Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)


April 27, 2014

Tim Preston: Vapes, frozen yogurt and burgers from New Boston: 4/25/14

ASHLAND — You’d have to have been in a well-hidden cave in recent weeks to have not noticed the number who carry different versions of e-cigarettes, or “vape” (for vapor) units.

You can count myself and my wife in that crowd, and we’re both enjoying a newfound freedom from cigarettes (partial freedom, anyway, as I haven’t been able to completely break my Camel habit). I decided to give the vape world a try after encountering one too many “go-outside-to-smoke-you-subhuman” situations, and was amazed to discover the new technology (which is smoke free and uses a simple water mist, or vapor, and concentrated flavor to simulate the burned gases produced by a cigarette) curbed my desire to smoke the real thing.

 Compared to my previous failed attempts at giving up cigarettes, the e-smoke immediately fell under suspicion as being too good to be true. After “vaping” and carrying the same pack of smokes around for a week, however, I also found extra pocket money was true, and pretty darned good at that.

Best of all, perhaps, is I can sit at my desk and puff away like a mythical steam train, enjoying the vaporized flavor of a frosted cinnamon bun, buttered rum or mango mixed with Mai Tai, blowing smoke rings and creating giant clouds of fog — without remotely annoying either of the two super-tobacco-sensitive co-workers who’ve been tolerating my smoke-smelling self for seven years. Not that they’ve noticed, but I now go out of my way to avoid the morning drive-to-work cigarette just so they don’t have to smell that clinging stench on my clothes. Of course, I can’t pretend I’m doing that for them. Truth is my own sense of smell and taste have already begun to return, and I really enjoy the pleasant scent of the laundry detergent my wife uses; pretty sure I haven’t picked up on that aroma in decades.

I commonly fish for story ideas on Facebook (where Ashland’s daily occurrences are reported and recorded instantly (if not accurately) almost as a matter of official record), and can safely report “vaporizing” is the most commonly suggested subject I find in my inbox. I’m putting research into this one, although I am anxious to hear from others who have switched rather than fight.

For the first round of discussion, I’ll ask for your opinion about the use of e-cig and vape units (which rarely create anything beyond a mild aroma that dissipates almost instantly and do not produce a lingering second-hand smoke) in restaurants and other public places. I’ve used mine practically everywhere, often prompting a “That smells delicious. What is it?” reaction from a person less than a foot or so away. I’ve used it in restaurants, bars, waiting rooms and many other public places, and have yet to encounter an “offended” person.

I’m certain that can’t be the same for everyone, as it seems evident there are many out there whose only pleasure in life comes from being offended by something.

New on Winchester

I caught wind of a new business, Custom Vape Shop, that had opened on the southern end of Winchester Avenue early last week. When I heard who the people are behind the counter, I dropped everything and made a point of dropping by before writing this week’s column.

Proprietor Rob Damron, the local guitar repair technician who I think of both as “Mr. Can-Fix-Anything” and “Mr. Does His Homework,” has enlisted a staff of knowledgeable (and getting more informed by the day) employees to help guide potential customers through a selection of some of the finest vapor-related products to be found anywhere.

The shop has hardware ranging from starter kits and components, for those who need a spare tank or battery or lanyard, in addition to replacement parts and “mechanical mods and rebuildables.” That last phrase is specifically for those who’ve taken the vape units a step further, modifying the voltage and resistance to optimize the amount of vapor produced front the e-liquid or “juice” and often creating their own vapor units or “drippers” for that purpose.

On the liquid side, the shop carries premium flavors of the Halo brand, as well as private label e-liquids, with even more flavors set to arrive at the store in the days ahead.

The shop is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call (606) 325-VAPE (8273).

New frozen yogurt  

I was playing music on the patio at Callihan’s last week and kept hearing people in the parking lot yelling things like, “What flavor did you get?”

It didn’t take long to figure out the new Seven Below Zero frozen yogurt stand right next door was open for business.

I called operator Kevin Leatherman, who said he and co-owner Steven Thompson are still waiting for their big sign, although they are already welcoming customers. The shop features 15 frozen confection flavors, including a sorbet for the lactose intolerant, with 12 “cold” toppings such as fruits and candies and 18 additional toppings (cereal, Nerds, chocolates and gummies), as well as hot sauces and whipped cream. The shop always has a no-sugar-added flavor (strawberry at the moment) and all selections are gluten free “except two,” Leatherman said.

The shop, which also makes coffee for Kyova Mall walkers, will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call (606) 585-0770.

A burger to try

Ohio resident and fellow reporter Mike James, who like many of us enjoys a good cheeseburger, asked last week if I’ve ever been to New Boston for a burger at Hickie’s. He went on to say some might describe as “just a little-hole-in-the-wall place,” although the burgers are legendary. There are no menus on the tables, he said, and servers provide a piece of “wax-paper tissue” as a place mat after guests make their selections from a big menu on the wall.

Since some of the best burgers I’ve ever had came from a place found by traveling through a hole in a wall, I was immediately interested. Reporter Ken Hart chimed in that Hickie’s, which is properly called Hickie’s Hamburger Inn, has been doing business in New Boston for many years, and he offered an endorsement for the restaurant before declaring his own plans to revisit the place.

I asked around and quickly found people get all excited about Hickie’s, citing the small (but not like White Castle’s) burgers, as well as chili and veggie soup, and the french fries with gravy. One online reviewer proclaimed Hickey’s has the second-best burgers in Ohio, second only to Crabill's Hamburgers in Urbana.

For more information about the eatery at 3800 Rhodes Ave., call (740) 456-9953.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.

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