Friday, January 31, 2014

Lucky Records in Wooster

Lucky Records
by Brit Charek

I've been spending a lot more time in Wooster, Ohio than I ever expected I would-- it's my husband's hometown. Just 45 minutes from Akron (and even closer for those who live on the west end of the Empire), the city's charming historic downtown is worth a day trip, especially if you judge a city by its record store, which of course I do.

The store and their award winning window display from Christmas!

Ironically (and for the amusement of the store's owner), Lucky Records opened on Friday the 13th in September of 2013. They buy and sell new and used vinyl records as well as service turntables and other record equipment. 

"I felt it was something the community was lacking," says owner Dave Rodgers, a Wooster resident who was getting tired of driving to Akron, Canton, Cleveland, or Columbus to feed his vinyl addiction. "There had to be some vinyl enthusiasts around here, and so far my hunch was correct. The response has been nothing but positive."

Photo courtesy of Lucky Records' Facebook page

I left Lucky Records with a used Costello, a re-issued Coltraine and some great conversation. Located in the middle of downtown, the store is a social hub as well as a destination for shoppers, as all record stores should be.

Lucky Records is located at 126 S Market Street in Wooster, OH. They are open 11am-7pm Tuesday through Saturday.

Visit Lucky Records' Website
"Like" Lucky Records on Facebook

Monday, January 27, 2014

Unwined on Main in Munroe Falls

Unwined on Main is an extension of Cupcake Binge--and right next door!

Unwined on Main in Munroe Falls
by Joanna Wilson

The good folks at Cupcake Binge--click HERE to see my post about Cupcake Binge from 2012--have recently expanded.  In addition to their incredible cupcakes and coffee, they have extended the bar and restaurant offerings to include more wine and drinks, and a casual dining experience.

The delicious grape pizza.  Photo courtesy of Unwined on Main. 

Just last month Unwined on Main opened.  There is seating at the bar as well a relaxed lounge area--just the right atmosphere to come and hang out.  They now serve gourmet pizzas and small plates, as well as an expanded wine menu and craft beers.  On my visit, I ordered the grape pizza (pictured above) with red seedless grapes, walnuts, balsamic vinegar, and cheese.  My guest ordered the Thai pizza (without the chicken).  It was spicy and amazing!  We also got a wild berry meade and a Kentucky Bourbon ale.  What a great place to bring your friends and relax. 

Thai pizza--with peppers, spicy peanut sauce, and chicken.  Photo courtesy of Unwined on Main.

This is one of the small plates offerings--four of these to each plate.  This is Basil Pesto Lemon Ricotta & Honey.  What a nice treat with a glass of wine.  Photo courtesy of Unwined on Main.

I can't wait to go back and try a few more of their offerings.  They also have a pulled pork gourmet pizza and a breakfast pizza I'm dying to try.  Again, they just opened--it's only been a month since they began serving these tasty foods.  I'm hoping that they'll have their complete menu on-line soon and you will be able to see all that is available.

Located in downtown Munroe Falls--next to the railroad tracks--see the passing train in the background?  These blizzard photos are gonna look great in August!?

Since they are an expansion of Cupcake Binge and the facility is connected, the bakery closes when the wine bar opens at 4pm.  If they still have cupcakes, you can order them through the bar or for take-out only.  For more details, check out their website.  I'm looking forward to their Guinness cupcakes with the Bailey's Irish Cream frosting served for St. Patrick's Day.  I can hardly wait!

Unwined on Main is now open Tuesday through Thursday, 4pm-10pm, Friday and Saturday, 4pm-11pm.
(They are closed Sundays and Mondays for private and corporate events).

Unwined on Main is located at 20 N. Main Street, in Munroe Falls, OH 44262
on facebook: Cupcake Binge, and Unwined on Main.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Dinner with Pop Up Akron

Akron Empire is so excited to welcome back guest blogger Erica Scheutzow who wrote about The White Rabbit last year. When she is not sharing her epic dining experiences, she also runs a small business called As I Breathe I Hope, where she handmakes quirky original plush characters made from new and recycled fabrics. Check out AIBIH on Etsy and on Facebook or go check her out in person at Zephyr Mart in Kent Saturday February 8th!

