Best of best hometowns

Hometown Treasures

We celebrate our 2016–2017 Best Hometown honorees by sharing some of the interesting and fun discoveries we made during our visits.


College-Town Boutique
From the decor adorning the wide front windows to the dainty jewelry displays, there’s no detail too small at Lane & Kate. This Uptown boutique carries high-quality clothing, accessories, stationery, bath and beauty products and other gifts made by independent and local artisans. Cards at each carefully styled display offer information about the featured artists, such as Katie Gerard of Middletown, whose rose-gold stacking rings are favorites, and Oxford resident Karen Lindner, whose motto is “wear history.” “She recreates pieces based off vintage pieces she’s found,” says Rachel Pfeiffer, who owns the store with her sister, Jessica Greene. “So she does research on the history and gives them a little bit of new life.” 29 E. High St., Oxford 45056, 513/523-1004,
Coffee-Shop Happy Hour: Overstuffed armchairs await the students and locals who stop by Kofenya Coffee for their daily latte, espresso or baked-in-house treats. But between 2 and 11 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, the shop embraces its college-town location by offering a short menu of alcoholic beverages. “The point isn’t to be another bar — it’s just another selection,” says general manager Kathryn Marsman. The drink list includes a rotating lineup of five craft beers, one wine selection and a few coffee cocktails, such as the Frangelico Frap (an icy blend of coffee and Frangelico liquor) and the Hot Nuts shot, a warm, spicy and delicious treat. “There’s been this culture — with craft coffee comes craft beer drinkers,” explains Marsman. “The palettes kind of overlap; the notes kind of overlap.” 38 W. High St., Oxford 45056, 513/523-2195,

Food Co-Op 
You’ll find more than 100 bulk-food items and salmon that was in Alaskan waters two days ago, but what you won’t find at MOON Co-op is high-fructose corn syrup or MSGs. “I don’t know any other store you can walk into and pretty much be guaranteed those ingredients won’t be found in those products,” says co-op board president Bernadette Unger. The 4,000-square-foot Miami Oxford Organic Network Natural Food Cooperative is a full-service grocery store focused on helping shoppers understand where their food comes from. A green label designates products that are certified organic, an orange tag identifies gluten-free offerings and a blue tag indicates a product is made in Ohio or hails from one of the 45 suppliers within a 50-mile radius of Oxford. 512 S. Locust St., Oxford 45056, 513/280-5020,

Creative Clocks: 
If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind home decor piece that combines barn chic with vintage flair, check out the wooden wall clocks at Zassy’s Treasures. Longtime Grove City resident and shop owner Cassy Mullins buys old wooden electrical spools in bulk and then deconstructs them, transforming their round bases into clock faces. “Honestly, I can’t make enough of these,” says Mullins. “A lot of people get to the store right at the opening to get one of these.” The pieces can be functional or merely decorative (meaning created with or without hands), and Mullins is willing to work with bases brought in by customers or to customize any purchase. 3952 Broadway, Grove City 43123,

Coffee Shot
Selling fair trade, free trade and kosher beans, Impero Coffee Roasters caters to not only the conscientious coffee sipper, but also the daring caffeine adventurer. Instead of cozying up to a full cup, take a seat at the bar and let the baristas whip up the John Wayne shot: layered espresso, cold creamer and white-chocolate-flavored syrup served in a shot glass. “The neat thing is you’ve got different textures, different temperatures and different flavors,” explains shop owner Tom Schroeder. “When you drink it, it’s the opposite of what your eyes just saw.” 4170 McDowell Road, Grove City 43123, 614/539-6808,

Side Dish
Green beans don’t get a lot of hype aside from the Thanksgiving casserole, but they stand out on the menu at China Bell. When restaurant owner and longtime Grove City restaurateur Gary Shyu noticed green beans appearing on more and more menus, he decided to serve up his own authentic Chinese version. “We saute them with soy sauce, garlic and pickled cabbage,” he says. “[It’s] really good flavor, and people like it.” The beans can be tossed with meat as a main dish, but don’t be afraid to order them as a side. 1947 Stringtown Rd., Grove City 43123, 614/871-2420,


