New ‘Explore Hamilton’ app for finding restaurants, businesses and events debuts today

This is what the first page of the new Explore Hamilton looks like on a phone. MIKE RUTLEDGE/STAFF
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This is what the first page of the new Explore Hamilton looks like on a phone. MIKE RUTLEDGE/STAFF

The Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce intentionally picked “countdown day” — 4-3-21 — to launch its new “Explore Hamilton” app that will let visitors and residents see the dining, drinking, recreation and other options that can be found locally.

As of 9 a.m. today, the new tool for finding food and fun will be announced, with users being able to choose from four categories of things to learn about: Explore Hamilton, Parks & Entertainment, Community Events and Resources.

A person can click on the “Explore Hamilton” option and then choose “Restaurants and Bars,” to see orange pins appear above an aerial view of the city. Click on the Roll on Inn Hamilton restaurant and up pops the restaurant’s website, showing meals to be eaten there, with a menu, plus an option to call the restaurant. Businesses also can post 30-second introductory videos.

Choose “Shopping” instead of restaurants, and the various retail options across the city appear.

To encourage people to use the app immediately, the chamber will give $50 gift cards from local businesses to two randomly chosen people who download it today.

Tiffany Grubb of the Chamber said she doesn’t know of a community app offering such a wealth of information.

Most counterparts simply tell where things are, but “you can’t drill down and get additional information on their business description, links to their website, their phone number, social-media platforms,” Grubb said.

Even longtime Hamilton residents will notice a number of unfamiliar stores that have been appearing as entrepreneurs prepare new businesses for the anticipated late-2021 opening of Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill, which is expected to attract 10,000 or more athletes and their families to the cities on some weekends.

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“Prior to Spooky Nook being open, we really feel like this has value to residents in our community and our surrounding neighbors,” Grubb said. “We’re hearing from our shops all the time that more and more people are coming to Hamilton to shop on Saturdays or to grab lunch or dinner, from West Chester, Loveland, Mason, Oxford, Fairfield. So we think that this is going to be a great tool for our neighboring communities in Butler County to see what we have here.

“Once Spooky Nook is here, our goal is how can we let visitors know prior to their visit to download this app so they can become familiar with the city and plan their weekend when they’re going to be here, before they even enter into Hamilton.”

There’s also information about the Downtown Outdoor Refreshment Area and a link to the Butler County Visitors Bureau.

Under parks, there’s information about the city’s Bark Park, spraygrounds, hiking and biking trails and the Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park. People also can see upcoming community events and can add them directly to their calendars.

Other parts of the app offer information about downtown parking Butler County Regional Transit Authority bus routes and other transportation options.

Chamber president and CEO Dan Bates said there are hopes to further improve the app in time.

“We’re hoping that once the city of Hamilton gets their smart transportation system (which can adapt in real time to heavy traffic), that we can connect to that, too, so visitors coming into Hamilton can see what their best route is, to get to Richards Pizza, for instance.”

There are other benefits. Among them: “We’ll be able to get data for our local businesses on how many people are using the app, and going and searching their specific business,” Grubb said.

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