Rosie’s ready to serve comfort food to BG’s late night crowd

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Rosie’s Rolling Chef’s journey to a spot in Bowling Green streets hasn’t been easy. The food truck version of the Toledo restaurant had to contend with long city council debates and a 180-slide Power Point presentation, and just when it was ready to launch the sub zero weather set in. On Thursday, Feb. 7 though Rosie’s will take up its spot at 405 E. Wooster. The parcel  was a gas station, then a car lot, and now will host Rosie’s Rolling Chef every weekend. And if local diners show their interest by patronizing the food truck, maybe something more. Not that Rosie’s is a stranger to Bowling Green. It’s been here for Firefly Nights and a couple Black Swamp Arts Festivals, and Barone was a regular at city council meetings as the city’s food truck ordinance was debated and finally approved in June.  But this is a more regular arrangement, one that owner Phil Barone hopes may even evolve into a physical restaurant. It all depends on how well the hot mama bread, lobster Mac and cheese, lobster bisque, and grilled lamb chops sell. Bowling Green, he said, was one of the last places in the area to open up to food trucks. He’s wanted to do business here for years. He went to Bowling Green State University as did his wife. He graduated in 1978. Though he first went into real estate after graduation, he and his brothers Mike and John  opened Rosie’s in Toledo 36 years ago. The restaurant was named for their mother, the matriarch of the family and chief counselor for the restaurant. She was born in Sicily and immigrated to the United States through Ellis Island, and under the gaze of the Statue of Liberty, when she was 5 years old. “We just lost her about a year ago,” Barone said. She died at 98 last Feb. 4. “We knew how to eat her food,” he said, but preparing it was another matter. “She always made food exciting,’ he said. But the recipes were all in her head, “a pinch of this, pinch of that.” Chef Eric Kish worked with her to tweak them “so we have them down where we want them.” Those recipes found their way to the streets seven years ago. Barone said his brother Frank, a plastic surgeon, had just moved back to the area from Seattle. He took Phil aside and had two words of advice: “food trucks.” He was sure Rosie’s cuisine would be a hit. While it may be with diners, with city officials, not so much. “It’s been a fight the whole way,” Barone said. Photo by Suzanne Myrice 2018/provided Barone knew better than to go into battle alone. He founded the Toledo Food Truck Association, and hired legal counsel, to wage that fight municipality by municipality. “You can’t have laws to curb competition,” Barone said. “The purpose was to get food trucks together so we’re not fighting each other. So we can work together and share good gigs.” Barone practices what he preaches. He noted that a couple other trucks have beat him to the punch in Bowling Green, setting up in nearby lots. The customers for one truck park in the lot he leases from Bob Mauer.  He envisions having one day a week, maybe Wednesdays, where he’ll have other food trucks in the lot. “We can get some more trucks on that lot and have a party,” he said. He’ll invite some artists to display their wares. And there’ll be music. Barone leads Phil Barone and the Cruisers,…

