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Full-Time Felines: Columbus cats are becoming a business’ best friend

Jeni Ruisch

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In ancient Egypt, where we see the first evidence of the domestication of felines, cats were worshipped. They were mummified upon their death, and the bereaved would shave their eyebrows in grief. This ancient relationship started when it was discovered that cats would stand guard over grain storages, the only ones fast and agile enough to control the number one enemy of burgeoning food backup systems during the dawn of civilization: rodents.

Plus, kittens are cute.

I’ve never been a cat person, but one thing I can respect is a working animal. Fast forward several millennia to the modern-day memequeens and little living room lions that jump-started the internet, and their mouse-catching days are all but behind them. I believe we could refer to the species as a whole at this point as semi-retired.

But there still does exist a tradition under which cats thrive, and even the most curmudgeonly dog person must admit that a cat is the most capable animal partner: the business cat. Even Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic strip, decided that cats were the most likely species to control HR, and created Catbert and the “random policy generator” to match the often fickle nature of the feline. But the partnership is actually much more basic.

A building with any storage area is vulnerable to the aforementioned vermin. Also, you need an animal with specific qualities to hang out at your place of business all day and not muddy your entrepreneurial waters.

First, you need a lounge animal. Nobody wants to enter an establishment that has a spazzy mascot on staff. You also want one that hangs back, in case your diverse clientele are not animal-inclined.

Now how many dogs do you know that fit that bill? A few, yes. Mostly the large and lazy kind.

However, a traditional business that relies wholly on grain to render its wares has a special position custom-built for a feline. Brewery cats are the original business cats. This mutually-beneficial relationship has existed since humans figured out the brewing and distillation process.

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Modern day has changed this relationship: though the ability to catch mice is less necessary than it was eons ago. Today, this has been replaced with a new job description: social media darling. If brew pubs, tasting room, bars and distilleries rely on one thing to expand business, it’s social media. And nothing shares quicker on social media than cute kitties lolling around on bags of barley, or sneaking snuggles from otherwise burly, tattooed brewers.

The Granville Brewing Company has a special employee that made his way into their grain room, and hearts.

“Bluto was dropped off in a box on someone’s doorstep with two other very young kittens,” says Kaitlin Johnson of Granville Brewing Company. “We had some mice getting into the brewery and trying to get into our grain. We asked around to see what was the best way to get rid of the mice; with poison, snap traps, or sticky traps. We were told the best way is to just get a cat. Bluto is our mouser. He keeps the mice out of the brewery and when they get in, he eats them.”

This is ancient symbiosis at its best. But the modern office politics element is not lost on the human employees of the brewery.

“Frankly,” Johnson says, “taproom visitors love him too.”

The position, like in many other fields, has evolved. Cats are of benefit in more than just a brewery. David Lewis of Elizabeth’s Records keeps a full- time feline on staff.

Lewis has always been on the office cat bandwagon, saying that, “Throughout our decade of history our slogan has always been “Do you like cats?”

“A year ago I decided that I was spending a lot of time here by myself in the summer and craved company and made the executive decision to get a store cat. [Jonesy] was too small [when we first got him] to leave here all of the time, so we brought him home every night to the other three cats in our family,” explained Lewis. “Jonesy is the perfect store cat—he stays over two nights a week now and he loves being here! He loves female attention; he sits on the counter or in the window and greets people as they come in. He’s good with children, doesn’t try to run out the door, and has a respectful fear of passing fire trucks.”

The exact description of the perfect office animal. Plus they don’t ask for too many raises.

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Things To Do

Hit Your Peak: 3 worth-the-drive ski slopes near Columbus

Asa Herron

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The cursed Ohio Winter Monster has made its presence known to all with its 5pm sunsets, snow storms, and seasonal depression for all. How are you going to fight back against the gloom this year? It may seem like it’s impossible to do fun things with your friends or to stay active in the winter, but I’m here to tell you that not all hope is lost. Finding a new hobby is a great way to kick your winter woes to the curb and start the new decade on a good foot.

Skiing can be a great way to casually exercise with friends and resuscitate your serotonin levels. Here are three high quality places to ski within driving distance of Columbus for you to check out.

MAD RIVER MOUNTAIN

Located in Zanesfield, Mad River Mountain is about an hour's drive northwest of Columbus. They have the most reasonable prices of all the nearby ski resorts. Plus, their on-property bar, The Loft, has 12 taps of craft beers on rotation to add a little more fun to the night. Mad River is open until 1 a.m. on Fridays, too, so you’re getting a full Friday night of flurries.

