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A local restaurant is bringing Southern comfort to the Queen City. Read on for all the delicious details.

LouVino is a new bar and restaurant serving southern-style dishes and wine.

Lauren Coulter and her husband Chad haven’t always been restaurateurs. In a past career life, the two were practicing pharmacists before they decided to think outside the pill box in 2014.

It was then that they went for a more entrepreneurial way of living and opened the first LouVino in The Highlands of Louisville on Bardstown Road. Since then, Coulter says the opportunities to expand their business northbound, with new locations in Louisville, the Indianapolis area, and Cincinnati – in Over-the-Rhine to be exact.

LouVino is a small plates and wine bar that specializes in Southern-inspired small plates (that are usually rather generous portions, hence southern). But they don’t just serve up Southern food at LouVino, they also offer wine.

“We have 60 wines by the glass, we are a wine bar that wants to make learning about and trying wine approachable to anyone who wants to learn,” explains Coulter. LouVino also serves up bourbon, cocktails, and beer to satisfy the palettes of its customers.

Coulter says she knows that a Southern-inspired eatery is different than the norm you find in Cincinnati, giving the Queen City a unique new offering.

“Our extremely creative kitchen that comes up with the food that changes seasonally definitely adds to the restaurant’s uniqueness as well,” she says. “We also know that each location is so specific to the area it’s been placed in. We spent a lot of time making sure we listened to what people who dine in OTR wanted and needed, and have tried to deliver that the best we can. We love our neighborhood, and want to be a stop for everyone to enjoy.”

As the year moves forward for LouVino Coulter says that they are hoping to establish a Wine Education and dinner program in OTR this year. “We have a few really cool things coming up include a rose wine class and maybe even a Harry Potter dinner,” she says.

To learn more about LouVino, visit https://louvino.com/otr/. You can also follow along on Instagram and Facebook.

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There’s a new event and venue space coming to town this year! Click to learn more and a peek into the concept.

Mojave East is a new event and venue space in Cincinnati.

Cincy Chic: Tell us more about Mojave East!
Christina Elsass, Owner of Mojave East: Mojave East is a unique new wedding and event venue in the Cincinnati area. We are transforming an 11,000-square-foot industrial warehouse built in the 1950s, into a stylishly contemporary gathering space. We are located only 10 miles east of downtown Cincinnati on route 32, in charming Newtown Village.

Cincy Chic: What’s the inspiration behind Mojave East?
Elsass: We met in southern California, and have been inspired by the airy tranquility of the California desert, west coast style and design, and the glam of mid-century Palm Springs. We wanted to create a space that felt like you were being transported to another geography. We’re also blending a lot of urban and natural elements, to provide a harmonious indoor/outdoor experience for guests.

Cincy Chic: Who’s behind the venue? 
Elsass: We are Ben and Christina Elsass, a husband and wife team that had a vision to bring a unique gathering place to life based on our own experiences, and our love of hosting celebrations and memorable events. Ben has been in the wedding industry for over 10 years, and runs two successful businesses – Ben Elsass Photography and Photosphere (a gif photo booth). I (Christina) have 15 years of brand marketing and advertising behind me. We have blended our business and creative minds to develop an experiential space that we hope give you and your guests a wow experience.

Cincy Chic: What types of events will you host?
Elsass: We plan to host many types of events! The concept was built around hosting weddings, but it’s also a great open space for corporate parties or a variety of social gatherings. We also plan to open it up during the week for things like classes, retreats, and workshops. We designed it so that it would be ready to utilize as is, or it could be transformed and personalized completely. We want it to instigate inspiration for our clients but not deter them from making it their own.

Cincy Chic: What makes this event venue unique?
Elsass: The inspiration and style of the space is not common in the area and we hope that creates a refreshing excitement! We’ll have both indoor and outdoor spaces available that we can open up for those beautiful weather days. We will also incorporate art and design in various formats for photo (or selfie!) opportunities throughout. Lastly, but certainly not least, we want to provide a personal level of customer service to our clients, so that their event is THE event and we can help bring it to life.

Cincy Chic: When will Mojave East officially open?
Elsass: We plan to have a soft opening this fall, and open to larger events starting in late 2019 as the holidays roll around. We will soon be offering tours of the site and begin booking!