Tourism in Lake Erie region suffering from bad PR

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Michigan continues to kick Ohio’s ass-ortment of tourism efforts. Part of that may be due to the larger amount the state to the north invests in attracting tourists. Part may be due to the algal blooms which make Lake Erie less attractive to visitors. And part may just be because the media keeps talking about that algae, according to Ohio’s top tourism official. Melinda Huntley, executive director of the Ohio Travel Association, spoke earlier this week at the annual TMACOG meeting in Perrysburg. Ohio, she said, has a lot to offer tourists – but isn’t doing a very good job of letting people know. Huntley said she was at a meeting unrelated to tourism recently, when she decided to quiz those present about their first impressions about Lake Erie. These were their one-word answers: Cold – that’s bad, she said.Michigan – that’s very bad.Fishing – that’s good.Boating – “that’s really good,” she said. “True story,” Huntley said, describing another incident where a friend went to a convention along the Mississippi River. People along the shore were marveling at a big boat in the river. Then someone piped up. “Have you ever been to Toledo to see the freighters come off the lakes?” “We all take the granted what we see every day,” Huntley said. Tourists want a variety of activities in places of beauty, heritage, arts and culture. The Lake Erie region can give them hiking, shopping, birding, boating. “They like food and wines,” she said. And they like to take selfies to show others about their adventures. “That’s a challenge.” Ohio has all those. But where the state falls short is in self-promotion. “Perception is reality,” Huntley said. “We may have those things,” but if Ohio doesn’t tell people, they won’t come. Many potential tourists are under the impression that the Lake Erie area is still primarily industrial. “We realize people are geographically challenged,” she said. And many people have the impression that the entire lake is green with algae – except Cedar Point. “It was in the commercials,” she said of the beautiful blue lake surrounding Cedar Point. “It was what they saw.” Lake Erie tourism is still reeling – not from the algal blooms themselves – but from the continuing mention of them by the media, Huntley said. That has led to big impacts on businesses from vacation cancellations, early departures and decreased sales. It’s far too easy for families to scratch Lake Erie off their vacation lists when media coverage lingers on the harmful algal blooms, she said. A Google search for Lake Erie, turned up 18 negative stories and seven positive stories, Huntley said. A search for Lake Erie images came up with 60 percent negative photos. “This is hurting us,” Huntley said, comparing the impact to oil spills where economies struggle to recover. “It’s impacting our ability to promote this region.” According to Huntley, the media is a big part of the problem. “It’s not the algae blooms that’s hurting us – it’s how we are talking about it,” she said. “We need to recoup what we’ve lost.” Huntley suggested that regional leaders take the following steps to boost tourism: Support policies for healthy environments.Support dedicated funding to market Ohio to tourists.Get to know area leaders in the travel industry.Encourage local travel and economic development officials to work together.Recognize the employment value of tourism jobs.Push for schools to start after Labor Day, so the tourism industry doesn’t lose so many workers during a busy time. Michigan spends about $32 million a year to market itself to visitors…

BGSU business & accounting programs have accreditation extended

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) has extended the accreditation of the business and accounting programs at the College of Business at Bowling Green State University. Founded in 1916, AACSB is the longest-serving global accrediting body for business schools and the largest business education network advancing students, educators and business worldwide. AACSB accreditation is the hallmark of excellence in business education and has been earned by less than 5 percent of the world’s business schools, according to AACSB, placing the college among a very exclusive group. Further, only 187 institutions in the world hold additional AACSB accreditation for their accounting programs, a distinction held by the top 1 percent of business programs in the world. “AACSB accreditation is a significant achievement recognizing academic excellence and a commitment of continuous improvement,” said Dean Ray Braun. “A business degree from the BGSU College of Business is a sound investment and this accreditation reaffirms the value for our students and alumni.” To earn and sustain business accreditation, an institution’s business program is required to undergo a rigorous review and evaluation process. During the accreditation process, business school deans with substantial knowledge of business education and accreditation standards visit and evaluate the program. The BGSU college was reviewed based on 15 business accreditation standards including mission and strategic management; support for students, faculty and staff; learning and teaching; and academic and professional engagement of students and faculty.   Additionally, the college submits annual reports to AACSB on enrollments, retention, graduation, faculty and staff levels and hires, salaries and other benchmark data. “The College of Business has a vibrant student-oriented culture where faculty and students thrive in an inspiring and interactive learning environment,” said Dr. Mohammed Khayum AACSB peer review team chair and provost at the University of Southern Indiana. “With 720 internships completed in the last academic year prior to the report, student engagement is impressive. Similarly, advisory board members raved about the student interns they hosted.” The BGSU College of Business undergraduate program has been accredited since 1954. The BGSU MBA program has been accredited since 1966. The accounting program received separate accounting accreditation at the undergraduate level in 1992 and the master’s level in 2002. The BGSU College of Business is ranked among the top 30 public business undergraduate programs in the U.S. by Poets&Quants, a news outlet covering business schools. The new business building, The Robert W. and Patricia A. Maurer Center, is currently under construction and includes the complete renovation of Hanna Hall and a 50,000-square foot addition. It is scheduled to open in fall 2020.

