Taste of OTR More than Just Eats…

taste-of-otr-poster-a2Having been in senior management at Tender Mercies for 7 years, I have probably been involved in over 25 special events — some good, some really awesome, a few… meh.
When the idea for a Taste of Over the Rhine (presented by Tender Mercies) was pitched, everyone around loved the idea, but no one realized just how much work would be involved. Tender Mercies has been a part of this community for 28 years, and what better way to celebrate and give back than through a communal meal to end all meals — a celebration of what makes OTR unique and alive.

Seven years ago when I first started at Tender Mercies, I was asked in my interview if I had any qualms about working in OTR. As a social worker who had done home visits in some of Cincinnati’s most dangerous housing projects and roughest neighborhoods, I was not worried about working in OTR for one of the region’s most respected social service agencies.

My predecessor in the CEO role, Marcia Spaeth, had worked with the Cincinnati Police Department to clean up 12th and Republic, which at that time was one of the most highly patrolled corners in the City. In my first two years, bullets were fired through our front window. While we were having a “Critical Incident Stress Debriefing” session with staff to process that first drive-by, another drive-by happened!

Needless to say, much has changed in OTR over the past several years. Shops and restaurants line Vine Street and the outskirts of Washington Park. Tender Mercies has renovated two of its facilities to the tune of $10 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits. Washington Park has become the City’s front lawn and the crown jewel of OTR. The work of 3CDC has brought this neighborhood back to life and given us an entertainment district that was sorely lacking in a City our size.

Taste of OTR is a celebration of all that makes OTR the cultural center of Cincinnati. But it will also maintain that “edge” that makes OTR so special. All of the restaurants are OTR based or have roots in OTR – you won’t be able to order your favorite Cincinnati style chili or chain restaurant burger or pizza — sorry! All of the bands do original material (no covers, unless you count classical violins playing Vivaldi). There is a diversity to the entertainment lineup that smacks of OTR — something for everyone. Nearly 150 volunteers have signed up to make this event run smoothly — reminding me of OTR’s grassroots flavor.

I hope you and your friends/family find time to come to the Taste on Saturday, August 10 from 11AM – 11PM.

Details can be found at www.tasteofotr.com

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Shared by: Russell Winters, Social Worker & Executive Director of Tender Mercies

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