Tuesday, April 9, 2019

[Suburbia Lost] By Night

Some new Suburbia Lost entries that, despite their derelict status, are all aglow in the evening. An office supply store, a ubiquitous fast food restaurant, and a bank.

Staples recently unveiled a new brand identity (via an overly-elaborate video that gained some internet infamy), but their previous look remains familiar, even when they scrub off the logo and ditch a location. The cool-temperature lights inside the building now call to prospective new tenants (in an area awash with plenty of vacant strip mall real estate) rather than office supply hungry patrons. Note the other abandoned building sharing the parking lot in the background.

At this former Chase Bank north of Cincinnati in Forest Park, the lights are still shining. If the power’s still on, do the pneumatic tubes of the drive-through still work? This building could honestly make a cool coffee shop/restaurant/bar ala The Village Troubador (another re-purposed bank in nearby Green Hills). Make some outdoor seating under the awning and deliver cans of local beer via bank tube.

I’d been seeing the abandoned Taco Bell just off the interstate for a bit, its lights shining as if they were still beckoning the thirsty populace towards 'Baja Blast' and its "vintage" appearance. Getting to this place from the highway was a bit of an adventure—a maze of temporary ramps and orange barrels that speak to the vast amount of road construction in the area. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the reason for this business’ closure, but the cross-street Wendy’s was still humming along with a steady stream of customers among the din of engine brakes from the nearby expressway.

Interstate work in this area is nothing new, several nearby homes were documented here on QC/D back in 2013 when they were demolished for the freeway expansion.

- How can you 'Live Mas' when the order screen has no internet connection?

View the other entries in the Suburbia Lost series.


  1. I can't believe that was 2013. I guess the bell caved to the construction?

    1. That's my best guess. RIP little dog from the commercials.

  2. 90's Taco Bell Aesthetics!

    1. I love it - is this 90s, though? I think this may be early-mid 2000's after this era: http://www.roadarch.com/08/4/tacobell3.jpg

  3. Huh. When I switched to Chase as my bank in late 2016, that was the branch I signed up in. That whole Northland Plaza has really gone downhill. So many abandoned spaces. LaRosa's sent out an email a couple years back informing its customers that the FP location would be switching to delivery/carryout only. A shame since they had a nice eat-in area. My grade school buddy was a manager there and my friend Brett, a professional magician, used to do shows there. As a kid, Mom would bring me along to the Marsh grocery store from time to time. Through the years, that Marsh became rather ratty. At one time it was replaced by Lo-Bill (which I was told was in the Marsh family of stores). Years after that, it became Marsh again. Not sure of the exact history after that but I believe now the store has been spilt into 2 sections: one remaining vacant, the other side becoming one of those classy dollar stores. An outlying building, The Cruise Inn used to be a great place to go as a kid because it was a Friendly's restaurant. Not sure if any of those are left in the Tri-State region. They had a passable Bob Evans-type menu, but what set them apart was they had a full ice cream/soda fountain/UDF type thing going on. I used to love love love their coffee ice cream. Matter of facet, I remember as a 6 or so year old stopping at that Friendly's before dawn for breakfast before the fam set off in our faux-wood paneled station wagon to take a road trip to the Sea World up north. Last but not least, I wish I had made the effort to visit Forest Park Restaurant in the strip as it had been there forever. In its last years I noticed they had a coney special on a certain day and I'm alyways up for options other than Skyline & God Star. Somehow, I never made it in there. The parking spaces in front of it always seemed empty. Anyhoo, as a guy who grew up in Greenhills, I made tons and tons of trips to Northland Plaza, or past it on the way to Tri County. Too bad the Plaza is in the shape it's in now. Sign of the times I suppose. Bonus Point: Did you know, past the Plaza headed down Northland towards Tri-County, for many years stood (of all things) a Porsche dealership? I believe it was technically located in Springdale, not Forest Park. But still, that always made me scratch my head.

    1. Hey Dave,

      Thanks for sharing such awesome memories and insight! I remember a bit from this place back in the day, but not too much. My grandparent's lived nearby and my dad worked across the street. You hit on a lot of awesome things, so I'm gonna break this up a bit:

      -> I'm not a LaRosa's fan so I didn't know about that pickup/delivery thing. They also used to have a police substation operating out of that location if I remember correctly.

      -> I remember both Marsh and LoBill. Fairfield had the same issue: Marsh converted then converted back. It was never a great grocery store compared to the nearby Kroger. In Forest Park, the former Marsh is a Dollar Store (like you said) and a Nepali grocery (with great stuff).

