Athens’ little secrets

Here is something that may surprise you: Athens has a lot to do! But not every student makes the effort to check out some unique spots in-and-around Athens. So we decided to take you to a few places beyond Court Street that students may not think about when they explore Athens.

 

Athens Farmers Market

Make sure to check out this market on Saturdays from 9am-12pm on Saturdays, 9am-12pm Wednesdays (April-December) and 4pm-7pm Thursdays (May-September). Athens favorites such as Jackie O’s and Casa Nueva have booths where they sell some of their best foods (such as bread and salsa). Check it out though to see all the vendors, you can even grab a slice of pizza or a vegetable taco for lunch!

The Athens Farmers Market is located on 1000 East State Street, inside the parking lot of the Athens Mall. Here is the map if you want to find it. Starting in the fall of 2016, there will be a bus that will take you to the farmers market if you do not have a car.

Directions to the market from Court Street (in front of College Green)
Directions to the market from Court Street (in front of College Green) via Google Maps

 

Strouds Run State Park

About 15 minutes outside of Ohio University is a state park that stretches over 2,606 acres and includes hiking trails and a beach for anyone to enjoy. On a perfect day, this is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the weather. At Strouds, there are almost 80 campsites and 35 miles of trails that you can hike on (25 of those miles can be open to bikes).

The park is located on 11661 State Park Road in Athens, here is a map for directions.

Directions to Strouds Run from Court Street (in front of College Green)
Directions to Strouds Run from Court Street (in front of College Green) via Google Maps

Premiere Video

 

 

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzNVtHkqNKw

In an age where video stores close in favor of websites like Netflix and Amazon, Premiere Video serves as the exception that video stores cannot compete against the Internet. This store has hundreds of movie titles (both DVDs and VHS tapes) and offer great deals on a regular basis. So if you have a DVD player and/or a VCR, look no further than Premier Video for your movie needs.

Premiere Video is located on 284 East State Street.

Directions to Premiere Video from Court Street (in front of College Green)
Directions to Premiere Video from Court Street (in front of College Green) via Google Maps

 

ReUse Thrift Store

You can't miss the colorful facade of ReUse, their sign is just as quirky as the store.
You can’t miss the colorful facade of ReUse, their sign is just as quirky as the store.

ReUse is located on 100 Columbus Rd. On a nice day, enjoy a 40 minute walk from Campus taking W Carpenter St. all of the way until you hit Columbus Rd. There is also a bus that you can take for that costs a dollar per trip. Honestly, this thrift store has character. They have everything from clothes for 25 cents to cheap silverware and the occasional Hula girl. If you want to pull together a complete look for under five dollars while simultaneously getting a taste of real Athens county, ReUse is a must-go.

The Antique Mall 

I had a hard time leaving the antique mall without feeling sentimental.
There is something about antique malls that makes one feel mighty sentimental.

Make a day of thrifting on the West side of Athens. Just down the road from ReUse at 180 Columbus Rd. rests an AMAZING antique mall. The Athens Antique Mall is two floors of Appalachian gold. They have vintage clothing, mirrors, old books, records, trinkets and boxes galore. Even if you don’t have the money, making a trip to look around and see artifacts and history is well worth it. Plus you never know what you will find …

https://www.instagram.com/p/BEm5rXPEzgf/?taken-by=dap_menny

 

Hopefully none of you will say, “oh I wish I visited…” once you graduate from OU. These three places are just the tip of the iceberg, there are many places around town to visit and experience.

So what are you waiting for? Go out and explore Athens!

 

 

 

 

The Union Bar holds a cherished history

A Saturday night in the beloved city of Athens is one of a kind. Whether it be spent with friends at your favorite bar, at the historic Athena, or with a Whitzer in hand, nightlife in Athens draws people together.

But for many, it is The Union Bar and Grille that sets nightlife in Athens apart from the rest – the wooden interior and the resulting aroma, the beloved history of the building itself, the eclectic collection of townies and hipsters resembling townies, and the sense of closeness and acceptance exchanged between bar regulars. It is these things and many, many more that have shaped The Union into what has grown to be so cherished in the hearts of the Athens community.

On November 16th, 2014, news broke of the devastating fire that destroyed several buildings along Union Street at 4 a.m. the day, including the beloved Union Bar and Grill. The Union reached out to the Athens community regarding the news via Facebook.

To the Union extended family, I’m sad to report that early this morning a fire started on our block of Union Street. Though firefighters made heroic efforts to contain the blaze, it quickly spread down the street to us. I currently don’t know the full extent of the damage but it is very extensive. Thankfully no one was injured, but The Union as we knew it is no more. I truly appreciate all the offers of help and warm sentiments. The Union was a second home to so many of us (including myself), it makes my heart ache. As I know more I will try to keep this page updated. Hopefully the place will have a good phoenix story coming soon.

In March of 2015, Athens City council members made the decision to declare the buildings destroyed in the fire a “historic district”.

The charm of the Union Bar and Grille can be attributed to its cherished and diverse history. The building itself has been around since 1900, making it one of the oldest buildings destroyed in the fire. According to Athens News, the building was purchased in 1945 by the father of The Union’s previous, the Couladis brothers. Before Mr. Couladis purchased the building, it was home to a variety of businesses, includingThe Elk Hotel and a bar/restaurant called The Hot Dog.