Classic Hardware Store 
Open since 1857, Chagrin Hardware & Supply is the oldest-operating business in Chagrin Falls. According to owner Steve Shutts, the distinction also makes it a tourist attraction of sorts. Keep an eye out for the original wood shelving, the 1800s-era bullet crates still used for storage, and other antiques scattered throughout the store that provide a time-capsule-like look into the village’s history. Shutts has even saved some of the forged notes kids brought into the store during the 1960s in the hopes of buying BBs. “The cool part is those kids who were here buying BBs, well they’re bringing in their kids now,” says Shutts. 82 N. Main St., Chagrin Falls 44022, 440/247-7514 
Glass Art Studio: This former car dealership is now a modern masterwork that houses both the Glass Asylum art studio and M Italian restaurant. Handmade glass chandeliers and stainless steel and concrete accents adorn both spaces, and windows allow restaurant patrons to look in as the artists work. “It’s like dinner and a show,” says Glass Asylum operations manager Kate Page. For those looking to try glass blowing, the studio offers seasonal workshops and can even accommodate large parties. For those who just want to appreciate the craftsmanship, the studio’s eight staff artists have pieces on display and for sale in the gallery. 22 W. Orange St., Suite 101, Chagrin Falls 44022, 440/394-8483,

Outdoor Outfitter 
You can find prime steelhead-trout fishing in some of northeast Ohio’s rivers, and whether you’ve spent years in waders or are a first-time angler, Chagrin River Outfitters can get you ready to cast your line. This full-service shop sells gear and hosts guided fishing trips throughout northeast Ohio and eastern Pennsylvania, as well as classes and seminars. “It’s nice being part of the community in Chagrin Falls, as well as the local fly-fishing community,” says owner Dan Pribanic, who adds that the best time for trout fishing in Ohio is October through December and March through June. 100 N. Main St., Chagrin Falls 44022, 440/247-7110,

Small-Town BBQ: Pulled pork rubbed with a house blend of seasonings and the 1-pound Big Pete sandwich of beef brisket and pulled pork topped with a signature sauce and creamy coleslaw are just two of the platters that keep Deet’s BBQ’s sales strong all year. “The secret to good meat is to smoke it slowly and let God do the rest,” says co-owner Bob Deeter, who opened his restaurant with his wife, Lisa, and son, Trevor, in 2010 to fill what he saw as a culinary void in northwest Ohio. “Whether you’re coming from the corporate office in a three-piece suit or from the gym in sweats, Deet’s is come-as-you-are, feel-good barbecue,” says Trevor. 1385 Conant St., Maumee 43537, 419/893-2335, 

Cigar Shop 
Step inside The Cigar Affair and enter a world where smoking is a leisurely pursuit to be celebrated. John Swemba, a former school psychologist for the Ohio Department of Education, opened his shop 20 years ago to share the bliss he feels when puffing on a premium cigar. More than 1,000 varieties — with price tags ranging from $2 to $85 apiece — are nestled inside a meat-locker-sized humidor in the den-like emporium, which features leather club chairs and low lighting. “Smoking a premium imported cigar is not the same thing as smoking a cigarette,” Swemba says. “Cigars are meant to be enjoyed after dinner or to commemorate a graduation or a job promotion or a wedding or a new baby. They are a privilege.” 
323 Conant St., Maumee 43537, 419/891-0109, 

Book Festival 
When Claire Rubini died from a heart condition in 2000, her parents, Brad and Julie Rubini, made a commitment to honor their 10-year-old daughter’s life by sharing her passion for reading. What began as a one-day book festival has blossomed into a year-round outreach program involving meet-and-greets with a dozen national picture-book and young-adult authors and illustrators in 43 northwest Ohio schools. On May 20, the 16th annual Claire’s Day at the Maumee branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library will feature book signings, arts and crafts and music. “Claire loved books and storytelling,” says Julie Rubini. “Hopefully, we’ve fostered that love by creating a life event for children that they will remember forever.” 501 River Rd., Maumee 43537, 419/242-7323,