Downtown BG to take over hosting Classics on Main Car Show

From DOWNTOWN BOWLING GREEN As the bitter cold of winter begins to set in on our community, Downtown Bowling Green is keeping its thoughts on the warm summer months; as planning the Classic’s on Main Car Show begins. After three years of management through the Sentinel Tribune, Downtown Bowling Green is now managing and promoting the popular car show for 2019.  Special events manager, Samantha Beane, who also took over the Summer Farmers Market from the Sentinel last year, is looking forward to bringing the show back to the non-profit office and continuing its success.  “We are so thankful for the Sentinel’s willingness to take over the show years ago and after one successful event transition (with the farmers market) last summer, we are looking forward to continuing event success in our office,” said Tony Vetter, director Downtown Bowling Green. The Classics on Main show is set to continue on July 13th from noon to 4 p.m. Committee members have already begun the early plans for this local summer favorite, but are looking for willing volunteers to bring new ideas and excitement to the show, or help day of.  “If anyone out there is a car enthusiast who wants to help make this show a success, I want to talk to you”, said Beane. Email inquiries are welcome at or call the Downtown BG Office at 419-354-4332.  “This shows success is truly community driven, and we look forward to bringing in the veterans who have created the show back, as well as new faces to help introduce our show and town to the next generation”- said Samantha Beane. So Save the Date BG! 

Soybean farmers look beyond current strife to innovative future

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News These are trying times for soybean farmers. A trade dispute between the United States and China has cut out their largest trading partner. Government help has mitigated the loss, but the damage is real. Local farmer Nathan Eckel, though, was not obsessing on present concerns when he addressed the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club Thursday. An active member of the Ohio Soybean Council, he was eager to talk about the future.  The council, paid for by fees assessed to the farmers, is engaged in making sure farmers like Eckel can keep their operations in business.  Eckel is a fifth generation farmer — Eckel Junction Road was named for the family’s original plot. He also raises other commodity crops and has a 800-head livestock operation, on the 2,000 acres he farms. The future, he told club members, includes funding research into new ways to use soybean. The plant now is used in biodiesel, human food, and animal feed. Eckel, who as a trustee of the council chairs its research committee, said the council is active in funding corporate and academic research.  That research includes replacing petroleum-based oils with sustainable and biodegradable soy oil products. A soy-based floor coating has just come to market, he said. Another project is the development of soy fish meal for fish farms in India.  The research committee sends out calls for proposals, and then writes grants for the most promising projects. “We expect a return on the investment we make,”  Eckel said. The council plugs in money at the very early stages and keeps providing equity until the product goes to market. Then, he said, “we start getting our royalties.” One use of those royalties is funding scholarships through the Ohio Soybean Association, a policy body separately funded by members.  Last year the association awarded $45,000 in scholarships.  Those scholars may not end up growing soybeans, but may instead do research or work in some other agriculture-related occupation. The council is also active in programs to teach young people about agriculture. Through Grow Next Gen, Eckel has conducted virtual farm tours with 625 students in 25 classrooms around the state.  “It’s more than putting a seed in the ground, harvesting and taking it to the elevator.” He uses precision data and GPS as well, all the technology the kids are familiar with.  The council also reaches out to find new markets for the products. Those could include developing countries that are just starting to raise livestock. The importance of seeking new markets has been brought home by the current trade dispute between the United States and China. After the U.S. hiked tariffs on Chinese goods, the Chinese have retaliated by reducing the quantity of American soybeans they import. China represented 60 percent of the state’s soybean imports. This year that’s down to 10 percent. About a third of the Ohio’s 250 million bushel crop is exported,  Kirk Merritt, executive director of the council and the association, said. Soybeans are big business. It’s the state’s top crop and top export. The plant generates $2.5 billion with an economic impact of $5.3 billion. Ohio’s 25,000 soybean farmers cultivate 5 million acres. The tariffs have made those farmers’ lives “more challenging,” Merritt said. “The retaliatory tariffs have had a significant impact. … It’s more difficult to turn a profit in farming today.”   Eckel said: “For me as a farmer, it has made an impact directly on my farm. The government’s trying to make some changes through the aid package, and it’s helped. It hasn’t made us quite whole. We hope both sides can…