In 1924, according to Athens Messenger, it was converted into a residence hall for Ohio University students. Eric Gunn, current owner of The Union Bar and Grill told Athens Messenger, “Around the 1960s, upstairs became what it is now. Downstairs has pretty much stayed the same up until the remodel in 2008.”

To current residents of Athens, The Union Bar and Grille was known for its music scene. Over the years, The Union has hosted some of the biggest names in music, including The White Stripes and The Black Keys, according to The Athens News. But what sets The Union apart is its loyalty to local musicians. Blond, a “reverb rock” band based in Athens, was the last band to play at The Union before the November 16th fire, according to The Union’s Facebook page.

As far as the rebuilding of the Union, progress has been slow. Several local news affiliates believed the rebuilding process to have been completed by the end of summer 2015, but a portion of W. Union remains blocked off.

What are you favorite memories of The Union Bar and Grill? Let us know!

Why you should help Keep Noah Rolling this Thanksgiving

Editor’s note: In a nod to the Thanksgiving holiday, reporters for the Shopping section of Court Street Stories have decided to “shop” for a local Athens charity. What better way to say “thanks” than to find an organization worthy of a donation or volunteer work? And full disclosure: Both the author (Dan Shisler) and editor (Bob Benz) of this story are part of Keep Noah Rolling, the organization that’s attempting to secure funds for Noah’s van.

 Thanksgiving, for many Americans, means a time to stuff themselves, watch the Detroit Lions, get their holiday shopping done or purchase a new set of appliances at an insanely low price. Yet the true spirit of Thanksgiving, giving thanks, often sadly takes a back seat to more commercial and materialistic interests.

I would like to gently remind our readers to put the turkey, football and discounts aside for a moment, and take some time to count your blessings. This holiday is a great opportunity to give thanks for all the small things that many people take for granted every day. For example: the basic abilities to walk and talk. Now, imagine your life without them.

Noah Trembly
Noah Trembly

For Noah Trembly, an Athens resident, that is his reality. Noah has cerebral palsy. Since birth, Noah has been living with a condition that prevents him from performing the most mundane actions that able-bodied people perform mindlessly every day. Noah uses a motorized wheelchair to move around and a sophisticated communication device to speak. At first glance, many people see a broken man. But I assure you: sitting inside that uncooperative body is a brilliant mind, a deviously witty sense of humor and a genuine and selfless soul.

I first learned about Noah in my strategic communication senior capstone class at Ohio University, when my professor, Bob Benz, announced that we would be working on a special project: helping one of his disabled friends raise money for a new handicap-accessible van. At first, I thought it was a good cause, but the kind of thing you hear about all the time. Just another guy in a wheelchair, just another charity case. Until I met Noah.

When Noah came to speak to the class, I could sense there was something different about him. The way he rolled into the classroom with bright eyes and a devilish grin instantly gave credence to Benz’s many anecdotes of an infectious and amicable personality. Noah, speaking through his device, told us his story. He told us how he has been living with this terrible condition his entire life. He told us about how it was an incredible struggle for him to get through school. He told us how one of his principals told his mother that he would probably never amount to anything, that he would probably never live a fulfilling or meaningful life.

The principal couldn’t have been more wrong.

Noah Trembly has been defying the odds ever since. His story is one of resilience and inspiration. Noah did not let his condition define him; he has overcome expectations and defined himself. Noah lives independently, albeit with the constant assistance of a caregiver. But that hasn’t stopped him from living his own life. Noah is a Grateful Dead fan. Noah is a skier. Noah is a gardener. Noah is a vegetarian (in fact, you may have seen him zipping around the Athens Farmers Market). Noah is an artist. But most importantly, Noah is a worker.

Noah, working through his company, Noah Trembly Enterprises, is an advocate for the disabled and a handicap-accessibility consultant. He is currently heading an initiative to improve the quality and wheelchair accessibility of sidewalks in Athens. Noah has consulted for Ohio University and has even been a lecturer at the institution. For someone with no control over his vocal cords, Noah speaks a lot. In fact, Noah has traveled throughout the state and the country giving talks. For travel, Noah relies on an old and decrepit van that is on its last legs. For Noah’s meaningful work to continue, a new van is essential.

The decked-out van Keep Noah Rolling is raising money for.
The decked-out van Keep Noah Rolling is raising money for.

Our capstone class devised a social media strategy to raise awareness and produce donations for Keep Noah Rolling, the charity whose goal it is to raise the $60,000 required for a new accessible van. With the help of Tony’s Tavern and Jackie O’s Brewpub, we held an event on Nov. 14 that we called Keep Noah Shuffling, our take on the age-old Court Street tradition. But instead of raising our BAC, we raised money for a great cause. A portion of every signature Tony’s Hot Nut sold that night went directly to the new van. Jackie O’s even brewed a very tasty beer especially for the occasion, with $2 from every pint sold going directly to the cause. We also accepted donations from generous patrons. All said and done, we raised over $2,000 that night. Unfortunately, that accounts for only a fraction of our lofty goal. For me though, the reward was the expression on Noah’s face after the event.

While we counted the donations in front of him at the end of the night, Noah’s face lit up and he let out what I’ve come to know as one of his signature bouts of boisterous belly-laughter. His smile was that of a man overwhelmed with gratitude for the tremendous outpouring of support from the community, local businesses, friends and total strangers alike. Our event was but the start of a movement; we still have a long road ahead of us.