Dinner Has Popped Up!
by Erica Scheutzow
Executive Chef Matthew Waddell of Rosemont Country Club, Chef/Consultant Jeffrey Winer.
Last week, my husband and I had the pleasure of good company at the first “Pop-Up Akron” dinner at the Eye Opener on West Market Street. Owners Liz and Steve Arn welcomed Chefs Jeffrey Winer, Matthew Waddell and Britt-Marie Culey with open arms for this special endeavor. With the popularity of pop up dinners out west, Chef Winer wanted to embark on this concept in Akron and highlight the talents of our local chefs and artisan food makers by hosting a different dinner each month. Two such artisans featured include Yellow House Cheese and Crooked River Coffee Company which were both incorporated into our food fare this evening.
Amuse-Bouche: peppadew peppers stuffed with wild rice, sour cherry and honey goat cheese

Steak Tartare by Chef Winer: traditional French preparation served with a quail egg and parmesan toast points

With an intimate seating of 31 guests we sipped our wine and adventurously feasted on a 6 course meal which included Amuse-Bouche, Steak Tartare, Lobster Bisque, Belgian Salad, Grilled Lamb Chop and Chocolate Decadence. Not only did these dishes look and smell delightful but we experienced a range of flavors and textures, each dish unique and complimenting the next. As we enjoy our dishes, both Chefs Winer and Waddell throughout the evening personally visited each table to talk with the patrons, asking and answering any questions. They really went above and beyond reaching out to us; reaffirming how passionate they are about what they do and how much they care about their guests. As I looked at every table, each person had a smile on their face followed by laughter, a sign that what was happening tonight was the starting note of what is to come. Without a doubt, this is one of the best experiences I’ve had in regards to local fair thanks to Chefs Winer, Waddell and Culey.

Lobster Bisque by Chef Waddell: velvety bisque with delicately poached lobster, a hint of sherry and topped with a crab crouton

Belgian Salad by Chef Winer: Belgian endive, shaved fennel, pear, yellow house blue cheese, candied pecans with a pear honey vinaigrette

Grilled Lamb Chop by Chef Waddell: sea salt, fresh herbs and a mustard-tellicherry sauce

The next Pop-Up Akron dinner will be held on February 22nd at The Eye Opener. For more information about Pop-Up Akron, please visit their Facebook page and “like” them to stay up to date on future dinner dates, menu, locations and featured chefs.

Don't forget dessert! Chocolate Decadence by Chef Culey: rich chocolate cake, almond paste, chocolate ganache with truffle honey ice cream

Pop-Up Akron:
Chef/Consultant Jeffrey Winer:

Executive Chef Matthew Waddell:
Rosemont Country Club of Fairlawn

Executive Pastry Chef Britt-Marie Culey:
Coquette Patisserie

A special thanks to:

Liz & Steve Arn of The Eye Opener

Kevin & Kristyn Henslee of Yellow House Cheese

Howard Sobel of Crooked River Coffee

Friday, January 17, 2014

2013's Most Popular Guest Posts, Part 2

Joanna and I celebrating Akron Empire's first anniversary at Thirsty Dog Brewing Co.

2013's Most Popular Guest Posts, Part 2
by Brit Charek

2013 was a busy year for Akron Empire. I'm so honored and grateful to have had so many people approach me about contributing to the blog. Some of our guest bloggers have been blogging for years, and some were a little nervous about their writing ability. Some of them I've known for years, and some of them I only see in cyberspace. That aside, they all have one thing in common: they know about something really cool in the Empire that they want to share, and I'm so glad that they did!