Cincy Chic: Where can readers go to learn more and follow along? 
Elsass: The best place to follow our progress would be Instagram where we will be posting daily updates on both the construction build and any fun announcements. We also have a Facebook page that will be updated regularly. Lastly, in the next few weeks, our website will feature 3D renderings, accommodations and services that we will offer, as well as booking and contact information to schedule a tour.

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This local woman gives a rustic, handmade touch to your big day’s floral arrangements, and also teaches DIY classes.

Tasha Anderson has a passion for all things floral, design, and decorating. So she decided to take that passion and turn it into a home-based floral business: Stems by Ratasha.

“I have always loved flowers and beautiful things,” she explains. “So when my oldest daughter asked me to create her flowers and decorate for her upcoming wedding – in a year and a half – I could not refuse!”

Andersons says she didn’t even know she could put together a floral arrangement, let alone create wedding flowers.

From there, she was able to land a job at a florist and learned not just that she loves flowers and everything about them, but she also loved creating arrangements that were able to make people happy and make a space even more beautiful.

Stems by Ratasha DIY wreath-making class attendees with their creations

“I did create and decorate her wedding,” she says. “It was beautiful.”

Following the wedding Anderson gave up flowers for a few months only to realize how much she missed it.

“Instead of getting back into flowers right away, I decided to make fresh wreaths for my girls for Christmas,” Anderson says. “I posted them online, just to try and make some extra Christmas money, and it took off.”

She says she had 22 orders for her wreaths in just two weeks. “I couldn’t believe it,” she adds.

The holidays came and went and Anderson decided to take another break – this time until February.

“That is when I heard the voice inside my head saying ‘Stems,’ and I know I needed to do something with it,” Anderson explains. “Not sure what so I started posting pictures of my work and I slowly started getting orders for arrangements and planters.”

From there, she says, her requests moved into corsages and boutonnieres for school dances and then more weddings.

“Stems by Ratasha had been born,” she says.

On the winding journey that got her to where she is today, Anderson says that the passion for her floral business came from her father, who named her, and made her promise that if she ever did anything public in her life she would use her given name.

“Promise kept,” she adds. “Thank you, daddy.”

Anderson is a woman who didn’t take the traditional path to Stems by Ratasha.

She finds inspiration not only in her daughters, but in herself, for realizing her own passion.

“I had just turned 50 years old, you are never too old to learn a new skill and to live our your dream,” she says.

Aside from her floral design side of the business, Anderson also offers DIY floral centerpiece classes.

“The floral classes are a huge hit,” she says.

The classes teach people to create an arrangement that fits the season we’re in. She supplies the materials for students as well as the instruction.

“All I ask is that each person bring their creativity,” she says. “That way, together we can create an arrangement they can say ‘I did it,’ and are very proud to take home with them.”

Classes from Stems by Ratasha start right around $40 but vary depending on the arrangement size. Anderson says she tries to keep the classes affordable and hopes to soon open a larger area so that she can host even more students and a bigger variety of classes.

Wreath classes are also available from Stems by Ratasha, which are more labor intensive but still fun, and cost $40 per person.

Anderson says she’s currently working on a few new ideas for Stems by Ratasha, including a website and opening up a shop this spring and summer.

To learn more about Stems by Ratasha, you can contact her directly at 937-621-4569 or by messaging her Facebook page. Stems by Ratasha is also on Instagram.

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Learn about the sometimes painful journey that led this local couple to each other and inspired them to reach out to those around them.

Cincy Chic: What is Brooke and Daron?
Brooke Farmer, Founder of Brooke and Daron: At Brooke and Daron, we’re all about Move, Pray, Love, on a digital platform. Whether you’re looking for guidance, fitness tips, healthy recipes, prayer requests, and more, you’ve come to the right place. We want you to grab a cup of coffee and stay a while.

Cincy Chic: What’s the inspiration behind it?
Farmer: When I sold my small media company in 2016 and the door was closed for me to continue with work as I knew it, in the quiet moments that followed this business decision the Lord began to use me to help other women start their small businesses, ministries, and write their books. Now, I must be honest and tell y’all that I wasn’t jumping at the opportunity to help. Not that I didn’t wish to assist, but simply because I didn’t feel that I had anything to offer. However, when the Lord desires to do something He can become quite persistent. Soon after I began to help this individual, other women started to reach out to me for assistance and I found myself cheering once again. But this time, I was in their corner, cheering them on to start their own businesses, birth a ministry, and write their books. Feeling the joy produced when women realize who they are called to be, and then assisting them to do those things they have always dreamed of doing reignited my dreams and passions within myself, and proved to be a launching pad that encouraged me to finally follow the dreams that God has given to me. To launch a brand and form a community of women who are excited about living life to the fullest while maintaining a healthy balance between food, faith and fitness.