Like so many of us, Noah simply wants to live independently, without government assistance, and to lead a fulfilling and meaningful life. Noah doesn’t want a donation; he wants an investment. By investing in Noah, you are investing in his ability to help enable and empower others in similar situations.

So this Thanksgiving, give thanks, give a damn, and give your support to this wonderful cause.

For those interested in donating, you can do so here. If you can’t support Noah financially, please like and share his Facebook page here.

 

group shot
Author Dan Shisler, Bob Benz and the rest of the Keep Noah Rolling capstone team.

 

Experience the Athens Farmers Market

Whether the sun shines down, baking everything to a sweaty crisp, or the first frost of winter blows through the barren tree branches, the Farmers Market in Athens, OH stands strong. The hardworking farmers welcome patrons with friendly smiles and tantalizing samples of crisp produce. For two days each week, you can count on these farmers being set up and ready to go before many people even open their eyes in the morning.

Pumpkins grown by Mitch's Produce and Greenhouse
Pumpkins grown by Mitch’s Produce and Greenhouse

Every Wednesday and Saturday, from 9 a.m. to noon, the Athens Farmers Market thrives. When the chill of December sets in, the event is cut down to a Saturday-only time frame until the weather warms again in April. The fresh produce changes with the season, but the vendors are (for the most part) the same year round.

You can always count on the little old man selling his wife’s delicious pies, complete with cut-out-heart-crust toppings. His favorite is black raspberry, and I agree with him. The filling-to-crust ratio is nothing short of perfection.

“Sometimes, when there are leftovers, she scoops up the extra black raspberry filling into crust, and folds it over. Like a little fried pie! It’s delicious,” he says.

Continuing down the line of vendors, it seems there are endless amounts of fresh produce. With fall fading to winter, baskets overflow with sweet potatoes. Boxes showcase piles of pumpkins and butternut squash, ready for baking into sweet Thanksgiving dishes. The sweet corn of summer is no more. Instead, farmers provide the beautiful Indian corn, fine for popcorn or fall décor.

Enjoying the sweet almond raspberry tartelette from Z Bakery
Enjoying the sweet almond raspberry tartelette from Z Bakery

While the farmers are aplenty, you can also find local bakeries and restaurants selling their products under tarp-covered tents. Artisan breads, warm pizza, and sweet tartelettes are sold by Jackie O’s, Avalanche Pizza, and Z Bakery. These treats don’t disappoint. The sweet almond raspberry tartelette from Z Bakery is the perfect size to enjoy for breakfast while walking down the extensive aisle of fresh foods.

On a lucky day, you can be greeted with any number of free samples. Savory cheeses, vibrant salsas, crisp apples, and bold dips await the leisurely shoppers toting environmentally-friendly bags filled with fresh finds.

“Do you like this garlic dip?” says one farmer. The dip is flavorful atop a crunchy slice of sweet potato. “Here’s the recipe. I made it because I really need to sell more sweet potatoes,” she says. I fall for her sales tactics and buy a basket of sweet potatoes.

Many people receive more samples as they pass the Cantrell Honey table.

“Didn’t you know that redheads get honey straws today?” The vendor’s smile and attitude is sweeter than the honey he hands to me. Oftentimes, there are children at the market, with tiny feet running from parents and tinier fingers clutching tightly to their free honey straws.

At the Market, kindness overflows more than the produce overflows its containers. Warm chitchat fills the quiet morning air. The farmers extend graciousness to shoppers, maintaining a strong relationship and making regulars of the customers. The volume of voices increases as the late-risers bustle in before noon, when the sun is directly overhead and the vendors start folding in their tents and packing away their leftovers.

When leaving the Athens Farmers Market, there is excitement. The excitement of farmers, who leave with a reward for their hard work. The excitement of shoppers, ready to craft meals from the produce made by all of the hands they just shook while buying that produce. The excitement to return within a week, hungry for more.

History of the HallOUween t-shirt

Traditions are rich in Athens, Ohio. A crowd favorite: HallOUween and the famous block party that brings hundreds of out-of-towners to the small town to dress up and celebrate. What would this tradition be without proper annual documentation?

Kevin Morgan, a local artist, has spent the past 34 falls creating specific t-shirt designs to coincide with the wild weekend’s events. From sugar skulls to this years “OU Attack Cat”, his individual style remains consistent but the design never repeats. The t-shirts are sold annually at Uptown Dog, on Union Street, the store Morgan started himself.

According to the Post, Morgan makes about $2,000 each Halloween. But for him, it’s not about the money. He simply loves creating art.

Starting October 25 and continuing until November 25, Morgan’s work from the past 34 HallOUweens will be on display at Jackie O’s Taproom and Brewery at 25 Campbell St. Here’s a glimpse of sketches Morgan has etched over the years. To see more make sure to stop by the brewery!

IMG_1542 A retro skeleton in 2000.

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A flaming design for the 1993 sketch.
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A red sugar skull in 2012.
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This design was in honor of his 40th anniversary.

 

 

Top 7 relationships in Athens, Ohio

We have all heard about the Hollywood celebrity dating scene, but I bet you didn’t know we have our own celebrity couples in Athens, Ohio. The rich and famous have made their way to our college town and I bet you run into them more than you think. That’s right, I’m talking about the bars and restaurants that are open after dark. We crowd them, take pictures, and follow their every move. You have been so focused on your favorite that I’m sure you haven’t noticed that they are all secretly in relationships. It’s true, and we have the inside scoop for you!

