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34 articles

Rax Roast Beef: a peek inside one of the last locations of a once-mighty 80s chain.

“Fast food with style.”  That’s the motto that I, coming of age in the late 80s and early 90s, associate the most with Rax Roast Beef.  But let’s face it: when this formerly thriving restaurant began floundering, the slogans shifted with the seasons.  Thirty years later, it’s hard to say which marketing campaign is the

Upper floors in old buildings: why are they so hard to put to use?

City planners, chambers of commerce, commercial real estate brokers, and Business Improvement District (BID) managers should have no difficulty finding common ground on a number of subjects.  Generally speaking, they don’t run out of things to talk about.  And while they might cavil about the finer points of what is more important in attracting investment

Sweet Escape: cleverly combining two fun pastimes so the axe hits the bullseye.

As the year winds down, I intend to avoid any aphorisms or wisdom accrued over the past year—far too cliché.  New Years Day is, after all, a capricious imposition of significance to a 24-hour period that otherwise if fundamentally like any other.  Just an arbitrarily agreed-upon point on the elliptical orbit.  Why impart words of

Forest Fair Village, Part II: a lesson in how not to create a regional mega attraction.

The previous half of this mega-blog post explored Forest Fair Village pictorially, showing what happens when an investment company is left wringing whatever remaining profit they can derive from an almost completely dead attraction.  This mall—98% vacant yet also 98% open to the public—is hardly unique, even by Cincinnati standards, which, like most metros of

The construction year: is it a building’s badge of honor, a brand, or both?

Although a freestanding municipality, the City of Harrison in far southwest Ohio also functions fully within the orbit of metropolitan Cincinnati.  And although the two-block commercial main street appears small for a city of 11,000 and growing, it owes this lack of proportion to the surge of population after 1960, prior to which Harrison lingered

The Sandusky Mall’s precipitous fall.

While this article treads across some familiar territory—dead and dying malls—it arrives through a different lens: the eyes of a friend and fellow devotee of interesting landscapes. I blogged many years ago about Sandusky—specifically an unusual Value City Furniture in the heart of downtown—but I spent very little time in the area that one would

When a state chooses to feast on its identity, what does it use to fill its plate?

It is completely unreasonable for me to use license plate background art as a synecdoche for a state’s prevailing ethos, but I’m going to do it anyway. Why not? The design of a license plate is broadly attempting to achieve this effect, more so than even a flag. Whether license plates originally intended this or

In Mt. Adams, residential infill gets the old spit ‘n shine.

Residential infill development can—and often does—fail to integrate architecturally with the neighborhood that surrounds it. And that’s okay. Far more important than adherence to a certain vernacular is the physical form of the house. When looking at the front of the home square-on, does the layout emphasize a front door, a porch, a garage, or

The Sandusky Mall’s precipitous fall.

While this article treads across some familiar territory—dead and dying malls—it arrives through a different lens: the eyes of a friend and fellow devotee of interesting landscapes. I blogged many years ago about

In Mt. Adams, residential infill gets the old spit ‘n shine.

Residential infill development can—and often does—fail to integrate architecturally with the neighborhood that surrounds it. And that’s okay. Far more important than adherence to a certain vernacular is the physical form of the

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