Mad River is home to over 20 trails (spanning 3.9 miles) and four terrain parks making it the largest ski resort in Ohio. They also bolster ten ski lifts (the most in Ohio) and are tied with Snowtrails for the largest vertical drop in the state with their 300 foot slope. An added perk of Mad River is that they just built a new $6.2 million facility in 2016 to replace the space they lost to a fire in 2015. Plus, most of their trails are designated “easy” difficulty. Mad River has everything you need to have a relaxing, affordable day of skiing.

Details on hours and pricing can be found at www.skimadriver.com.

SNOWTRAILS

Founded in 1961, Snowtrails is Ohio’s oldest ski resort. It is located in Mansfield, so also about an hour drive north. This resort is only slightly more expensive, with lift rates starting at $31 for midweek evenings and $52 for all-day on the weekends, with skis, boots, and pole rentals are $37. If there’s one day this month that you visit Snowtrails, let it be January 25 for their mid-season party. Get ready for an outdoor DJ, a custom built snowbar, and a fireworks show 30 minutes after the slopes close for the night. Not into skiing? No problem! The party is free and open to the public, so let your expert friends hit the slopes while you hit the spirits at the snow bar.

Snowtrails is the second largest resort in the state with six ski lifts and 3.3 miles of trails. The majority of their trails are designated “intermediate” difficulty, so more experienced skiers will enjoy their time here.

More information can be found at www. snowtrails.com.

BOSTON MILLS & BRANDYWINE

Boston Mills & Brandywine is the farthest ski resort from Columbus on this list, but great for a full weekend away. This quaint resort is in Peninsula, OH is a two hour drive from Central Ohio. Their pricing is $40 after 3:30 p.m. and $45 for an all-day pass. Staying another night? Come back on Saturday for $5 Late Nights admission from 8:00 PM to 1:00 AM.

Boston Mill & Brandywine ski resort is known for being especially conducive to beginning skiers. They offer high quality lessons and will walk you through the process. This is the place to go if you have “stupid” questions about skiing, or just want to tube. However, they also appeal to veteran skiers as the majority of their 18 trails are designated “advanced”. Despite the high quantity of trails, this resort is much smaller than the other two, with only 1.2 miles of skiable trails, and their largest vertical drop being 264 feet. But for these prices? Could definitely be worth the trip.

Learn more about Boston Mills & Brandywine at www.bmbw.com.

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Arts & Culture

Watch: “World’s largest mural” in Short North is more than meets the eye

Regina Fox

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At a glance, "The Journey AR Mural" adorning the Graduate Columbus hotel in Short North is stunning. Look a little harder, and it actually comes to life.

Standing at over 107 feet tall and over 11,000 square feet of augmented reality, "The Journey AR Mural," is the world's largest AR mural, offering technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user's view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.

The gaily-painted snapdragons, hibiscus, Easter lilies, and hummingbirds bloom and fly when viewed through the Journey AR Mural app (free for iPhone and Android). Watch the murals come to life in the video below.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B7PRvBxpBkI/

Los Angeles-based artists Ryan Sarfati and Eric Skotnes (going by “Yanoe” and “Zoueh," respectively) are the creatives behind the project.

In an interview with Short North Arts District, Skotnes revealed he was inspired to take on the project after learning that Columbus is home to the second largest population of Somali immigrants in the country—he hopes the murals symbolize strength and prosperity for its viewers.

To learn more about The Journey AR Mural, visit shortnorth.org.

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Food & Drink

Worth the Drive: Lima’s Kewpee Hamburgers

Regina Fox

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Lima, OH may not be the first destination that comes to mind when planning a road trip, but you may have to reconsider after learning about a little (AKA one of the oldest burger chain in the world) not-so-hidden gem called Kewpee Hamburgers.

It all started in 1923 when Kewpee Hotel Hamburgs opened in Flint, Michigan. This was home to the "Mity nice Hamburger," which could be purchased for just a nickel. Kewpee was also known for its life-sized naked mascot baby, created to the likeness of the classic comic strip Kewpie dolls.

By 1940, the chain rebranded to simply "Kewpee Hamburgers," and was 400-locations strong. From Ohio to New York City, Kewpee's stole the hearts of Americans with its square patties, hot chili, thick shakes, homey diner atmosphere, and not-to-be-beaten prices.

During its rise to popularity, Kewpee also managed to revolutionize the fast food game by becoming one of the first restaurants to offer a drive-thru.

But much to the dismay of its fans far and wide, most restaurants in the franchise met their demise during WWII meat shortages.

Kewpee's time-honored legacy lives on in Lima, OH where the only three remaining restaurants are located. Despite its novelty across the country, Kewpee continues to offer guests their beloved greasy grub at rock-bottom prices ($2.45 for a cheeseburger? Take that, Five Guys).

It's hard to believe that such a famed piece of America's food history is just 90 minutes from Columbus, but it's true and definitely worth the drive. How could you say no to this innocent, yet slightly ominous face?

To learn more about Kewpee Hamburgers, click here.

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