About nine times a year, the local business community near the corner of Woodburn Avenue and Madison Road in East Walnut Hills opens its doors for a Walk on Woodburn and invites residents and visitors to give them a taste of an eclectic neighborhood. From 6-9 p.m. on a Friday, people can visit participating stores, meet the owners, purchase the merchandise and have a light bite.

With renovations such as a kiosk, attractive street lamps, electric lines buried below the street and new businesses opening, this unusual walk attracts not only neighbors, but also people who are not familiar with the area. It features individually owned stores, as opposed to chains. Kenwood Mall, it is not; rather, it is a charming few streets with businesses plying their wares.

For starters, the hub of the East Walnut Hills community is DeSales Café, owned by Sandy Vierling, who runs the coffee shop with her husband John. Everyone from street people to former state Sen. Stanley J. Aronoff stop in for coffee, conversation and community. Sandy extends a warm welcome to anyone who visits her café. While it is now essentially a coffee spot, she plans to expand its offerings to include tapas, wine and beer as a restaurant with longer hours.

Across the street on Woodburn are several stores. Steinkamp Outfitting owned by Bernie Steinkamp features kayaks, outfitting clothes and fly fishing equipment.

Further down Woodburn is Leftcoast Modern owned by Rob Hofbauer, who specializes in modernist furniture from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. While his prices are mid-range, he aims to please his customers who ask for modern furniture. Hofbauer is also an artist and painter, who exhibits in his store.

An unusual consignment store in the area is Hi-Bred, which features vintage clothes, jewelry, furniture and housewares. Shawna Guip has managed the store for four years, and sees an uptick in business from its inception. Occasionally, she opens the basement for sales. Customers come from all over the Tristate to visit this destination store.

Manifest Creative Research Gallery and Drawing Center is one of the best-kept secrets in Cincinnati, according to founding executive director and chief curator Jason Franz. On the Dec. 11 Walk on Woodburn, Franz had five galleries open. Manifest regularly hosts artists from across the country, including all 50 states and 40 different countries. This December evening featured the winner of the juried Manifest Prize, Josh Gomez, who created “Yves, as in Jacques-Yves Cousteau.” This is the 12th season for the gallery with over 5,000 visitors this year.

Franz comments that the DeSales corner of stores is in transition, but ripe with potential. This writer noted that several stores, such as Le Bon Vivant, Treasures for Charity and Heterotopia have closed their doors. 

On the other hand, relatively new to the area is Myrtle’s Punch House owned by Cincinnati mixologist Molly Wellmann, who also spearheads Famous Neons Unplugged and Japp’s. On the corner of Myrtle and Woodburn, the Punch House features an upstairs bar with a built-in fireplace as well as stone alcove booths downstairs. Originally an empty storefront on DeSales Corner, The Growler House is a neighborhood bar with an original chalkboard of beers and prices.

For a Pan Asian experience, try Suzy Wong’s on Woodburn Avenue. Nate Johnson is the front-of-the-house manager of the restaurant owned by Hui and Yan Mei. Johnson says, “The neighborhood has changed a lot. Already a fun area to play in, it is a good spot to walk. People have a cocktail before the Walk on Woodburn and dinner afterward.”