Cincy Chic: Who’s behind it?
Farmer: We are Brooke and Daron Farmer. We are a Jesus lovin’ family who enjoys sharing our journey with friends and family. We can’t wait to Move Love Pray with you. Whether you are looking to live your best spiritual life, needing healthy recipes that will feed your family in under 30 minutes, seek out workouts for women that you can do from the comfort of your home and so much more!

Cincy Chic: How do you incorporate health and fitness into your new venture?
Farmer: Fitness has always been my niche. In fact, you may recognize me from my Fitness company that I started about 6 years back (Skinny Mom). The successful sale of that business has been my launching pad, enabling me to show you each ingredient that makes up the recipe of my life. My love for fitness started at a young age and carried me through college on a scholarship to the University of Kentucky. There I was able to cheer on the boys in blue, and fell in love with motivating others. I helped pay my way through college by working as a certified personal trainer and continued training part-time in the years that followed. A couple years later I found myself on the national level cheering for the Cincinnati Bengals (Who-Dey!) and acting as one of the the Captains and helping as a Fitness Coach. In 2009 I was honored to carry the title of Ms.Fitness Universe. Then, in 2011, I found myself on the verge of divorce with a newborn. I clung to what I knew best and cried out to God for direction. I desired to be the best mother possible to my handsome son Easton, I knew healthy living would become a lifestyle in both the spiritual and physical senses. My love of good food and drive to lose the baby weight (am I right y’all?) produced multiple healthy recipes and fitness programs that I have been able to pass along women on their healthy living journeys. I love teaching workout classes and I currently teach a free workout class on Monday nights in Cincinnati, OH. I am excited to continue sharing tips and motivations from one woman to another.

Cincy Chic: What inspired you to incorporate faith in your website?
Farmer: The anchor in my life is The Lord. It is this relationship and walk with Our Savior that daily motivates me to be everything that he has created for me to be, nothing more and nothing less. The Lord is my best friend, my provision, my way-maker and ultimately my “Father”. The whispers in the stillness of night and the still small voice amongst life’s most stressful seasons have beaconed me to “Dream Big, But Believe Bigger.” It is my hope that as you navigate this site and peek into my life from the angles of Business, Entrepreneurship, Faith, Fitness, Fashion & Skinny Cooking that you are inspired to live your life to its fullest. While confidently knowing that until you discover (and walk out) who God created you to be, you will never be satisfied.

Cincy Chic: Can you tell us more about your online store? 
Farmer: You can shop our online store to purchase apparel, books, CDs, vitamins, and so much more!

Cincy Chic: Where can readers go to learn more and follow along?
Farmer: Join us at brookeanddaron.com and join us on our social media channels including Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and YouTube. You can also shop our store 24/7 by clicking here.

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Marvel continues its comic book domination with the 90s nostalgic Captain Marvel. See what our critic has to say.

 

“Jean who? Do I look like Famke Janssen to you? DO I?!” Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) goes into full fire mode as the titular character in Marvel Studios’ latest cinematic adventure CAPTAIN MARVEL. Credit: Film Frame © 2019 Marvel Studios.

 

WATCH THE TRAILER(S) HERE:

 

 

KEY CAST MEMBERS: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law, Lashana Lynch, Clark Gregg, Gemma Chan, Lee Pace, Annette Benning and Djimon Honsou with McKenna Grace and Akira Akbar

DIRECTOR(S): Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck

THE BACK STORY: Vers (Brie Larson) is a part of an elite star force from Hala, home to the noble warriors known as the Kree. Trained by Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), Vers is locked in to a battle against the shape-shifting Skrulls, led by the seemingly ruthless Talos (Ben Mendelsohn). Under the guidance of both Yon-Rogg and the god-like artificial intelligence known as the Supreme Intelligence (Anette Benning), Vers is training to become the best warrior she can to save her people from the Skrulls intended domination.

