mio's in Fort Thomas opens, we will bring this feature to an end and focus on Mark vs. Food (which will be Saturday, February 18 - details to follow on Friday).

Toppers, located in Highland Heights in the same shopping center alongside of Chipotle and Smashburger, is obviously catering to the college crowd at NKU.

Atmosphere (1-10 scale): 3.5

The atmosphere at Toppers is virtually non-existent. A glorified waiting area. The owners obviously are trying to capture most of their sales via delivery and carry out. There are two areas to sit. A few couches in front of 4 TVs on the right, with a four-top table alongside of a few barstool seats on the left. Extrapolate the current layout into an entire dining room, and they may have something, but until they rent a bigger space, you literally cannot go to Toppers to eat in comfort. We had to take our pizzas back to the house. The pictures below are literally the only places you could sit and eat. Non-smoking, however.

Overall Pizza Taste/Selection: 7
Pizza is best when you get to eat it right out of the oven. The cheese doesn't have time to congeal on the way home, the crust is still warm, and the sauce almost still bubbly. Maybe that's why Domino's created the heat wave delivery pouch. I digress.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

New Garden to Open Tomorrow

It's been a long time coming. Our first post on the Japanese/Chinese restaurant was almost a year ago, which includes comments from soon-to-be councilman, Ken Bowman.

Tomorrow at 11:00, New Garden Restaurant will open its doors in the Midway District, in what used to be Klingenberg Hardware. Let's welcome them right, Fort Thomas. Stop in for dine in or carry out. You can check out the menu below:

Friday, February 3, 2012

5 Things to Know about Extreme Couponing

Nathan Engles, a 2000 graduate from Highlands High School, is the King of Coupons. Actually if you Google him, you'll find his moniker is Mr. Coupon, but let's not get picky. Dude knows his coupons.

In a Fort Thomas Matters throw-back series, Nathan and his website are the subject of this week's feature of 5 Things to Know. (If you want to see other 5 Things to Know segments, click on the tab at the top of the page.)


#1 - Coupons truly makes a big difference. Coming from someone who does not fit the mold of a traditional couponer, (29 year old male) trust me when I say that those little pieces of paper that you find in the newspaper, if used correctly and strategically, make a HUGE difference for your grocery bill. I know, four years ago I was starring down $80,000 in combined debt (excluding the house), and now I only have around $18,000. Is that all coupons, no. But they have made me realize the value in what I buy and have helped lead me into a solid life of frugality.

#2 - Coupons aren't rocket science. People sometimes make mountains out of molehills! Couponing is like learning to ride a bike, once you've learned, you're set! Coupon forums like can get you started. It does take a little time, but the time invested is worth it.

#3 - Coupons are online! You can print coupons on the internet now, but beware. Many sites offer 'coupons' but require you to give your email, sign up for things, and put you through the ringer. Safe approved coupon sites are:, and These sites will never ask you for your personal information, and the only thing required to print the coupons is a quick plugin to download their printer software.

#4 - Extreme Couponing isn't all that extreme. If you saw me on TLC's Extreme Couponing, you might think I'm a hoarder! But in reality couponing, or 'extreme couponing' as many call it is a very simple idea. Why pay for something tomorrow when it's free or cheap today. For example, when you start couponing, every six months you will find toothpaste for free (with a coupon). When this happens, I get 10 tubes, not because I'm trying to hoard toothpaste, but because I know I will use them. I liken this concept to a financial concept that millions of Americans are very familiar with: 401K. There is no real reason to have hundreds of thousands of dollars sitting in a 401K, but you know that one day you will retire and NEED IT. Stockpiling is the same way, I don't need those 10 tubes of toothpaste now, but eventually I will, and why pay full price tomorrow, when it's free today?

#5 - Beginning Couponers need to be ORGANIZED. This is my absolutely number one tip for anyone who is interested in starting out. Get organized. How many times have you taken the time to clip a coupon, and then arrived at the store, only to realize the coupon is still sitting on the bar. That's like forgetting money!! Get organized!!

If you are interested in starting to coupon, extreme or not, WeUseCoupons has hundreds of articles and resources that are all FREE to use. Our virtual coupon classesare a great starting point and our YouTube channel delivers coupon content every week!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Xanadu Skates onto the Stage (Guest Post by Stephanie Class)

The Fort Thomas Community Theatre’s third production is bringing all your roller disco dreams to the stage with Xanadu. Director John Williamson has gathered some of the area’s top talent for this hilarious musical. When I was invited to attend one of the show’s rigorous rehearsals, I was impressed with the level of talent that has been assembled for the show.

The Fort Thomas Independent Schools’ website provides us with an insight into the musical’s story. “The story of the musical focuses on a Greek muse, Clio, who descends from Mt. Olympus to Venice Beach, California, in 1980 on a quest to inspire a struggling artist, Sonny, to achieve the greatest creation of his life - a roller disco. But, when Clio, disguised as an Australian roller girl named Kira, falls into forbidden love with the mortal Sonny, her jealous sisters take advantage of the situation, and Clio risks eternal banishment to the underworld.” Greek muses, 1980s Venice Beach, roller discos...what’s not to love?

Just because you are seeing the show in the Highlands High School auditorium and not off the Times Square - 42nd Street subway stop in New York City, doesn’t mean you will miss out on any of the show’s unique elements. Williamson is embracing the original Broadway production’s more unconventional aspects. The Community Theatre’s show will include a roller-skating cast as well as on-stage seating. Yes, you read that right - you can see all the roller disco action close-up from an on-stage seat.

When initially hearing of the organization’s choice to perform Xanadu, I was surprised since I had never heard of a community theater production of the show. Little did I know, that was due to the fact that the rights were just recently released to Xanadu. Williamson was quick to jump on the opportunity to direct Xanadu as soon as it was legally possible to do so. After first seeing the musical in New York City, Williamson was interested in bringing the show to Ft. Thomas. “I thought it was really fun when I first saw it on Broadway years ago, and since the rights were just released, it would be new, fresh, and different,” gushed Williamson at a rehearsal.

Xanadu consists of 15 cast members, some of which have Ft. Thomas roots, while others are from various places in the area. Many of the crew members are also Ft. Thomas folks, and I was lucky enough to chat with Stage Manager, Whitney Brindle, about the production. According to Brindle, the cast has been rehearsing up to four times each week since rehearsals kicked off in mid-December. I was also joined by Vickie Pelgin, one of the show’s Producers, who spoke highly of Xanadu’s musical numbers and the family friendly appeal of the show. Both Brindle and Pelgin were quick to comment on the production’s lovable cast. They often discussed how enjoyable the cast and crew are, and their admiration for one another was easily seen throughout the rehearsal. According to Brindle, Xanadu will offer up some “great laughs and cheesy, corny, ‘80s fun.”

You can catch a performance of Xanadu on the following dates:

Thursday, February 2: 7:30 PM
Friday, February 3: 7:30 PM
Saturday, February 4: 7:30 PM
Sunday, February 5: 2:00 PM
Performing Arts Center
Highlands High School
2400 Memorial Parkway
Fort Thomas, KY 41075