Earlier in the week, Joanna shared her top 5 most popular guest posts-- click HERE to see that. Here were my most popular guest posts of the year:

5. 5 Reasons to Shop Crafty Mart by Dina of Dina's Days.
This isn't the first time Dina has contributed to the blog. In 2012, she wrote about the Best Thrift Shop in Akron. You might be surprised about the one she picked!

4. The White Rabbit in Ravenna by Erica Scheutzow
Unfortunately, the shop Erica wrote about has been closed, but we're looking forward to seeing more posts from one of our newest guest bloggers. You might have seen Erica at Crafty Mart, where she sells quirky plush items made from new and recycled fabrics under the name As I Breathe I Hope.

3. 8251 Miles
Photographer Aimee Lambes shared her experience driving cross country while taking portraits along the way. Aimee, who has a studio downtown Akron, has been a long time supporter of Akron Empire, and we're so excited to see what she'll be up to in the new year!

2. Good Life Gives Back
Mathias Noble King shared his experience at Good Life Tattoo & Piercing's charity event. The shop raised over three grand to buy toys for the waiting rooms at Akron Children's! Make sure to keep up with Akron Empire to find out about awesome events like this one.

1. The most popular guest post I organized from 2013 was J Hudson's review of Baxter's Bar, who have the best tacos in Akron! J is a long-time contributor to Akron Empire and also wrote about Fast Molasses, Record Store Day: The Holiday for Music Lovers and Justin Crowe's "Meme the World" Project this year.

Guest blogger J after officiating the wedding of myself and Mathias (also a guest blogger!)
Photo by Brian Adams Photography

Thanks so much to Dina, Erica, Aimee, Mathias and J and everyone else who has guest blogged for us! We're looking forward to hearing about more of your adventures in the new year!

Monday, January 13, 2014

2013's Most Popular Guest Posts

Joanna and Brit last August at Summit Mall for Akron Life Magazine's Best of City Showcase.

2013's Most Popular Guest Posts
by Joanna Wilson

Though Brit and I are the co-founders of Akron Empire, we welcome members of the community to write and share their favorite places, events, restaurants, and organizations in the Empire.  As we continue our reflection on posts from 2013, I wanted to share the most popular guest posts from last year.  (Brit worked with another group of guest bloggers--and she will include her own top 5 list of 2013 later this week).  How many of these essays do you remember reading the first time around? 

5.  Flip Side Burgers in Hudson by Stacey Lim.  Stacey shared with us her passion for a good burger.  In 2012, Stacey wrote about the burgers at The Rail--remember that popular post as well?

4.  Clever Little Devils Art Exhibit by Rob Lehr.  Though this particular art show is long gone, don't forget to keep an eye open for new exhibits coming to the Box Gallery located at Summit Art Space.

3.  Last August, Roza Haidet shared with us about the local arts organization Artists of Rubber City whose work is often exhibited at the Box Gallery.   I'm so proud that the posts about art and artists here on Akron Empire end up so popular!

2.  Dominic Caruso's restaurant review of Chin's Place, located in West Hill, ended up just a few views behind the most popular guest post of 2013.  Last February, Dominic wrote a record review for a split 7" with the bands Ultrasphinx and Bad Trouble which also ended up in the top of the most popular guest posts--check it out.

1.  The most popular guest posts from 2013 turned out to be two essays on a set of historical sites Perkins Stone Mansion (from last June) and John Brown House (from January) both written by Juniper Sage.  Have you taken the tour of either of these sites managed by the Summit County Historical Society

Many, many thanks to Juniper, Dominic, Roza, Rob, Stacey, and everyone else who guest blogs for Akron Empire

If you're interested in checking out what guest bloggers are sharing with Akron Empire, you can click on the Guest Bloggers button along the ride-hand side of this blog for a complete list with links to each of those posts.  Interested in sharing a favorite band, place to shop, event, organization, restaurant with us?  Email us at AkronEmpire [at] gmail dot com to talk to us about what you have in mind.  We look forward to hearing from you.  Brit and I are looking forward to an exciting new year, exploring the Empire and sharing our journey with you.  Thanks for reading.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Year in Review, Part 2

2013: The Year in Review
by Brit Charek

As I look back at 2013, I'm feeling exceptionally thankful. Akron Empire celebrated its first anniversary and was awarded Best Blog by Akronlife Magazine! (And to think, a year ago I wasn't even sure I'd still be blogging now...) I've reached some major milestones in my personal life too: I married my best friend and partner and (with his help and patience) managed to organize the busiest Crafty Mart to date.