But while she trains to become a super soldier (hmmm … Wonder where we’ve heard that before?), Vers is haunted by the nightmares – or are those memories? – of a life she seems to have lived before. Who is the mysterious woman the Supreme Intelligence keeps taking the form of when it communicates with Vers? After all, the Supreme Intelligence is supposed to only take the form of the person you admire the most, right? Why does she keep having visions of airplanes and a woman (Lashana Lynch) … And why can she not fully control the powerful photon blasts that come from her hands? 

Well, once the battle between the Skrulls and Kree reaches the planet home to a young government agent named Nicholas J. Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and the newly hired Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), Vers – as she is known among the Kree – is about to find out. 

And the Marvel Universe will never be the same once she does. 

THE REVIEW: Despite all the efforts multiple entities have made, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and his team obviously either have not received or simply have ignored the current anti-bullying effort sweeping across America. Because every time he and his cohorts release a new superhero/comic book-based film from Marvel’s expansive collection, it serves to simply remind all D.C. Comics fans that while they can continue to hold out hope, hope is all they have at this point. For if this was a fight, the referee would have called it at this point or let D.C. face an Apollo Creed-like fate at the hands of Marvel’s Ivan Drago.

Captain Marvel is the latest proof that anything D.C. can do, Marvel can do and possibly always do better – and it’s not even close.

Don’t get me wrong: Patty Jenkins’ stellar Wonder Woman is arguably the best D.C. Comics movie ever made. (Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy is its own thing; it’s like comparing Michael Jordan’s championships to Robert Horry’s. Sorry Big Shot Rob, but it’s true!) And while Captain Marvel may not be quite as good as the lady with the golden lasso, it’s really good and does something far better than any D.C. release in terms of (1) introducing a character that (2) has a major significance to (3) an entire cinematic universe that (4) only keeps getting better as it expands.

Whereas Justice League was an utter atrocity compared to Wonder Woman (and well, most superhero films in general), Captain Marvel hits all the beats is needs in anticipation of next month’s Avengers: Endgame and then some. Larson, an actress that one could argue wouldn’t likely come to most moviegoers’ minds when they think of a potential action star, gives her version of Carol Danvers a sly sense of humor and all the confidence needed to make her believable in the role. One can almost imagine Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot calling her agent and saying “You mean I could have done THAT superhero movie?!” with all the furor of the average NFL star demanding a trade from a contending team, only to end up on the NY Jets. Larson’s evolution of the character works in a way an established action star’s would not, all of which Carol Danvers a marvelous captain of her own ship (or as the case may be, plane).

Jackson, seen here as a younger, dual ocular version of Nick Fury, plays well as a more in experienced version of S.H.I.E.L.D. counterpart while Lynch comes off like a younger Viola Davis (and that’s meant in a positive, complimentary sense). Of course, the precocious performance of Akbar will steal most adults hearts – you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more wide-eyed, charming child in a superhero movie this year – Mendelsohn’s turn at Talos might be the best of the entire film; without spoiling anything, it’s a key performance that, like the rest of the cast, helps round out Larson’s character while making sure his own is far from afterthought.

Throw in a well-written, not-so-easy to predict plot and an equally well-paced story under the eye of co-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck and you’ve got enough to inspire little girls to follow their dreams while making men and women of all ages salivate in anticipation of what will happen next month. The 90s references (oh, Blockbuster Video …) are perfectly timed pieces of humorous nostalgia, the action sequences aren’t needless story filler and the film draws you in its journey across the universe in excellent fashion … And the tribute to the late Stan Lee is just perfect as is his cameo, which hopefully won’t be his last.

Now with everything queued up for the next Avengers movie, Captain Marvel will ensure Marvel continues its quest for world domination … Or, at the very least, making sure D.C. stays in distant second place with a simple snap of their fingers.

OVERALL RATING (OUT OF FOUR POSSIBLE BUCKETS OF POPCORN):

 

 

 

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From a dependable last minute sitter and summer camp pick up or study help and an extra hand around the house, learn about a local service that's a life-saver for moms.

Lauren Hardy (right) SMS Cincinnati owner, and Melissa Wolfe (left) SMS Fort Worth owner

Thanks to Sitting Made Simple, you can easily connect with local babysitters.

