Fundraising Dinners at Two Top Cincinnati Restaurants to Benefit WordPlay Cincy this October


Contact: Reba Hennessey, (513) 541-0930,

The public is invited to attend the October 9th and October 25th events

that will help fund innovative learning programs for Cincinnati youth.

Two of Cincinnati's most beloved and award-winning restaurants, Ruth's Parkside Cafe and Nicola's Ristorante Italiano, will host fundraising dinners at their respective locations for the non-profit WordPlay Cincy. WordPlay offers free learning and enrichment programs for Cincinnati youth, both in the field and at its Northside writing center (4041 Hamilton Ave., Cincinnati, 45223.) All proceeds from both events will benefit WordPlay.

On Sunday October 9, Ruth's Parkside Cafe marks its third anniversary with a lively benefit buffet dinner and party in what has become an annual tradition for the popular Northside restaurant inside the historic American Can Building. Ruth's chose WordPlay Cincy as the beneficiary of this year's benefit. "I volunteered at WordPlay, helping kids do homework, while we were waiting for Ruth's to come together," says Mary Kroner, co-owner of Ruth’s. "Since then, WordPlay has grown into so much more for kids."

"Ruth's is a wonderful example of the best of Northside," says Libby Hunter, Executive Director of WordPlay. "Mary and [co-owner] David [Tape] are business leaders with a long history in the community, deeply committed to improving the quality of life for all."

Billy Alletzhauser and Beth Harris of the popular band The Hiders will play their trademark "lazy rockin' country soul" music, and children and teens from WordPlay's programs will perform their spoken word poetry.

Tickets are $35, and include a full dinner--appetizers, main courses, side dishes and desserts--plus non-alcoholic drinks and entertainment. A cash bar will run all evening. The event begins at 5pm, with appetizers served, accompanied by music and performances. The dinner portion of the buffet will be served 6:30 - 8:30pm, with continued live music. Tickets are available exclusively by contacting Reba Hennessey at WordPlay Cincy (contact info above) or online by visiting

A very different sort of dinner will take place a later that month, on Tuesday, October 25. It's a five-course chef's tasting dinner at the noted fine-dining establishment Nicola's Ristorante Italiano, at 1420 Sycamore Street in Over-the-Rhine. This marks WordPlay Cincy's first sit-down fundraising dinner.

The evening begins at 5:30pm. The courses in the chef's tasting menu include an appetizer, salad, pasta course, meat course, and dessert. (A vegetarian option will be available upon advance request; Nicola's prides itself in accommodating dietary preferences.) Nicola's chef Aaron Owens is widely praised for his innovative takes on traditional Italian food, cooked with finesse using only the freshest, carefully sourced ingredients.

Tickets for the Nicola's dinner are $150, and include the full tasting menu with wine pairings. Non-alcoholic drinks will also be available, and a cash bar will run all evening. Tickets must be purchased by October 1. They are available exclusively through WordPlay Cincy by contacting Reba Hennessey (contact info above) or online at

"WordPlay’s programs and the youth that they serve are very close to my heart. Having seen first-hand the amazing difference that WordPlay is making in the lives of kids and teens, I am enthusiastic about hosting this event. This is how I give back to the community." says Nicola Pietoso, who is not only the owner and namesake of the restaurant, but also a board member of WordPlay.

"We are honored to have had Nick Pietoso serving on our Board of Trustees for over a year now," says Libby Hunter, Executive Director of WordPlay. "His commitment to a strong and viable future for WordPlay and the children we serve has only deepened in this time. His very generous offer to host our first annual fundraising dinner is a major step for our organization in terms of outreach to a new audience, deepening relationships with a donor base vital to our sustainable growth."

A volunteer learning coach reads with kids at WordPlay's writing center in Northside.


WordPlay Cincy is a 501(c)3 nonprofit empowering Cincinnati youth

from kindergarten to 12th grade through free innovative learning programs.

Since its 2012 inception, more than 650 youth have participated in WordPlay's programs, which run five days a week. More than 5,000 individuals have taken part in additional events, workshops, and performances.


Opened by veterans of Cincinnati's restaurant business (Mullane's and Arnold's in particular), Ruth's serves hearty American fare that is locally sourced and made from scratch. Its soaring space in the American Can Building is decorated with art in rotating exhibitions.


Cincinnati magazine calls it "so fluently on the mark that other Italian restaurants on American soil can sometimes feel contrived." Nicola's Ristorante Italiano has been a fine dining staple in Over-the-Rhine for two decades. Heralded for its contemporary menu, extensive wine list, and unique dining spaces, Nicola's offers top-rated dining in a warm and inviting ambiance. Owners Nicola and Maureen Pietoso maintain a reputation for what Zagat describes as "chic, exquisite and innovative."

#events #fundraisers #nicolas #ruthsparksidecafe

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