Collab Lab director Jerry Schnepp tunes into the forces of innovation

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Jerry Schnepp reached this stage of his career taking an unusual path. That’s fitting for someone who leads the Collab Lab, an initiative to spark creative thinking. The rocker by night and innovation initiator by day recently received the Faculty Excellence Award for 2018 from the Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering. Schnepp, 42, splits his time between teaching courses in visual communications technology and directing the Collab Lab at Bowling Green State University. The lab opened just over a year ago. “We call the Collab Lab an idea accelerator, not a maker space,  not a business  incubator, an idea accelerator. It’s a place people can get together with people from other disciplines and develop prototypes. It’s a place we can try things out and not be afraid of failing, and build on that learning experience to develop innovations.” To date the lab helped launch an opioid teach-in on campus, which was both an academic and a civic endeavor. The lab also put together an electronic art summer workshop at the Toledo Museum of Art. Schnepp said the lab has been hosting creative thinking workshops for classes, student organizations and industry partners. A design team from First Solar did a creative thinking workshop with the lab. “It was really valuable to them,” Schnepp said. “This is something we’ll offer to other industry partners.” Schnepp was invited to make a presentation at Epic Toledo’s leadership summit. Epic Toledo is an organization of young professionals and young entrepreneurs who are involved in the community. That invitation, Schnepp said, was gratifying because it recognized that the Collab Lab is viewed as a regional resource, not just a university program. He expects in the future the lab will be able to tell stories about ideas hatched there that have grown into thriving businesses. “That’s what we envision it to be,” he said. “More importantly it’s helping to create a culture of innovation on campus and in the community.”   Schnepp marched to his own tune to get to this point. He grew up in Chicago, and started playing rock music as a 12 year old. That proved his entry into the digital world. This was a time when multi-track recording software and graphics programs including Photoshop and Illustrator were appearing on the market, and he put them to good use. “I just got interested in using computers to make music and do graphic design for my band and other bands.”  It was the last days of dial-up internet service.  “People started using the internet in everything.” He attended the University of Illinois Chicago in Communications, graduating in 2000. He didn’t find a job to his liking, so he pursued graduate studies in human computer interaction at DePaul University in Chicago. The program combined art, psychology, and computer science to study of how people use computers, Schnepp said. “It was a great fit.” It allowed him to study computers without the background in computer science and math. He “parlayed” that into a doctoral  program. He was working on a research project, a system to translate spoken English into American Sign Language represented in a  3-D avatar. The sub-discipline of computer graphics was emerging and that’s what he focused on. That and playing in a metal band. Schnepp said he took awhile to complete his doctorate. In 2012 with his doctorate in hand he brought his talents to BGSU.  He was hired to teach visual communications technology in the College of Technology, Architecture, and Applied Engineering. Students in the program learn about web design, print, video, and photography  and…

First Lunch & Learn seminar covers employee handbooks

From BOWLING GREEN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE The Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a Lunch and Learn business seminar Tuesday, Jan. 29, 11:30 a.m. at 1 p.m. at The Four Corners Center, 130 S. Main St., Bowling Green.  This seminar titled Review Your Employee Handbook is being presented in partnership with The Employers Association and will be facilitated by Colleen House. The workshop cover; the basics of a solid handbook, highlight new requirements, determining how to prepare an employee handbook or review your current handbook for needed updates,  and a general overview of the different sections and policies contained within a comprehensive handbook. A well planned employee handbook will minimize your potential liability with clearly defined structure. The seminar is free for Chamber Investors and $10 for Non-Investors.  Lunch can also be provided for those who attend for an additional $10. Reservations are required by Jan. 25. RSVP by calling 419-353-7945 or emailing Space is limited. Watch for additional information from the Chamber on their 2019 WORK OUT!  Each quarter will focus on specific topics for business: Q1—Resources and Training; Q2 — Workforce Development; Q3 — Marketing; and Q4 —Celebrating Business.