As we move forward into 2014, Joanna and I have decided to continue our tradition of re-visiting our most popular posts from the past year. (To check out Joanna's list again, click HERE.)

These are my top five most-clicked blog posts of 2013. Click on the title to see the original post:

5. Our Band Could Be Your Life: The Singular
This Akron-based indie rock band will be playing the Kent Stage on February 21 with Shivering Timbers and White Pines. Click HERE to RSVP on Facebook.

4. Review: A Behanding in Spokane at None Too Fragile Theater
I loved this dark comedy well suited for an intimate theater space. You can learn more about None Too Fragile by reading my post about their opening in September 2012.

3. Modern Vintage in Hartville
This boutique of handcrafted and upcycled goods is one of my favorite new finds from 2013! I will definitely be back.

2. Countryside Conservancy's Monthly Local Food Swaps
Swapping with farmers and foodies at Uncorked Wine Bar was a blast! If you get a chance to attend one, make sure to check out our list of tips for new swappers!

1. Zombie Walk at Annabel's
Old School Sinema organized a zombie invasion of Highland Square as a food drive. Don't miss out on the next one!

Thanks again to all our readers, supporters and guest bloggers. I'm looking forward to new discoveries and revisiting all my old favorites in the new year!

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Year in Review (2013)

The Year in Review--2013 Edition
by Joanna Wilson

My Akron Empire co-founder, Brit, and I are looking forward to another busy year on the website.  We are beginning to schedule our upcoming essays, sharing our favorite bands, restaurants, places to shop, and events in the Empire.  Before we move forward, Brit and I would like to reflect on what worked (and what didn't work) during the previous year.   Last year, we created lists of our most popular posts--for 2012--and it was very entertaining.  So I'd like to once again, create a list for my top 5 most popular posts from 2013.  Click on the titles for the link to return to each of these posts.  How many of these do you remember reading?  Thanks for joining me on this journey and giving me an excuse to explore the Empire's many treasures.

5.  Blue Eyed Dog Gallery in Peninsula
This new space features local art, vintage, and upcycled items to satisfy a variety of tastes.  They've gotten even more fun stuff in the store since I first wrote this essay last September.

4.  Danny Lyon Photography Exhibit at the Akron Art Museum
Though this photography exhibit is long gone (I wrote about the Danny Lyon show in January 2013), I'm very pleased that readers are just as curious as I am about what's going on at the Akron Art Museum.   Wasn't that a great show?

3.  Skullz Salon in Kent
Looking to get your wig busted?  Check out the styling opportunities in downtown Kent's coolest salon.  Tell 'em Joanna sent you.

2.  Givits Thrift and Recycle in Hudson
One of my most favorite places in the Empire--you never know what you're gonna find at Givits.  It's also one of the friendliest places around.  Follow them on facebook and you'll be treated to photos of all the wonderful stuff that's coming (and going) through their place.

1.  Rust & Found in Canal Fulton
Isn't it thrilling to discover a new place and watch a business grow?  This post from last May caught Rust & Found at the beginning of their tremendous success of 2013. 

A triumphant Joanna and Brit at last summer's Color Me Rad 5k at Derby Downs on Akron's east side.
What was your favorite Akron Empire post from 2013?  Let us know in the comments below.  Later in the week, Brit will create a list of her most popular blog posts from 2013 as well.  And, next week, we'll post lists of our most popular posts written by guest bloggers.   If you'd like to share information with us for the website, send a press release, or be a guest blogger, please contact us via email: AkronEmpire [at] gmail dot com.  We'd love to hear from you.