“We make finding a babysitter easy for families in the Queen City,” says Lauren Hardy, Founder of Sitting Made Simple Cincinnati. “Whether you need a last-minute sitter, before and after school care, summer sitting – Sitting Made Simple Cincinnati has you covered.”

Sitting Made Simple was originally launched in Columbus a little over 10 years ago by Amanda Knapp. She then decided to franchise the brand about four years ago and Sitting Made Simple is now offered in nine major U.S. cities with goals to open more later this year.

The inspiration behind Sitting Made Simple in Cincinnati comes from Hardy’s own desire to provide other families in the city and community with a needed childcare option.

“I always had a hard time finding safe, qualified caregivers to watch my children, and I was always left so frustrated,” she explains. “We had tried everything and it felt like our options always revolved around someone else’s schedule or time.”

Sitting Made Simple offers everything from last-minute sitters to sick kids, holiday sitters, summer sitters, before and after school drop-offs and pickups, family sharing options, and church or event sitting.

“We really do it all,” says Hardy. “We offer spring, summer, and fall programs for those who know that they have regular care needs and want to set up a sitter in advance. We also offer booking discounts for those booking days in bulk to keep it easy, and also have a referral program for members.”

Existing members who refer new families can get free scheduling fees and earn credits toward nights out.

Currently, Sitting Made Simple is preparing for the summer program, which begins sign ups on March 4. And because Sitting Made Simple is in nine different cities, members of Sitting Made Simple can sign up for care in any of those cities to help make travel easier.

While the services available are convenient for busy families, Sitting Made Simple is unique in that it does all the hardwork for you.

“We do all of our own interviews in person,” says Hardy. “There is no one that I hire that I would not let watch my own children. We go through a rigorous background and driving check, we gather references, and lastly and most importantly, we CPR train all of our sitters.”

Additionally, all of the sitters from Sitting Made Simple are held to a higher standard and are held accountable for their appointments.

“If there is ever an issue, there is always someone in the office who is ready to take care of it and solve the problem, should one arise,” adds Hardy. “We are full-service, not just an app or a website, there is a local mom behind it all and I am always here for you.”

Hardy says Sitting Made Simple is always on the lookout for new businesses to partner with as they offer corporate memberships with employee discounts and free scheduling credits.

To learn more about Sitting Made Simple, click here< www.sittingmadesimple.com/cincinnati >, follow along on Instagram<@sms_cincinnati>, or “like” them on Facebook<@SMS Cincinnati >.

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Learn about a local gift wrapping service that not only takes that to-do off your list, but offers custom wrapping that’ll add a huge wow factor!

 

Cincy Chic: What is The Wraperie?
Hilary Halverstadt, Owner of The Wraperie:The Wraperie is a custom gift wrapping service located in Park Hills, Kentucky. We serve the greater Cincinnati area with our custom gift wrapping for all occasions.

Cincy Chic: What’s the inspiration behind your business?

Halverstadt: It was my vision to have my own gift wrapping business one day to help save time for customers and to not just wrap but design “looks” for wrapping, similar to my fashion background. Our custom wrapping looks are unique, ever-changing, and customized to create joy! Gifts are something personal and the wrapping should mirror that.

Cincy Chic: Who’s behind it?

Halverstadt: I’m Hilary and the CEO of The Wraperie. I have a Fashion Merchandising degree from Kent State University (near Cleveland) and have worked previously in the retail business. I noticed with many larger department stores and even boutiques, the gift wrapping department was extinct. Customers especially during the yearly demanding holiday season were asking about gift wrapping. All the store could offer was maybe a box or bag with a small amount of ribbon or two pieces of tissue paper. This was concerning to me because running out and buying materials to gift wrap is not what buyers want to do after hours of shopping! It’s very time consuming.

Cincy Chic: What types of wrapping services do you offer?
Halverstadt: We offer custom gift wrapping for every occasion at our office: 1522 Dixie Highway, Suite#145 in Park Hills, Kentucky. We do offer our services by appointment. We also do pop-up events, window displays using our gift designs, along with gift wrapping for corporate events including wrapping on-site (in someone’s home) within the greater Cincinnati area.

Cincy Chic: What makes The Wraperie unique?
Halverstadt: The Wraperie is unique and a one-of-a-kind service in the greater Cincinnati area. The concept of custom gift wrapping has been well-received and has helped our customers save time. I haven’t heard of any other custom gift wrapping service to match the customers’ needs in the Tri-State.

