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Four Outdoor Ice Skating Rinks to Check Out This Winter

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During a holiday season unlike any other, it’s important to hold onto the little things. This year we rounded up four different outdoor ice skating rinks for your family’s enjoyment.

Fifty West Brewing Company

From cycling to sand volleyball to running clubs to kayaking, Fifty West Brewery Company offers activities for everyone to enjoy. This winter, the brewery converted a portion of its sand volleyball courts into an ice skating rink. Visit the beer garden area for craft beers and burgers, and now hot coco for the kids. For $10 a person, the kids can skate on the ice rink for 60 minutes while you watch and cuddle up around one of the six fire pits or hangout under the heated and ventilated tents. Pricing include skate rentals.
7605 U.S. Route 50 Columbia Twp., (513) 834-8789

Summit Park

Located in Blue Ash, the Warm 98.5 Ice Rink at Summit Park is back for its fourth season. In order to comply with COVID-19 regulations, this ice rink is available by reservation only. The ice is sanitized between each session, which last for an hour and a half. It’s $6 per person or $5 per person in groups of three or more; these prices also include skate rentals.
4335 Glendale Milford Rd., Blue Ash

Fountain Square

Enjoy this Cincinnati classic in a new way this holiday season! Fountain Square will be splitting its UC Health Ice Rink for use between skaters and bumper cars. Rates will be $15 for both bumper cars and ice skating, or $10 for just ice skating, and you can register for hour-long sessions online.
520 Vine St., Downtown

Creation Museum Glice

Check out the largest synthetic Glice rink in North America at the Creation Museum in Williamstown, Kentucky. The beauty of this rink is that it functions like real ice no matter the temperature. This rink’s rates are $8 per hour-long session, which includes ice skate rentals.
1 Ark Encounter Dr., Williamstown, KY

What Did Bengals Fans Do to Deserve This Torture?

The Sword of Damocles that teetered over the Bengals franchise since the moment Joe Burrow was drafted first overall in April fell on Sunday, in the form of the catastrophic injury we all dreaded but quietly suspected was somehow inevitable. Partly because the O-line was as solid as polenta. Partly because the scheme demanded he drop back to throw it as much as any quarterback in the NFL. And partly because this is the Bengals, and rooting for this team is simply spreading your legs to make the inevitable kick in the nuts that much easier.

Maybe it’s the COVID death shroud that continues to hover over the country, but my initial thought in the wake of Burrow’s injury, after the nausea subsided, was that this was yet another year off my life where my No. 1 team of rooting interest won’t be doing anything. Morbid? Sure. That’s what being a Bengals fan does to you.

Then, as has happened so many times in my life, I went to bed and tossed and turned for hours, unable to dispel the image of Joey B.’s knee getting nuked from my mind.

I guess the good news is that such an injury isn’t nearly as concerning as it was even when Carson Palmer suffered his similar knee explosion—and the fact that Burrow wasn’t hurt at the hands of the Steelers is about the only surprising thing about this. DeShaun Watson blew out his knee as a rookie and is just fine. Carson Wentz stinks this year but his mobility and athleticism weren’t affected by his knee injury. Teddy Bridgewater and Alex Smith were on the verge of amputation, for God’s sake, and that was Smith beating the Burrow-less Bengals on Sunday while Teddy has been playing well for a couple of seasons now.

It doesn’t make anyone feel better in the moment, perhaps, but torn knee ligaments are no longer horrific injuries by NFL standards.

Meanwhile, the usual suspects raced to point fingers at anyone and everyone ever associated with the franchise. You don’t need me to re-litigate the blame game nor recount the failings of what the Bengals have done and continue to do.

Just a couple of points, however. The “Why don’t they max protect to maintain the asset?” crowd was out in force in the aftermath of Burrow going down, and there is a fair question about why head coach Zac Taylor hasn’t inherited Sean McVay’s penchant for play-action out of jumbo sets more often. But Burrow lit up college football working mainly from empty, spread sets; he’s extremely comfortable with them. Given that, and the COVID-limited pre-season time, it makes sense that the offense would be tailored around Burrow’s strengths. Quick reads and the resulting hyper-accurate throws are what make him special, and it was working—especially in the first half of the Washington game, where Burrow sliced up the WFT in that type of scheme. You can’t in good faith fault the staff for trying to maximize its chances for winning games, even at the potential expense of long-term damage to its best player. They have jobs to keep, after all.