Calico, Sage & Thyme to offer gut health, oils & praise moves sessions

From CALICO, SAGE & THYME Calico Sage & Thyme, 115 Clay St., Bowling Green, is offering  a free “Let’s Gut Healthy,” a series of wellness classes. Sessions on gut health will cover: “The Gut-Brain Connection”;  “The Gut Cause of Inflammatory & Autoimmune Diseases”; “SIBO, Candida, & Leaky Gut”; “Gut Food Addictions?”;  “Digestive Enzymes, Probiotics & Bone Broth”; and “Gluten, Gliadin & Opiates.” Classes will be held Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. starting Jan. 10 and continuing through Feb. 28 with no classes Jan. 24 and 31 and Feb. 7).    Call 419-352-5417 to reserve a spot. Young Living Essential Oils Classes will also be offered Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m.“Reflexology & Essential Oils” with Marie Bowerman will be offered Jan. 15, and Feb. 19.    “Got Oils? Now What?”  Bring your oils and your questions! Will be offered Jan. 8, Feb. 12, Feb. 19, and Feb. 26. Praise Moves! An  alternative to yoga taught by Laurette Willis will be offered Wednesdays 9 a.m. There’s a $5 for the one hour workouts.

Downtown BG seeks ice sculpture sponsors

From DOWNTOWN BOWLING GREEN Winterfest BG Chillabration is back for 2019 on Feb. 8 and 9 even bigger and better than last year. The Saturday evening of live bands in a heated tent, incredible ice bar and amazing ice garden met with rave reviews.  This year a larger Frozen Swamp Tent will not only provide shelter for live music from 4 – 11 p.m., it will also present the Winter Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. All this happens in the Huntington parking lot on the corner of Clough and S. Main Streets. This is also the location for our beautiful ice garden and live ice carving demonstrations.  This year’s sculptures will show a variety of our town’s finest establishments logos and images from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. These amazing works of ice art are sure to be a hit with every age group. This event offers something for everyone.  Families can come out for the day and enjoy the festivities and at night people can enjoy the hours of entertainment, craft beer and wine served from behind the incredible ice bar.   The Downtown Foundation will be overseeing the ice sculpture sales as a fundraiser. The foundation sponsors to commission a custom ice sculpture displayed for the thousands of people expected to attend.  \They will also be seen via our website, social media and WTOL coverage. The funds raised will help us continue to complete beautification projects in our historic downtown.   Contact our office at 419-354-4332 or download an order form from our website at

Mystery solved – Amazon is named as company looking to move into Wood County Crossroads

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The unnamed company looking to locate in the Crossroads area of Wood County has been named – as Amazon – by the county building inspection office. The company, economic development officials and city leaders where the development is planned remained tight-lipped about the name of the company – dubbing it “Project Freddie” for the purposes of discussion. However, Wood County Chief Building Inspector Mike Rudey mentioned to the county commissioners this morning that paperwork from Duke Realty had been filed in his office. The proposed fulfillment center is promising close to 2,000 new jobs. If all goes as planned, it will sit on 100 acres between Deimling Road and South Compass Drive, behind the closed Giant Eagle store off U.S. 20. According to plans, the site will have parking spaces for 1,800 cars and 300 tractor trailer trucks. Building plans call for constructing a 2.8 million-square-foot, four-story facility. Rudey explained that Amazon may have to jump through a few extra hoops because the project doesn’t comply with current building code. That is primarily due to the industry being more technologically advanced that the state’s building requirements, Rudey said. So the company will need to apply for variances from the state. The building will have four stories, with “robots running around bringing products to the perimeter,” Rudey said. “The building code says you can’t build it that way,” he said. But Rudey has no doubt that Amazon will be able to get the necessary variances to proceed. He expects the variances can be secured within two to three weeks, so to not delay the project. Rudey plans to take a “field trip” to a similar Amazon fulfillment facility in Detroit to see how that operates. Last week, Rossford’s planning commission granted three variance requests for the project. The business requested to change the zoning of one of the four parcels to planned industrial, the same as the other parcels. The company also requested a variance to allow screening of the parking lots to be on the exterior of the lots and not on islands within the lots. It also requested a variance to allow an 85-foot tall building. The limit in planned industrial is 35 feet.