JACKIEOS_UPTOWN

Jackie-O’s and Uptown Grill

Let’s start with two of the most famous establishments in Athens, Jackie-O’s and Uptown Grill. These love birds have been eyeing each other from across the street for years. After hanging out, listening to music, and enjoying the unique beers Jackie-O’s has, you can walk down the street and order the famous Chicken and Waffle sandwich. This is one couple you do not want to mess with.

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Big Mamma’s Burritos and Casa Nueva

Big Mamma’s Burritos and Casa Nueva is one couple that is juat too hot to ignore. They are both so bold, but together would be a powerhouse. If you start to get hungry after too many margaritas, your next stop should be Big Mamma’s for one of their signature burritos. While there is a separation between them, these star crossed lovers can’t be separated. Te amo!

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Broney’s Alumni Grill and D.P. Dough

Our next couple may be long distance, but Broney’s Alumni Grill and D.P. Dough will always be close at heart. With the word “alumni” in the name, it’s safe to assume that a lot of alums visit while reliving their glory days. Since they are veterans, they know how to beat the hangovers. They can order their calzones and meet it in the hotel, just in time for bed!

TONYS_INSOM

Tony’s and Insomnia Cookies

What is better than cookies and coffee? Nothing. Tony’s and Insomnia Cookies is a match made in Heaven. After drinking a Hot Nut, a mixture of coffee and liquor, the only thing that would make your night better would be a warm cookie! The best part is that Insomnia is open until 3 am, so you can pick it up on your way home!

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Pigskin and Kisers on Court BBQ

Life would be a “boar” without Pigskin and Kiser’s BBQ together. This relationship was a no brainer. Nothing goes together like beer, BBQ, and country music. These two have just that! Kiser’s on Court is now open until 3 am on Friday and Saturday. This combination would be the perfect “cure” for any weekend night!

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Union Street Diner, Cat’s Den, and The Smiling Skull

Here in Athens, Ohio, we don’t judge. When we heard that Union Street Dinner, Cat’s Den, and The Smiling Skull were in a relationship together, we welcomed them with open arms. All three of these places are located on Union Street and you can’t have one without the other. While these bars are considered “townie” bars, students just can’t resist them. After listening to the music and sitting on the patio, the only other logical stop would be the dinner. Thankfully it’s open 24/7.

BW3

Buffalo Wild Wings

And, of course, there’s always that one friend that will fall into the “forever alone” category. That friend is Buffalo Wild Wings. This restaurant serves food and alcohol late into the night. Between the beer, wings, and giant TV’s, why would you need anything else? Don’t worry BW3’s; we still love you!

Since the lifestyles of the rich and famous are constantly changing, what relationships are your favorites? Comment below and tell us your favorite duo in Athens, Ohio. You never know who might be next!

All photos and graphics of Athens, Ohio were taken and made by Hannah Funderburg

Campus Sundry’s demise prompts search for Ghosts of Athens

A man once told me I had to stop looking at the past if I ever wanted to get ahead in life. I was in the Campus Sundry, buying God knows what (I’ve been through phases) and watching the 2010 Winter Olympics with the owner, Paul Abraham. I don’t know why I remember that moment so vividly. It was generic advice, admittedly, and there were countless other life lessons I learned from him. The Sundry was where my friends stopped before heading home after a night out partying. He had the cheapest tobacco in town and a friendly dog he called Star.

Abraham died in 2011, and with him The Campus Sundry died too. One of the best parts of the Athens night life is the adventure home, and for me that almost always included a stop at The Sundry. Now it’s gone; Athens has moved on without it and another store is left to deal with my late-night alter-ego.

The empty shell that was once my favorite store was heavily damaged recently in a fire that affected several businesses on Union Street, indefinitely closing another Athens staple: The Union Bar and Grill. It was the place where I had my first … college experience. Now I may never go there again. I could never have imagined this town without those places.

The Union and The Sundry got me thinking. Athens is a historic town with an old and great university. There had to be other places that closed down that defined the Athens experience for past students, only to be replaced with establishments that define mine.

At the top of Morton Hill there used to be an empty building next to the Church of the Good Shepherd. It was boarded up, but it did house a functioning Chase ATM on the side until it was torn down my sophomore year. That building was once known as The Oasis, and it was a deli/convenience store combo that was on campus for over a century.

The Oasis was for many students the same thing that The Sundry was for me, the last stop before home. It suffered a similar fate. With the passing of owner John Farley in 2002, The Oasis was sold to Ohio University, which closed it only four years later. Erin Councilman, a 1999 alumna and former Oasis employee, said the school didn’t want The Oasis to compete with the new Baker University Center.

“There was talk of doing various things with the building,” she said. “My favorite was the organic grocery store. What are students going to do with an on-campus organic grocery store? Then, as I recall, asbestos was found in the attic, and asbestos abatement would have cost much more than the building was worth to save, so we were left with the green space we have today.”

According to Councilman, The Oasis had many different functions over the years.