The “We need to run it much more often” trope doesn’t pass muster particularly well, either. You know what team runs it to a fault, especially on first down, to protect its rookie quarterback? The L.A. Chargers. And that’s a big reason why their record is so bad, despite the strong play of Justin Herbert. He’s playing behind a weak, makeshift O-line and is taking a pounding, but so far he’s been able to stay in one piece. Should he suffer a horrible injury, it will be interesting to see if the Chargers coaching staff and franchise receives the same abuse.

Of course, had Joe Mixon been healthy for the Washington game or any others over the last month, certainly the Bengals would have been passing a little less. But he, too, is hurt. Lost in the Burrow hell is the fact that Cincinnati has yet another key contributor whose injury timeline runs from “He’s day to day” to “He may miss one game” to “We’re holding him out one more week to be cautious” to “Well, maybe one more” to “He’s going on IR” to “See you when we see you.” Was letting “the other Joe” run it a dozen times to kill off the Baltimore debacle several weeks ago a factor in his injury? Hard to say, but if that wasn’t protecting Burrow, I don’t know what was. And yet now both players are hurt anyway.

The glare on Burrow’s recovery will be intense, so perhaps he’ll be the exception, but the endless injuries and the seemingly worsening nature of so many of them make you wonder if anyone in the training room even has a medical or sports science background. The cavalier treatment of injured players in Cincinnati goes back decades—at least they aren’t playing on a strip of concrete painted green anymore. But this is getting absurd.

Also ridiculous is the fact that the Burrow calamity marks yet another first-round draft pick not to be able to play out a full schedule. The Curse of David Pollack has claimed multiple impact rookies. You have to go back to Kevin Zeitler in 2012 to find a first-rounder who managed to make it through all 16 games, a feat so un-Bengal-like the team let him walk rather than re-sign him. The dark cloud that hovers over this franchise spans the horizon.

So now what? The final six-pack of games have gone from must-see to must-avoid without Burrow. Ryan Finley is presumably the starting QB—or perhaps Brandon Allen, which likely won’t be any better—and Finley’s inability to play quarterback in 2019 was a great aid in allowing Cincinnati to finish with the worst record and select Burrow. Now he’ll do his best to ensure that the Bengals pick high enough in the 2021 draft to select a dominant tackle, namely Oregon’s Penei Sewell, considered a generational prospect akin to what Myles Garrett was for D-linemen when he was selected first overall by Cleveland.

The bad news is that Sewell opted out of the college season and declared for the pros, so you can’t get any joy from watching him the next few weeks and envisioning him in stripes, the way Burrow tantalized us all last winter. The good news is at least that means he can’t get hurt—at least in a game setting. I have no doubt that, considering the current fortunes in Cincinnati, Sewell will trip and fall down a flight of stairs or lop off a finger trying to grab a drone.

We will have plenty of time to assess the draft in the coming weeks, as once again the season is over before Thanksgiving. Sadly, this time the main area of assessment will be doctor’s reports and rehab progression markers. It just makes me want to vomit all over again.

Robert Weintraub heads up Bengals coverage for Cincinnati Magazine and has written for The New York Times, Grantland, Slate, Deadspin, and Football Outsiders and authored four books, including his newest, “The Divine Miss Marble” from Penguin Random House. You can follow him on Twitter at @robwein.

Overlook Lodge Pulls Off Another ‘Miracle’ With Its Christmas-Themed Transformation

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This month, Miracle, the Christmas-themed pop-up cocktail franchise that serves holiday cocktails in a festive setting, returned to Overlook Lodge, despite the pandemic.

“I think everyone has been pulling back this year,” says Jacob Treviño, owner and creator of Gorilla Cinema Presents, who runs Overlook Lodge and other entertainment favorites like Tokyo Kitty, Lonely Pine Steakhouse, and Video Archive. “But for us, it’s like, ‘No, let’s do 100% more.’ ”

During the hour-long experience, each guest receives two cocktails—with menu choices such as “Bad Santa,” “Fruitcake Flip” (made with actual fruitcake!), and “Yippie Ki Yay Mother F*cker”—and one shot.

Miracle owner Greg Boehm came up with the concept in 2014 when he paused construction on his own bar in New York City and transformed the space into a holiday-themed wonderland, complete with festive drinks and decorations for a kitschy Christmas pop-up event. The concept was so well-received that other bars and establishments contacted Boehm to see if they could host the event in their own spaces. By 2016, he’d franchised Miracle and taken it global.