Cincy Chic: Is there anything new on the horizon for your business?

Halverstadt: The Wraperie initially focused on the holiday season, which is the busiest time of the year, along with many pop-up events. We are a year-round business and plan to extend our market with other special occasions as well, such as the bridal season, graduations, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and birthdays.

Cincy Chic: Where can readers go to learn more and follow along?

Halverstadt: Your readers can “like” our Facebook page, follow us on Instagram, or send us an email.

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Findlay Market is offering a new way to dine and aims to make it a truly social experience. Keep reading for the tasty details.

Social O.T.R. is a communal dining space in Findlay Market.

Findlay Market’s non-profit restaurant Social O.T.R. recently opened its doors to the public on February 7. Operated by The Corporation for findlay Market, in partnership with CityLink Center, offers guests a one-of-a-kind communal dining experience with a socially-minded mission.

According to Findlay Market’s Director of Communications Kelly Lanser, Social O.T.R. is more than just a restaurant.

“The back of house is fully staffed by students in CityLink Center’s Findlay Culinary Training Program, which is a skills-based program meant to develop the next generation of culinary talent for Cincinnati’s food service industry,” says Lanser.

The students who participate in the CityLink program spend four weeks there learning life skills, such as financial education, healthy communication, and conflict resolution as well as culinary skills, which takes place in the Culinary Lab and is taught by Director of Culinary Education, Chef Lindsey Cook.

“Upon completion, students then enter a 3-month internship at Social O.T.R., where they are led by Executive Chef, Jennifer Kemplin,” says Lanser. “Employment specialist, Samantha Dewald, works directly with students during their time at Social O.T.R. to have industry jobs lined up once they complete the program.”

Social O.T.R. features a main dining room with two large communal tables, as well as other small tables that are made by the Cincinnati Wood Collaborative. There’s also a full bar at the front of the restaurant.

“An exposed brick hallway leads guests past the kitchen, with large windows looking in, to the back lounge area, called The Alley at Social, with another communal table and a bar,” says Lanser.

The menu at Social O.T.R. is designed to be shared, and consists of all small plates inspired by local ingredients. “Guests are encouraged to try a little bit of everything and enjoy a social dining experience,” she adds.

Social O.T.R. is open Tuesday through Sunday at 4 pm, with dinner service beginning at 5 pm. The Alley at Social is open until 12 am.

Social O.T.R. is located at 1819 Elm Street, across from Findlay Market. To learn more, visit socialotr.com.

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There’s a tasty new treat in town. Click to indulge in details about this Liberty Center pastry shop full of chic sweets!

Cincy Chic: What is Le Macaron Liberty Center?
Marina Amaral, Owner of Le Macaron Liberty Center: It is a French Pastries shop where you can find the very unique flavors made by a French chef. You can feel the best flavors in town.

Cincy Chic: What’s the inspiration behind it?
Amaral: A mom and daughter opened the first store in Sarasota, Fl and 10 years ago they launched the franchise.. With more than 50 stores in Florida, California and others. The Liberty Center location is the first in Ohio.

Cincy Chic: Who’s behind it?
Amaral: I am! Since I moved to this area I always wanted to have a different kind of place to eat – a pastry or gelato spot like they have in my home country of Brazil.

Cincy Chic: Where is Le Macaron Liberty Center located?
Amaral: We’re at 7529 Bales Street in Liberty Township.

Cincy Chic: What items can readers find in-store?
Amaral: We have macarons, eclairs, tarts, croissants, French gelato, coffee, tea, and other beverages.

Cincy Chic: what makes Le Macaron Liberty Center unique?
Amaral: The tastes and the quality of each ingredient – we have vanilla from Madagascar, chocolates from Belgium, and pistachios from Italy to name a few.

Cincy Chic: Is there anything new on the horizon?
Amaral: My first idea is bringing the cafe idea of not being in a rush and offering good music and good food. The future is on my mind – but for now it’s a secret!

Cincy Chic: Where can readers go to learn more and follow along?
Amaral: We’re on Facebook, Instagram, and have a website.

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This genre-bending flick proves there can be plenty of fun, romance in a serial killer thriller. Read on as our movie critic explains.