“The Oasis used to be the Greyhound bus depot in addition to being its wacky little restaurant/snack bar self,” she said. “That made for some god-awful traffic jams on Morton Hill. Before the Oasis was a restaurant, it was a Laundromat and dry cleaner. It was run by the same family, the Farleys. It changed from a cleaning place to a restaurant in the ’60s when kids no longer wore clothes that needed dry cleaning.”

Another place that defined the “Athens experience” for Councilman was a place on Court Street called The Story Shop.

“The place was amazing,” she said. “There were stacks and stacks of books piled clear to the ceiling, and always some friendly foster cats from the Athens County Humane Society to help you make your selection.”

The cats reminded Councilman of home, which is the same feeling I always got when visiting Abraham’s dog at The Sundry.

“As a homesick freshman who missed my cats, I would go in there and look at books and hang out with a cat for hours,” she said.

The owners of The Story Shop retired and moved back to their home state of Indiana, where they still run The Story Shop albeit online. The space it occupied on Court Street became The Import House.

Academics aside, Athens has always been notorious as a party school. Perhaps the most noticeable changes over the years have come to the bar scene. The list of defunct bars in Athens is extensive, and many of them share the same Athens flavor as most of the current establishments.

For instance, Jackie O’s has had a beer on tap called O’Hooley’s Irish Stout. That’s a shout-out to the bar’s former name: O’Hooley’s Irish Pub, which operated similarly to Jackie O’s as a popular local brewpub. Next to O’Hooley’s was a place known as Skipper’s, which also was purchased by Jackie O’s.

A big name in the Athens music scene in the ’70s and early ’80s was a bar called Swanky’s, which hosted Bruce Springsteen the night before he played in Memorial Auditorium during his Born to Run tour. According to Jessica Cyders of the Athens County Historical Society, Swanky’s closed in the early ’80s after the owner, Ivan Faske, was arrested on drug charges. Swanky’s later caught fire, setting an unfortunate trend, and the space is now occupied by CVS Pharmacy.

Many Ohio University students would cherish the opportunity to live in a dorm building with its own bar. Bromley Hall used to have a bar, however that was before the University purchased the building, known as the College Inn at the time. The bar was called The Nickelodeon, but like The Oasis it fell victim to closure after OU purchased it.

One of the more recent changes to the bar scene is the transformation of The Junction. It was still open when I started college and was on the list of bars my friends and I could get into despite being under 21. You could get in there with seemingly any ID card, and I may have even used a jack of spades once. The Junction was known for what was called “Quad-Night,” where they doubled the amount of alcohol in their mixed drinks. That special was apparently started by former XFL president Basil DeVito way back in 1975. The Junction was sold, renovated and renamed The J Bar after it was sold in 2011 to Dave Cornwall.

Perhaps the most notorious of all drink specials in Athens was 25-cent beer night at Hanger-5. The quarter beer was started by owner Bruce Richmond and current Christian Moerlein Brewing Company owner Greg Hardman. On the first night of the special, Hardman claims Hanger-5 sold 60 kegs of beer.

Jerry Schetterer, a 1990 alumnus, said Hanger-5 was an actual hangar at some point, which made it rather large compared to most other bars. However, that didn’t mean that space wasn’t an issue.

“There were nights where you couldn’t move because there were so many people,” he said. “They stated having beer trucks outside because they couldn’t serve everyone at the bar inside.”

Although it was a very popular bar, Schetterer said Hanger-5 had more than just space problems.

“I remember there was some kind of spray insulation on the rafters, and it would occasionally fall into your beer.”

There’s a great website called athensohiobars.com that keeps a list of the defunct bars. Sadly, that list will only get longer. One day, many years from now, another Ohio University student will load up on coffee the same as I did and write a story similar to this one. The only difference will be that it will include my current favorite hangout spots.

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Garrett Austin Greene is a senior studying news and information in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. He hopes to cover news one day, perhaps even internationally. He was raised on a farm in Smithfield, Ohio and he’s addicted to caffeine, sports and the outdoors.

Meet Art Oerstrike, the entrepreneur behind Jackie O’s

The Union Street fire on Nov. 16 was the most difficult thing Art Oestrike has faced as the owner of Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery. The blaze stormed a block of West Union Street and rocked several businesses in Uptown Athens, including: Jackie O’s, Bobcat Rentals, Kismet, Jack Neal Floral, Uptown Dog, Smoke Zone Smoke Shop and the Union.

“I have never dealt with anything this difficult in my years as a business owner,” Oestrike told the Columbus Dispatch. The fire forced him to lay off 30 to 40 people at the time, and it took several weeks before he was able to resume full operations.

But Oestrike has a history of staying positive and turning problems into opportunities. I was able to sit down and talk with Oestrike before the blaze, and that discussion shed light on how he handles adversity and seeks out opportunities. His round head was covered by a bandana on top and a scraggly black mustache and beard on the bottom. There was a genuine hunger for success in his eyes. He can be seen wearing anything from a button-down shirt and jeans to a full-blown suit and tie.

While he might defy the stereotype of a successful entrepreneur, Oestrike is just that. He spends a solid 60 hours a week running logistics of the brewery. He also works on distribution, packaging and projections and is currently working to reconfigure the Uptown operations.

Oestrike is a man who prides himself on having been able to sell beer all across Ohio. With Jackie O’s creating roughly 4,430 gallons of beer per week, it’s easy to see how one can reach such an expansive demographic. Oestrike is certainly a man of many crafts, and many beers. Our discussion provides insight into what makes Jackie O’s the business it is and suggests it will rebound nicely from the fiery tragedy.

