It's hard to sum up Dhani Jones: Former bengal, philanthropist, former star of The Travel Chanel's Dhani Tackles The Globe and currently host of VH1's new show, Ton of Cash. Still, there's one real way to describe him: Cincinnatian. Owner of The Bowtie Café, Dhani loves this city and this week talked with Yelp Community Manager Alex S all about it.
Alex S: Talk to me about your café, resting on top of one of Mt. Adam’s many hills.
Dhani: The café is great. With the café, I hope to reach people in a different format. I want it to be a melting post of understanding and conversation. We want to be a place where politicians come to debate, town hall meetings are held, private parties are put on, speaker series are noted. We want people to come up here and listen and be inspired. I mean, everyone has a cause, but if you don’t have one now, eavesdrop on someone here and find your new one. We want to be the corner in Mt. Adams where people know good things are happening.
Alex S: Do you like Mt. Adams as a neighborhood?
Dhani: I love Mt. Adams. And summer time’s the best time to be in Mt. Adams. Everybody’s outside, everybody’s having a good time. I love the community. There are only so many ways to get up here and so many ways to get down, so if you’re coming up here, you’re coming up here with a purpose.
Alex S: I know you’re a big proponent of riding bikes instead of cars, Dhani. So what’s your opinion on the proposed streetcar?
Dhani: I think the streetcar would add an incredible dimension to the city … it would add another element of glitz and glamor to the city. Its evidence of Cincinnati’s growing nature.
Alex S: A lot of people who are for the streetcar are using it to promote the developing area of Over-the-Rhine. What’s your take on OtR?
Dhani: Over-the-Rhine is definitely up and coming. A lot of people are moving into that vicinity and there’s great restaurants like Senate and Lavomatic. You know, in Cincinnati is takes a little while for things to catch on. It’s like, “Ok, I’m used to going here, I don’t know if I want to go there” but it’s all about opening up the door and being ready for a new situation. And I think Cincinnati is becoming more and more open.
Alex S: And Yelp is helping them to do just that!
Alex S: So what restaurants does Dhani Jones haunt?
Dhani: Besides the Bowtie Café? (laughs) I’ve been too Ambar, the Indian restraint. That’s a great spot. Nada. I love Mexican food. I also go to Morton’s all the time for their steak. There’s really great restaurants here in Cincinnati. Oh, GreenPapaya, great sushi. It’s so good, so consistent.
Alex S: Besides great eats, what are three things Cincinnati offers that you couldn't live without?
Dhani: Oh, The Righteous Room for a drink. I love going down to the stadium for work. Let’s see, Mirror Lake in Erie Park. That’s really beautiful. Hmmm, I like going by Lunken Airport too.
Alex S: Really? What do you do at Lunken?
Dhani: There’s a great park right there where people go running and play sports. It’s nice. I like to just sit there and watch the players.
Courtesey of VH1
Alex S: Talk to me about your new VH1 show.
Dhani: Well, 14 people who are in dire straits, in financial peril if you will, try to win a million dollars. They actually get a million up front and have to go through different exercises and adventures in order to keep the cash. And at the end of the day, one person keeps all the money. And I’m hosting it.
Alex S: There’s actually been a lot of Cincinnati on reality TV recently, what with Police Women of Cincinnati and the Mayor on Undercover Boss. As a former reality TV host, why do you think Cincy’s such a cinematic place?
Dhani: A lot of people have said that more people watch reality TV here in Cincinnati than a lot of other places so it’s sort of a proving ground. If you can make it in reality in Cincinnati, you can make it anywhere. I also think there's a lot of interesting people here in Cincinnati, they want to learn their stories.
Courtesy of The Travel Chanel.
Alex S: Are we going to see more of Dhani tackling the globe?
Dhani: No, maybe not as much of me tackling the globe, but maybe some other things. I’m looking at some other opportunities and will see what’s going to happen.
Alex S: If someone were to review you on Yelp, do you think you'd get a 5-star rating?
Dhani: Of course! Why not?
Alex S: What about the team?
Dhani: Uh, the team … you know, Cincinnati is heavily opinionated, so we’ll just leave that for the people to decide.
Alex S: Any tips for yelpers when at a Bengals game? Something either they don’t do or you wish the fans would do?
Dhani: I think we should do a wave?
Alex S: You don’t think there are enough waves?
Dhani: I don’t ever see a wave. I think there should actually be a little more fan interaction. You know whistles, fog horns, people acting crazy, streaking. People do those type of things, it makes it more entertaining!
Alex S: Ok, so why the bow tie?
Dhani: One of my friends challenged me, saying if I wanted to be anybody I had to rock the bow tie. I didn’t really buy into his idea, but then he got sick with cancer. I put the bow tie on, he got better and I never took the bow tie off.
Alex S: Anything else you want to say about Cincinnati
Dhani: You know, Cincinnati’s become home. It’s a special place, it’s become family. I like being here. I’m going to stay here.