Executive tells BGSU grads that they will fail & be better because of it

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The graduates sitting before Maryrose Sylvester Friday night are much like she was 31 years ago. And she should be a model for them, said Bowling Green State University president Rodney Rogers. She’s risen through the ranks of GE to become president and CEO of Current powered by GE, And that in a male-dominated field. “Bowling Green was essential to building my foundation,” Sylvester said.  That included her grounding academically, interpersonally and ethically. She met her husband, Mike, here. He was a rugby player. As she spoke he was back in their Newton, Massachusetts home helping two of their three daughters get ready for the winter dance. Sylvester told the graduates poised to enter a world that unlike college is “messy, unpredictable, and chaotic” that they will realize at some point that they “don’t know anything.” And they will encounter failure, embarrassing, frustrating failure. This is what BGSU prepared them for. “There will be a time when you say: ‘Oh my God, I have no idea what I’m doing, and I’m totally unprepared for this.’” At BGSU, “you learned how to learn. … Embrace the fact that there’s so much to learn,” she said. “Intellectual curiosity and flexibility will fuel your growth. … The day you stop learning is the day you get passed by and will be old.” She recalled her first public workplace failure. She’d studied the problem and confidently presented her solution. “My project failed in spectacular fashion.” Her co-workers’ criticism was withering, she recalled. They told her she was too young for the job and had no idea of how a factory floor worked. Her response was to cry and then get angry at herself for crying, which only made it worse.  Then she set about learning from that failure, and the failures that followed, until she was the best supply chain manager in GE. “I still fail all the time,” Sylvester said. “I’ve learned to embrace failure because I found you learn much more from failure than success.” She said life is a mosaic created from many pieces. Those were two of the five the shaped her life: “You don’t know anything” and “You’re going to fail, so get comfortable being uncomfortable.” Christian Thompson, a newly minted doctor in Media and Communication poses with faculty member Terry Rentner and Thompson’s daughters Rory, four months, and Eliza, 2. The others were: “Time is the most precious resource. Be diligent and thoughtful about how you spend yours. Don’t waste other people’s time and don’t let them waste yours.” Make sure to spend time with loved ones, the executive added.“Hard, focused work and resilience will solve most problems. You will not be able to control all the problems life throws at you, but you will be able to control the way you respond to them.”“Character matters and empathy is underrated.” What the graduates go on to accomplish is important, Sylvester said. But how that’s done is also important. “You can make mistakes, but never sacrifice integrity.” A person’s reputation follows them. “Empathy is about seeing the world through another person’s eyes,” she said. Good leaders understand  that the insights gained through empathy guide them in making decisions. Sylvester received an honorary doctorate of business administration. BGSU had 1,001 candidates for graduation at two ceremonies held this weekend.

Christopher Kline brings right ingredients to new BurGers

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News As a 25-year veteran of the food business, Christopher Kline has plenty of experience opening restaurants. He’s welcomed customers to new eateries during a career working for Texas Roadhouse, The Cheesecake Factory, J. Alexander’s and Pizza Papalis. “But it was always for somebody else, always for other corporations, for other owners, who were making all the decisions,” Kline said, adding, “and a lot times they weren’t the right ones.” Now he’s opened his 10th place, and this one is his. Kline and his business partner and wife, Lisa, have opened BurGers — pronounced BG burgers — at 1424 E. Wooster St., Bowling Green. The restaurant started serving on Friday (Dec. 14, 2018). They’ve taken over the name of the previous tenantand the kitchen equipment, that’s been closed now for two months.  But the approach is all new. Kline has wanted to open his own place for some time. With his work experience and education — a culinary degree from Johnson & Wales as well as a masters degree in business — he’d been dreaming of a steakhouse. But his hometown in Napoleon didn’t fit with that. His wife, who is the finance manager at BG Lincoln Mercury had other ideas.  “Every time he started talking about opening a restaurant, I said, ‘only in Bowling Green.’ … Bowling Green’s the best place in Ohio.” The location, right across the street from campus, is ideal, he said. “I love the food business,” Kline said. “I love what I do. So maybe it’s time to dumb down the ego and do burgers, fries, paninis, a Cuban sandwich, grill cheese.” That simple menu doesn’t mean he’s dumbed down his approach. From the quality of the beef and cheese — purchased from Belleville Brothers Market as proudly announced on the menu — to buns sturdy enough to support a juicy half-pound burger to the quality of the cleaning products, Kline is tuned into the fine details of the operation.  He selected the steak fries to buy so they will survive delivery across town, a service BurGers will offer starting in January. Yes, opening a restaurant does get easier with experience, he said. He knows what the Health Department expects. He knows about training. He knows what to worry about and what not  to. He kept the name, he said, rather than spend money on rebranding. He’d rather be spending time making all the dressings in house, including a signature honey creme mustard, that’s actually his wife’s recipe. The dressing uses a mustard that won top honors in a  Napa Valley contest. From across the room, she hollers to him not reveal more. There’s plenty more he can talk about. Like The Cheesecake Factory cheesecake that the restaurant sells, four varieties including the popular white chocolate raspberry. And the “real” Cuban sandwich with slow roasted pork and ham. And then there’s prettles, an old world breakfast pork product that’s a key feature of the Hangover burger. The namesake burgers come in third and half pound servings. Kline likes the larger size since it can be cooked even well done without drying out. Those burgers can be served with a variety sauces, cheeses, bread — gluten free or even lettuce instead — and toppings. The choices are not overwhelming. He wants his cooks to concentrate on quality, not having to juggle a huge variety of ingredients. The menu has four paninis with combinations of chicken, smoked turkey, ham, pastrami, and bacon as well as cheeses.  In a way all this got started with a tomato rose. As a kid growing up…