Andrew “Art” Oestrike , 38, grew up in the eastern suburbs of Cleveland. He attended Ohio University and completed a Bachelor of Arts in Russian and a Master of Arts in linguistics. After graduation, Oestrike left the country to teach English in South Korea. After three years, he returned to the community he was passionate about: Athens. It was here he fulfilled his dream: starting his own businesses, Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery and Bagel Street Deli, and teaching linguistics at Ohio University.

DR: What are some of the things that make Jackie O’s unique?
AO: There are a lot of breweries doing the local thing, but I think we’ve been in the lead. Being experimental. The artwork and getting outside of the box is very paramount to growth and success and imagery. We don’t need to make another can that looks like a fuckin’ PBR can. I love PBR, but there are enough of those cans on the shelves. Ours stand out. The quality of the product is another one. Striving for world-class products. It’s not about being the best beer in Athens or best restaurant in Athens. It’s about trying to be the best in the United States. Obviously we’re not there. I don’t think we have that much covered yet, but it’s about seeing beyond our micro-cause and taking it to that next step.

DR: How do you find people to bring into your organization who truly care about the business the way you do?
AO: That’s the hardest part of the whole thing. Treating people as people I think is a big one. Giving people the creative freedom to run their department — their area. No one likes being told what to do. People can be your biggest asset or your biggest problem. I’m losing touch. Every time I go to the brewpub I’m signing someone’s paycheck with whom I’ve never met. I’m not best used in the business meeting the new dishwasher. When they’re coming in on the bottom tier sort of thing, I’ll see them when I see them.

DR: How do you build a successful customer base?
AO: Time and pressure. The longer you’re operating, the more customer base you get. Having a very fluid town like Athens helps as well. Five thousand students graduate every spring. Four thousand of those students stay in Ohio. The students take their experiences with them and share via word of mouth. I think that’s a huge part of our success – the students.

DR: To what do you most attribute your success?
AO: Time and pressure, baby. Keeping an open perspective to hear other’s ideas and thoughts and knowing when and where to pick your battles. Managing your time through people’s ideas. Being able to see the big picture and where you want to steer this thing. It takes a lot of time to turn the ship at this point. I’m not a details person, but the details are important.

DR: Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
AO: Apple. In 15 years, they’ve gotten themselves into every third pocket. They’re in every third pair of pants walking around the U.S. and the globe. They’re in your pocket. Unbelievable. I like regional. Supporting our local situation and driving business to an area in need of economic help and development.

DR: If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
AO: I probably would have started this earlier — where we’re sitting. I would probably keep things pretty similar to what I’m doing. I like that it’s really just one big gamble right now. Right now everything seems safe and secure like we’re moving in the right direction, but I’ve still got all my financial marbles wrapped into this business and I always have. I keep my day job so I don’t have to take money out of here so I can keep this thing growing and moving forward because I have 100 people who are basing their livelihoods on this place, this business.

DR: Where do you see yourself and your business in 10 years? 20 years?
AO: I think time will tell. I think becoming synonymous with Ohio beer – Jackie O’s. That’s a goal. A big overarching 10-year plan. We’re getting there, but really it’s not about getting Mystic Mama to California. There are other great IPAs in California. The reason that we can compete with that is because when you go to Kroger in Athens, Ohio, and you want to go buy Mystic Mama, most likely it’s one of the freshest products there because it’s not from 3,000 miles away.

DR: Is there anything you’d like to add?
AO: You have to own your backyard. You have to be synonymous with your backyard. We’re in a very small community, but a very locally engaged, tight community. I don’t know that you have many others that are this much community oriented in Ohio and really anywhere for that matter. Supporting local initiatives left and right and all over the place is so important to what we’re up to. Even if most of the money is coming to us, it’s still coming around here and building that thing where people get to see this lovely little community and talk about the community, not just what we’re up to. I think that helps feed everybody. That puts money in a lot of different coffers. That’s what we’re all about. Without Athens supporting what we’ve been doing for nine years come December, we’re not us sitting here talking to you and you don’t give a shit what we’re up to. A lot of that is from what we’ve done, but how our community has supported us throughout those years.

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Daniel Rader is a photographer currently based in Athens, Ohio. He is a junior at Ohio University studying visual communication with a major sequence in photojournalism and a specialization in anthropology. Rader’s work has been featured in professional advertising and has been published in numerous newspapers, magazines, online publications and websites across the United States including Newsday, Dayton Daily NewsUSA Today College, Muse Machine, WOUB and others. His linked in page is www.linkedin.com/in/danielraderphoto.

 

 

In search of the Court Street Stench

Picture it: You’re strolling through Uptown Athens, taking in all the sights and sounds: the glowing marquee at the movie theater, the raucous laughter of buzzed college students, the feeling of weekend excitement in the air. You round the corner off Union Street and step onto Court Street when suddenly it hits you like a 10-ton bulldozer that’s been camped out at Baker all semester: A smell. A smell so foul it stings your nose. An assault so lightning quick that it’s gone as soon as you realize it’s there.

It is the Court Street Stench, and its source is unknown.

How can a town like Athens have such a stench clinging to its charming brick streets? A college town that students sometimes refer to (without a trace of irony) as “the promised land,” smells more like Chuck Palahniuk’s version of hell. How can this be?
I was determined to find out.

