Green grocer, eatery Park + Vine is downsizing

Posted at 8:00 AM, Jan 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-18 09:47:24-05

CINCINNATI -- Park + Vine, a "green general store" that is also one of the oldest farm-to-table establishments in the area, announced Jan. 12 that it is downsizing in floor space – and upsizing in terms of services and products.

Owner Danny Korman said the socially and environmentally conscious food and dry-goods purveyor has drawn plans to reduce its Over-the-Rhine floor space from about 2500 square feet to 1,300, keeping the same address.

It’s part of the continuous growth of OTR as a shopping and dining district.

For P + V’s landlord, Urban Sites, the reconfiguration will create an additional storefront while keeping a longtime tenant. Founded in 2007, P + V has been in its present Main Street location since 2010. Its first location was on Vine.

On the upside of the floor-plan equation for P + V: longer food-service hours and more green vegetables. And in place of what Korman described as bulky fixtures, or islands, that dot the space now like an archipelago, the shop will have floor-to-ceiling shelving, making use of vertical space and tightening the floor area. European-style rolling ladders will provide access. Currently, there is a partition dividing the store. That will go away.

“Our rent will change (downward) but most importantly it will give us this more contiguous space to work with so when people walk in the door they’ll see the whole store in one fell swoop. We’re focusing on the fundamentals," said Korman, a Cincinnati native, who holds a degree in urban planning from the University of Cincinnati. "We’re looking into a soft-serve ice cream machine – it would be all nondairy – and also a produce cooler. We routinely get requests for produce.”

Korman said the shop's shape-shifting represents organic growth, not reinvention. Significantly, the rearrangement of shelves and islands will not mean the departure of P + V’s pay-it-forward program in which customers can opt to contribute anything over $1 toward another patron’s lunch bill. Launched in September 2015, the program includes a sliding-scale payment plan for patrons who are low on funds.

“The sliding scale, pay-it-forward, all of those things will continue. Especially the pay-it-forward has become an integral part of the store. Since we launched that last September (we’ve) had more than 130 people contribute,” Korman explained by phone as he worked the cash register; David Bowie, circa the mid-'70s, could be heard playing in the background.

For produce, Korman said he has been consulting with Sharon Rudd of Ohio Valley Food Connection, an area food hub that delivers sustainably grown vegetables and other local food products.

Currently, lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Following construction, food service will expand its hours to match those of the shop, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Korman recently signed a five-year lease for the smaller space.

The redesigned store is tentatively scheduled to open May 27, the ninth anniversary of the store’s debut. Korman said the store will remain open during construction with the possible exception of some brief interruptions at the lunch counter. New Republic Architecture is overseeing design.

“The whole change,” said Korman, speaking of the redesign and floor-space contraction, “it just felt like it was time to do that. We are a well-supported store. We get a lot of support from outside the city, too. And changes in the neighborhood and specifically on our block, there are some new places coming, which is exciting.”

Park + Vine will hold surplus equipment salesbeginning Feb. 6.