 

“Wait a minute … Didn’t this happen the last time I starred in this movie?!” Tree (Jessica Rothe) experiences deja vú in a scene from HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U. Credit: Universal Pictures © 2019 Universal Studios

 

WATCH THE TRAILER(S) HERE:

 

 

KEY CAST MEMBERS: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Phi Vu, Suraj Sharma, Sarah Yarkin, Rachel Matthews, Ruby Modine, Steve Zissis, Rob Mello and Charles Aitken

DIRECTOR(S): Christopher Landon

THE BACK STORY: Did you happen to catch 2017’s Happy Death Day? If not, you might have missed what happened when young college student Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) got murdered on her birthday, only to wake up in the bed of fellow college student Carter (Israel Broussard) … Who was nice enough to try to bring her home before she got killed … And then go through the rest of her day, only to get murdered again. Then she found out who was her killer – SPOILER ALERT: It was her jealous roomie Lori (Ruby Modine) – and then she was able to break the loop and begin living her life again without the threat of a baby-masked assassin coming to kill her. 

Or so she thought.

For you see, Happy Death Day 2U begins with Ryan (Phi Vu) dying at the hands of a baby-faced killer. And then he wakes up in his garbage-filled car, only to get back to his room where he catches Tree and Carter about to … embrace. And once he starts describing what happened to him, Tree quickly realizes much to her horror what is happening: The loop has started all over again, only this time it’s affecting Ryan. Thus, you can imagine her shock, horror and anger when she discovers both loops were inadvertently created by Ryan and his fellow science students Samar (Suraj Sharma) and Dre (Sarah Yarkin) due to a time-altering device they’ve nicknamed “Sissy.” 

And that’s when things get REALLY weird – I’d say more, but it would ruin all the surprises. But if there’s one last thing Tree is looking for, it’s surprises; unfortunately for her, there are plenty of surprises on the way that is going to alter her reality in ways she never, ever envisioned in this dimension – or any others for that matter. 

THE REVIEW: Are you in search of a film this Valentine’s Day that (1) will make you laugh at the most unexpected, surreal scenario possible while (2) delivering a few cheap scares while still somehow (3) being self-deprecating to the point it might be one of the smarter films of its genre-bending ilk which in turn (4) makes it inexplicably entertaining and dare one suggest one of the most genuine-in-an-extremely-absurd-way romantic comedies in quite some time? If the answer to all of those winding enough to drive the average editor nuts questions is “yes,” look no further.

For Happy Death Day 2U is a must-see that deserves praise not seen since Scream made people say the name “Skeet Ulrich” with reverence.

Boasting a keen sense of self-awareness and a wicked-funny yet strong performance by Rothe, Happy Death Day 2U does the thing that is extremely rare with movies rooted in a horror/thriller mold: Not only live up to the original, but surpass it. Whereas the original Happy Death Day felt like a silly-yet-enjoyable one-off, 2U provides a back story that expands its characters growth without losing any of its predecessor’s charm. Of course, that is due largely to Rothe’s ability to make her Groundhog Day-like existence consistently intriguing while making you root for her as her quest continues. It’s almost like writer/director Christopher Landon and the rest of the Blumhouse team (the production company responsible for hits like Paranormal Activity, Insidious, Get Out and the most recent Halloween remake/sequel/way to keep making money off that franchise) found out about Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and said “How could we make a movie like that with a killer and keep all the humor?”

To her credit, Rothe does something rarely seen in horror-esque movies: Act. Like really, really act. She makes Tree equal parts crazy yet determined, hilarious yet not a caricature while at the same time using her skills to help make fun of and show reverence for the very genre that may make her a star. Playing well off of her co-stars Vu and Broussard, 2U is Rothe’s show the way the Golden State Warriors are Seth Curry’s team (at least, pre-Kevin Durant). And while the movie – which does have its fair share of “Ok, that’s corny even for this movie” moments and it is kinda easy to figure out who’s behind the mask if you pay a lick of attention – isn’t perfect, it’s got a great mix of comedy, thrills and irreverence to prove itself worthy of being a sequel.

In fact, given that it’s releasing just in time for Valentine’s Day, Happy Death Day 2U might just be the most romantic way to show your significant other you really love them … By watching a film breathe new life into a genre that can always use some.

OVERALL RATING (OUT OF FOUR POSSIBLE BUCKETS OF POPCORN):