In order to determine the source of The Stench, I needed to first classify it. I needed to fully describe The Stench and then theorize about its source. In other words, I needed to really get a feel for the smell.

So I circled trash cans sniffing like a curious dog. I wandered down alleyways, documenting debris with photographs. I researched information on the grossest bars with the most pungent aromas.

It wasn’t enough. I smelled stenches (and lots of them), but wanted more definitive answers.

But maybe I’d been going about this the wrong way. Maybe instead of trying to track down a single stench, I should have been noting all of them.

Maybe the Court Street Stench isn’t just one smell after all. Perhaps it is a combination of smells: a putrid cocktail of bad food and bad behavior that coated our city streets.

To test this theory, I turned to the best noses for the jobs: the general public. If the public could come up with one definitive smell or source, then I’d have my answer. But if I received a mixed review, I’d know I’d been sniffing up the wrong tree.

And so, on Dad’s Weekend 2014, I took to the streets (and to the bars) to interview everybody and their father about their opinions of the vile Court Street Stench.

From hookah smoke and vomit to greasy pizza and coffee, the answers were as strange and varied as Court Street itself.

Ian Slifcak, a junior studying Spanish and Political Science, summed it up best when he said: “Court Street is a lot of smells.”

Athens city officials seem to agree with Slifcak’s statement. When asked for his diagnosis of the stench, Director of Code Enforcement John Paszke couldn’t put his finger on just one smell . . . or one cause.

“I imagine it is a combination of many things,” he replied. “The exhaust fans from the range hoods of the bars [and] restaurants, the large quantity of trash in the dumpsters, cigarette smoke from outdoor sidewalk smokers, vehicle exhaust, vomit, and depending on the weather conditions, odors from the storm [or] sanitary sewers.”

After turning to experts and laypersons, I was both entertained and repulsed by the variety of responses I had received. My sources had helped me take inventory of the smells of Court Street, and confirmed that there was, in fact, a group of Stenches, at large.

Peter Shoup, a junior studying engineering, commented that Court Street is “kind of like a progressive map … you can tell where you are based on what it smells like.”

Inspired by Shoup’s comparison, I decided to map my data, in the interest of public safety. Even the experts weren’t able to make a positive identification of the perpetrators. It was up to me to inform the public about the predators lurking around every corner uptown.

So, again, picture it: You’re strolling through Uptown Athens, taking in all the sights and sounds. You pass Jackie O’s and smell beer and a yeasty beer-making smell.

You pass the Union which used to smell like smoke due to the abundance of smokers who lined the sidewalk but now smells like smoke from the Union Street Fire.

You pass GoodFella’s and smell greasy pizza, or “cheese and floor cleaner,” as one contributor put it.

You round the corner off Union and step onto Court and smell coffee from Whit’s right before stepping into our first danger zone. The trash can on the corner smells like vomit at all hours of the day and night, and citizens are advised to avoid this area, at all costs.

You cross the street to get away and are accosted by another Stench, in the alley by Brenen’s: courtesy of a perpetually wet, dripping dumpster.

You hurry along, keeping your nose forward, trying not to attract any more unwanted Stenches when you pass the alley by Mike’s Dog Shack, which is a known Stench hideout. You hurry on, sniffing over your shoulder every few paces to make sure you aren’t being followed.

You smell cheap burritos and pungent sauce at Big Mamma’s. You smell the mustiness of Red Brick’s damp basement dance floor. You smell incense at Artifacts, gas and exhaust at BP, beer and smoke surrounding every bar, when suddenly it hits you.

You’re surrounded.

The Stenches are everywhere. You can’t hide from them. You can’t escape them. They have representatives everywhere. No one is safe.

Most of the time they won’t give you much trouble. They’re mostly just mildly irritating. They like to get in your face a little, but they don’t usually stay too long, eager to find a new victim.

But sometimes, they’re more forceful. Sometimes they gang up on you and assault you out of nowhere.

Although The Stenches can be terribly unpredicatable, many sources affectionately attribute them to the dynamic nature of Court Street.

“I kind of enjoy the different phases of smells,” commented Slifcak. “In a way, it contributes to that special feeling of Athens [because] Court Street is where it all happens. It will eat you up and spit you right back out.

“After four years, you might miss some of those strange smells.”

Investigation contributors: Ian Slifcak, John Paszke, Peter Shoup, Elisabeth Rosenfeld, Emily Mueting, Doug Mueting, Scott Scheiderer, Jessica Wuensch

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Juliana Scheiderer is a junior at Ohio University majoring in Journalism and Spanish with a certificate in Law, Justice, and Culture. She loves writing about music, art, travel, and entertainment.

Court Street guide for newbies

As a freshman I was intimidated the first time I came to campus. Crazy thoughts ran through my mind.

What if I look like a freshman?

Am I going to get picked on?

How the heck am I going to find friends?

The one thing I was most conflicted about was where to go and what to eat. Where do all the hot guys go to eat? Of course that was a stupid thought because it’s not like they congregate in one place. Or do they?

Now, as an upperclassman, I know a few answers to those questions, but I’ll leave it to the  newbies to figure out the answers. The one thing I will provide is a list of the top five (or eight) most popular spots to eat and drink on the most popular street in Athens — Court Street.