      -> I always heard about The Friendly's, but that's a real bummer - I'd kill for an old school ice cream parlor like that. UDF is just a cheap knock off of the concept and always has bad service no matter the location.

      -> As for that Sea World, not sure if you've seen, but we covered that once on here: http://queencitydiscovery.blogspot.com/2013/03/stabbed-with-fork-near-what-used-to-be.html

      -> Forest Park Restaurant was a true gem and its demise was really sad (http://queencitydiscovery.blogspot.com/2017/05/lament-of-forest-park-restaurant.html) but I can say that the new Nepali place that went in is amazing. They preserved the interior, the food is fantastic, and the owner is a super nice guy.

      -> And as for that Porsche Dealership, I definitely remember it: http://queencitydiscovery.blogspot.com/2013/03/suburbia-lost-porsche-dealership.html

      Springdale and Forest Park have changed a lot in recent history.

    2. Thinking of Friendly's inspired me to see where they still have locations. Looks like it's all strictly east coast places, so they are still around. It also seems they are in very recent hot water for closing 23 restaurants without notice, IE workers showed up for their shifts only to find the doors locked: https://www.pressconnects.com/story/news/local/2019/04/10/schumer-talks-workers-rights-urges-investigation-into-friendlys-closures/3422325002/

      I think I've read just about every entry on QC/D, so sometimes I forget what you guys have done pieces on :) I remember the Sea World one being good.

      And yes both Springdale (mostly for the better) and Forest Park (mostly for the worse) have changed. Beloved Greenhills restaurant Riley's expanded to a second, bigger location in Springdale by rt 4/across from White Castle then closed the original GH location. Then closed the bigger 2nd location. It must be all about the rent, and I guess their clientele skewed old, sad to say.

      Speaking of Greenhills, and sorry to veer so far off the subject of the above article, but the Greenhills Shopping Center & Greenhills would definitely be worth a look in so far as some sort of future article. Greenhills itself is pretty landlocked as far as being able to grow due to the Winton Woods park boundries around most of it; also the "Greenbelt" surrounding GH has a psychologically historical importance to residents in that nobody wants it touched for development - the Mobilcomm tower that was built at Sharon & Winton severely pissed off almost all GH folks back in the early '80s since it took out a chunk of the Greenbelt.

      We lost Damon Rd Elementary, Greenhills Middle School, Greenhills High School and Our Lady of the Rosary 1-8 (where I went) due to mergers or outright closures. The GH shopping center had 2 gas stations and 2 grocery stores at one time. Johnny's Toys closed, and it was THE PLACE to get every sort of toy. Lost a classic bowling alley & barber shop that had been around for 45+ years. Just about the only redeeming place in the center, as you know, is the coffee shop. Anyway, sorry to ramble. If you need any history in general on GH, I'm on FB, and another good source would be the FB group You know you grew up in Greenhills if.... Tons of internet articles about GH detailing the founding and history abound as well.

      Thanks always for you good work Ronny! Cheers

    3. Dave, it has been awesome reading your memories (you're not verring at all). It's always great to hear personal connections like this. That's a bummer about Friendly's. If I had money—I'd re-open Joe's Diner in OTR as a traditional (cheap, 24hrs, coffee) diner with a classic ice cream parlor. Riley's was great. I was bummed to see it was gone when I moved up to Springdale. I was in GH for a Cincy Refined assignment back in February and spent some time at that shopping center. It's really kind of fallen on hard times. Is the ice cream stand still open? We loved it as kids.

      Appreciate you reading!

      And - Johnny's Toys! Such a shame. Such a damn shame. I wonder if the castle still exists in whatever that place is now?

    4. Yes, the castle still exists! https://www.reddit.com/r/cincinnati/comments/b7e9ji/bargains_buyouts_green_hills_still_has_the_castle/

    5. Damn, unfortunately it looks like that's one the new tenants have painted. Looks like these folks saved an OG castle, though: https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2017/05/03/embrace-your-childhood-johnnys-toys-birthday-castle-reopens/101251760/

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    7. Yeah, the OG castle looks pretty authentic. The birthday gifts (all wrapped so you wouldn't know what you got) were basically clearance/overstock stuff - ball & jacks, ball on a string/cup etc but boy oh boy was it exciting to go in there as a kid on your birthday!!! Throw in some free Birthday video game tokens from the old Malibu Gran Prix arcade off Sharon Rd by I-75/the old Princeton High School and you are SET!!

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