BG and Menard’s strike compromise on sign variances

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green officials have been told the city needs to tidy up its “sign clutter.” Tuesday evening, the city took a step to do just that when Menard’s requested a sign that would far exceed the city’s standards. That meant the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals might have had to reject a variance request from Menard’s – which hadn’t yet purchased the 26 acres to build on along the 1200 block of South Main Street, south of Walmart and across Main Street from Home Depot. But before the zoning board ruled Wednesday evening, the company withdrew its request for the massive sign. The pylon sign would have been 15 feet taller than the allowed maximum height of 25 feet, and 110 square feet larger than the 90 square feet maximum. “You could see it from Cincinnati, I think,” said Judy Ennis, head of the zoning board of appeals. The withdrawal of the request saved the board from a tough decision, Ennis said. “They said they wanted to be a good neighbor,” she said Menard’s officials. But while Menard’s pulled its variance request for the large pylon sign, the company stuck with its request for two other sign variances. One was for a wall sign which would be 306 square feet larger than the 90 square feet maximum size allowed. The other was for a total of 12 signs (one pylon sign and 11 wall signs), which would exceed the maximum of three signs allowed for a business. The 12 signs would also exceed the allowable 270 total square footage in signage by 552 square feet. But because of the massive size of the store and the distance it will sit back from the road, the zoning board of appeals granted both of those variance requests. “This store is going to be bigger than most that they have,” Ennis said. And most of the signs will be directional. Menard’s officials told the board Wednesday evening that they want to be ready to open in the spring of 2020. Ennis said she was glad that the store officials seemed to understand the city’s desire to reduce sign clutter and improve aesthetics. It would have been a difficult decision for the board to reject the company’s request – especially since the store had not yet taken the step to purchase the property. City Planning Director Heather Sayler had written a letter to the company explaining the city’s position. “The city simply said they wanted Menard’s to understand they were pleased Menard’s was coming to the city,” but officials wanted the store to comply with signage rules. “We didn’t want anyone to think Bowling Green was unfriendly to business,” Ennis said. Sayler’s letter explained that recent planning efforts in the city have recommended that Bowling Green reduce its sign pollution. The newly-adopted Community Action Plan suggested tighter sign controls, and the Future Land Use Plan recommended distinctive signage and design guidelines along North and South Main streets. Sayler also pointed out that variances remain with the land perpetually. So even if Menard’s were to move, the variance would stay in place. And she said the pylon sign would be out of character for this area of South Main Street. The adjacent pylon signs at Home Depot and WalMart comply with the city’s zoning code. The closest sign variance for height and size is for McDonald’s on South Main Street, which was a legal non-conforming sign first built in the 1970s, Sayler said. According to Sayler, many communities are adopting tougher rules for signage. So if variances are…