Treviño says creating the decorations for Miracle usually takes about three days, but this year, when so many holiday events will be canceled or scaled-down because of the pandemic, the Gorilla Cinema team took extra care to make this one special.

They started working on decorations when the bar was closed in September. When Overlook reopened, the transformation had occurred: handmade decorations, including a cursed-looking Krampus, papered the walls and dangled from the ceiling, and more than 1,000 feet of Christmas lights had been strung throughout the space. The team also created and decorated additional panels and booths to facilitate social distancing.

Miracle runs through Dec. 27. Purchase tickets here.

Shop Small on Vine Street

Jack Wood Gallery

Photograph by Lance Adkins

More than a century before Vine Street’s current boom, this stretch of street was an entertainment mecca packed with beer gardens, breweries, and famous theaters. The Coliseum Theater, between 12th and 13th streets, featured artistic performing groups and sharpshooting shows. Anna Von Behren was tragically and famously killed there by her husband Frank Frayne during a sharpshooting act on Thanksgiving Day 1882. Today, Over-the-Rhine’s main thoroughfare offers a variety of boutiques and eateries, including these six standout spots.

Paper Wings

Photograph by Lance Adkins

Paper Wings

Carolyn and Mike Deininger opened this stationery store and local art gallery in response to a growing number of customer requests for fine paper goods at their gift boutique Mica 12/v, which is just a few doors down. Visit for artfully crafted holiday cards, a range of elevated pens and pencils, and beautiful framed prints.
1207 Vine St., (513) 421-3500, shoppaperwings.com

Ombre Gallery

Jewelry historian and Ball State University professor Jenna Shaifer spent 20 years working in the art and fashion industry before opening this rotating exhibit of contemporary jewelry crafted by artists and metalworkers from around the globe. Think modern and artistic pieces such as burnt wood–inspired brooches and bent-metal flower petal earrings.
1429 Vine St., (513) 813-7278, ombregallery.com

Jack Wood Gallery

Photograph by Lance Adkins

Jack Wood Gallery

Looking for a unique gift for your artistically inclined friend or family member? Jack Wood Gallery draws on the Queen City’s prestigious printmaking history with an incredible collection of vintage prints from the 19th and 20th centuries—from literary and world war posters to some of the most famous marketing advertisements.
1413 Vine St., (513) 909-3298, jackwoodgallery.com

Candle Lab

Photograph by Lance Adkins

Candle Lab OTR

Forget settling on a substandard scent. Candle Lab turns the traditional candle shopping experience on its head: Start with your choice of more than 120 fragrances, then pour some wax to create your very own customized candle. Start your Vine Street shopping day here so you can return later for pickup—each candle takes about 30 minutes to create and 90 minutes to cool before it’s ready to take home.
1325 Vine St., (614) 915-0777 x4, thecandlelab.com

Smith & Hannon Bookstore

During a year that’s sparked a major national awakening on racial injustice, it’s the perfect time to gift someone on your holiday list a paperback (or hard cover) from this independent seller with a focus on African American literature, previously housed in the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. You’ll also find an assortment of African clothing, wood carvings, and jewelry.
1405 Vine St., (513) 641-2700

1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab

Warm up during a frigid day of holiday shopping with a to-go pour-over coffee, frothy latte, or fresh pastry, but don’t skimp on the wine. Pick up a bottle (or four) from a large curated selection of reds, whites, sparklings, and rosés for holiday gatherings or to celebrate checking off a few items from your shopping list.
1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab, 1215 Vine St., (513) 429-5745, 1215vine.com

17 Curious Facts About Coney Island

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For almost a century, the “Coney island of the West” was the reigning Cincinnati amusement park, despite tough competition from Chester park in Spring Grove Village and the Lagoon in Ludlow, Kentucky. Now operating as a water park and concert venue, memories of the Old Coney abide.

 It Started Out As An Apple Orchard

Coney Island got its start as Parker’s Grove. In the early 1880s James Parker started to rent out his apple orchard on the banks of the Ohio River as a picnic grove, eventually adding a dining hall, dancing hall, and bowling alley.

For Many Years, ‘Coney Island’ Was Just A Nickname

In 1886, James Parker sold his apple orchard to a couple of steamboat captains who recognized the opportunity to collect a lot more fares by shipping customers upriver from Cincinnati. The park got a new name: “Ohio Grove.” The new owners advertised Ohio Grove as “The Coney Island of the West,” after the well-established Coney Island in Brooklyn. It was years later that the resort was officially named “Coney Island.” 