SidebarIn a tie for the No. 2 spot we have Jackie O’s and Bagel Street DeliSurveying upperclassmen about where to go and what to eat is no easy feat. With a small sample of only 46 people, the answers were relatively varied. But as most of America knows, Chipotle is always the place to go, and according to OU students, we Bobcats follow the American way.

I was hoping for some unique restaurant you can find only in Athens as the No. 1 spot, but our taste buds are accustomed to those “bomb-ass carnitas,” as one student put it. I didn’t even need to ask what the newbies should get there because let’s face it, it’s Chipotle, even I know what to get there (and I don’t even like it). Quite frankly, it gives me heartburn that I would like to avoid.

My best friend and roommates are so “addicted,” it’s as if they can’t live without it. After the Union Street fire in November, multiple posts on Yik Yak, an anonymous gossip app, spread the rumor that  Court Street Chipotle would be closed for the rest of the semester. Although untrue, the posts caused some students to start planning trips to Lancaster or Columbus just to get their carnitas. It seemed people were more worried about their burrito fix than the fire itself. So I guess it makes sense Chipotle stole the No. 1 spot.

While I have never been to either location, I have heard rave reviews about both places. Unfortunately, Jackie O’s Public House was forced to close for several weeks after the fire and just recently reopened and is serving food again.

Bagel Street Deli has a long list of almost every bagel creation you can think of. Even though it looks like a hole in the wall, there is so much potential behind those doors. It is definitely on my college bucket list (which you should consider making). Some of the most popular bagels are the Tom’s Turkey, the pizza bagel, and Da Carmella. They have so many combinations on the menu it is almost impossible to not find something you like. Don’t be scared when you walk in. On Parent’s Weekend last year, my family and I decided to try it out. We walked in, saw it was extremely crowded and my anxiety about not knowing what to order got the best of me and we ran out of there. Don’t do that! Just try it and you may become as addicted to it as my friends are to Chipotle.

The No. 3 spot belongs to The Pub. Although it is farther down Court Street, don’t be afraid to venture to the “bar side,” as I call it. There are so many bars on the far end of Court Street that it is hard to figure out which one to try. Take a look at some of the bar pieces on Court Street Stories.com to learn about some of the watering holes around town.

The Pub sticks out like a sore thumb on Court Street, with its wood slats painted an odd shade of green, and the sign looking a little weathered and outdated. According to the survey, one of the best things to get is a burger. It doesn’t matter what kind, it is your burger after all, so get what you want, but they are supposedly delicious. At night is when the fun comes out, with a rainbow usually appearing in multiple shot glasses. If you don’t know what rainbow shots are, either just go and try them or check out Tipsy Bartender on YouTube. The intro is a very pretty collection of rainbow shots. Another item is the Aquarium Beer, which is basically beer in a fishbowl that you can suck down with friends or just get drunk solo. Again, if you are not of age, add it to the bucket list but at least try a burger. I mean, who doesn’t love a good burger?

The No. 4 spot must have been a tough decision because The Pigskin, Casa Nueva and Big Mamma’s Burritos all tied.

The Pigskin is one of the “prettier” bars on Court Street, meaning it doesn’t necessarily look like a typical Athens bar but more of a “restaurant undercover,” so to say. With an all-glass front, it is also one of the most recognizable. One of the most popular items is the Thin Mint shot. It supposedly tastes exactly like the Girl Scout cookie. I don’t know about you, but I love Girl Scout cookies and Thin Mints are one of my favorites, so this shot is definitely on my list.

Casa Nueva is popular among OU students. They have some good food, and I can say that because I have actually been there. Rare, I know. The margaritas are a big hit as well as the nachos. “Casa” features karaoke nights and live bands. The atmosphere is unique and you don’t have to be 21 years old to enjoy what they have to offer.  Big Mamma’s Burritos is also relatively well-known, mostly because a lot of people consider it “drunk food.” They are open late and burritos are pretty easy to carry, so it makes sense. Some crowd faves include the Buffalo Mamma and the Chipotle Ranch Mamma.

Finally, the No. 5 spot is Stephen’s On Court. This restaurant/bar is a little more upscale than others on Court Street, but the pasta is really good from the students’ point of view. The popular shot is a Chocolate Covered Pretzel Shot, which sounds amazing to me. Although they are situated on the opposite end of Court Street from campus, it is still worth a try to get there during your time at OU.

The main reason people chose these places was because of the price. Everyone knows that college kids have little to no money. My only question is how are they buying this food? We complain about how broke we are, but we are still buying $7 burritos and shots every weekend. But here’s the catch — the food is so much better than Ramen noodles in the microwave on a Monday night. A lot of it is locally grown, which supports the community and makes you feel like you contributed something. The atmosphere of these places is also a big draw. Some are a little more relaxed than others, you just have to figure out what you are in the mood for.

Now that you know the top places to eat around campus, and what to get there, you can start working on the answer to the most important question: Where do you go to find the attractive people on campus? If this article hasn’t taught you anything, at least now you know that they are probably as obsessed with Chipotle as the next Bobcat.

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Taylor Feeney is a junior Visual Communications major at Ohio University. Her dream job is to be a freelance web designer or to own a small startup situated somewhere warm and sunny. She loves to read and drinks a lot of coffee so she can stay up late on a Netflix binge while making ugly websites pretty.