Mystery development gets approvals in Rossford

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Rossford Planning Commission tonight (Dec. 12, 2018) approved key measures to allow the development of a project in the Crossroads area by an unnamed company. Mayor Neil MacKinnon responded “absolutely” when asked if the project would be game changing for the area in the southern reaches of the city. Presenting the proposal at the meeting was Nathan Harris of Duke Realty. He would not comment further on the project after the meeting. Wade Gottschalk, Wood County Economic Development executive director, said he and others involved were operating under the conditions of a non-disclosure agreement. An article earlier this week in the Toledo Blade provided informed speculation that it may be an Amazon fulfillment center. What’s not a mystery is the size of the project. Situated on 100 acres off between Deimling Road and South Compass Drive, behind the Giant Eagle, the site will have parking spaces for 1,800 cars and 300 tractor trailer trucks. The plans call for constructing a 2.8 million-square-foot , four-story facility. MacKinnon said the final announcement about the project will be left to the as-yet-unnamed company. “I would guess in spring,” MacKinnon said. Before the planning commission was a request to change the zoning of one of the four parcels to planned industrial, the same as the other parcels. Duke on behalf of its client also requested a variance to allow screening of the parking lots to be on the exterior of the lots and not on islands within the lots. It also requested a variance to allow an 85-foot-tall building. The limit in planned industrial is 35-feet. All three requests were granted unanimously.  Zoning Administrator Mark Zuchowski said that the final site plan might be ready by the Planning Commission’s next meeting.

BG’s front door on East Wooster Street needs serious facelift

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green’s front door is not exactly creating a great first impression for those entering the city. Knowing this, the city and BGSU hired Development Strategies to examine the 1.8 miles of East Wooster from Interstate 75 to the downtown. The firm has spent six months interviewing officials and residents, examining housing data, looking at construction costs, studying the zoning code, and more. On Tuesday evening, Matt Wetli and Anne Stevenson from Development Strategies presented their findings to City Council’s Committee of the Whole. Changes along the East Wooster corridor have the potential to increase jobs, bring more visitors, improve the housing stock, attract more development to the city, and convince more people to live and shop right here in Bowling Green. But the front door needs a facelift. “It’s the way most people come to know Bowling Green,” Wetli said. “First impressions are really important. This corridor is so important.” One of the goals would be to meet the needs of the city residents and the university – an issue Wetli is accustomed to handling “We tend to work in a lot of university communities,” and realize that the health of the city and university are intertwined, he said. The planners divided the 1.8 miles into four sections, with some potential focuses for each – though not all will be affordable for developers right now: Midtown, which are the blocks closest to downtown. Ideally that area would be good for student and young professional apartment buildings, creative office space, street level retail, boutique hotels, and gas station reuse projects.Eds and Meds, which are the blocks next to the university and the Falcon Health Center. That area would work well for other health care services, senior housing, and townhouses.Walkable hospitality district, which includes the blocks with hotels and restaurants. That area would attract more developers and more visitors with stricter zoning building specifications, Wetli said.The interchange area, which will be improved with the proposed roundabouts, and will look better with “gateway” signage. The entire corridor can’t be transformed at once, so “we need to be judicious,” Wetli said. And the community will need to shift from being reactive to proactive. “Things aren’t just going to magically happen,” he said “It’s going to take work.” Wetli talked about the transformation of the Kent State community. “It’s really inspiring what they’ve been able to pull off,” he said. “It didn’t happen overnight, and it didn’t happen with a single developer. But, wow, what results they’ve gotten.” Bowling Green could potentially pull off the same type of transformation, Wetli said. Wetli posed the possibility of Bowling Green becoming a smaller version of Ann Arbor – for Northwest Ohio. People from the Toledo area often drive up to Ann Arbor for arts and dining opportunities. Why not Bowling Green? “You all are so much closer,” and have access to arts through BGSU. “If you could just get 10 percent of those folks,” headed from Toledo to Ann Arbor, “that would have a profound impact.” It would, in turn, attract more businesses to Bowling Green. “This way you could grow the pie,” of economic development – not just continue dividing up the same small pie, Wetli said. “Make this a destination,” he said. “Figure out ways to harness” the historic downtown and the artistic campus. “Put Wooster to work,” by encouraging business incubators to be set up by student startups. And public art is a good way to “create those Instagram moments,” that might attract younger people to Bowling Green, Wetli said. The planners from Development Strategies got…