Why Didn’t The Brooklyn Coney Island Sue?

Didn’t Cincinnati’s amusement park steal its name from a famous New York resort? You betcha! Then why didn’t they sue? The New York Coney Island is not actually an amusement park, it’s a neighborhood. At its height, the New York Coney Island was home to three major amusement parks – Luna Park, Dreamland, and Steeplechase Park – along with a plethora of independent amusements, none of them named Coney Island. Cincinnati’s Coney Island didn’t copy from another amusement park and therefore got away with grand larceny. 

The Coney Island Run Was Bad Luck For Steamboats

Although most people remember only the Island Queen, over the years nearly 20 steamboats made the Coney Island run. The Mary Houston ran only one season before succumbing to the 1893 ice breakup; the Commonwealth rammed a towboat in 1895; the Princess was crushed when the Ohio froze over in 1917, the Morning Star burned with the original Island Queen in 1922, the Island Maid burned at Madison, Indiana, in 1932, and the second, most-remembered Island Queen exploded in Pittsburgh in 1947.

Coney’s Pleasures Were Not For Everyone

It took a concerted effort to open Coney Island’s gates to Cincinnati’s African American residents. The amusement park was totally segregated until 1955 and the Sunlite Pool and Moonlight Gardens did not admit Black people until 1961.

A Narrow Decision On Integration

In 1953, Ethel Fletcher and her three children were denied admission to Coney Island because they were Black. With the assistance of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, she sued and won. However, the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas refused to certify the case as a class action. The decision applied to Mrs. Fletcher, alone. Coney Island was required to admit her, the court ruled, but could deny admission to her children, her husband or to anyone else.

A Really, Really Big Pool

Sunlite Pool is the world’s largest recirculating swimming pool. It covers more than two acres. For many years, Sunlite Pool was filled entirely from artesian wells drilled on the property. Today that well water is supplemented by city water originating in the Ohio River. 

Coney Island Helped Inspire Disneyland

Walt Disney and his brother, Roy, visited Coney Island in June 1953 to gather ideas for the California amusement park they planned. They were impressed by owner Ed Schott, and invited him to advise on their project. At a Cincinnati news conference, Disney said Schott’s advice had been “very valuable” in making Disneyland a success. 

Rainy Birth, Rainy Death

It rained torrentially the first day Ohio Grove opened in 21 June 1886 and it rained torrentially the day Coney Island closed on 6 September 1971.

One Explosive Act

Throughout the summer of 1948, one of the attractions on Coney’s Mall was Captain Leo Simon, “The Man Who Blows Himself Up.” Capt. Simon would seal himself in a box with a lit stick of dynamite and emerge unscathed from a cloud of smoke.

Al Hirt Sets A Moonlite Gardens Record

The one-night attendance record at Moonlite Gardens was set 18 July 1964 when Al Hirt packed in 6,266 dancers. Hirt, riding on the success of his instrumental hit, “Java,” broke the previous record of 5,564 set by Ralph Marterie’s Orchestra on 25 July 1953.

A Twelve-Acre Wading Pool

Lake Como was excavated and filled in 1893, offering rides in gondolas. It took so long to fill that it was nicknamed “Colonel Brooks’ Duck Pond” by local wags. Most people could walk across Lake Como if they wanted. Completely filled the lake is only three to four feet deep, all the way across. Lake Como covers an area of 12 acres.

Ghost of the Roller Coasters

If you’ve ever felt a sort of swooping motion while enjoying a performance at Riverbend Music Center there might be a reason. The  concert pavilion sits on land that once belonged to Coney Island and was occupied by the Wildcat and the Shooting Star roller coasters.

Flood Preparation

Every autumn, as Coney Island closed for the winter, the hand-carved Grand Carousel horses were dismantled and moved to high-ground storage in the attic of Moonlite Gardens to keep them dry when the Ohio River inevitably flooded. The Grand Carousel was made by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company in 1926 and was moved to King’s Island in 1972.

Old Coney Is Haunted

There are multiple reports of a man, sometimes accompanied by a woman, gazing from the balcony at Moonlite Gardens. The man wears old-fashioned clothing. Witnesses, when shown photos of George Schott, Coney Island’s one-time owner, agree he is the man they saw. Schott died at the park from a heart attack in 1935.

Davy Crockett Killed Coney Island

In 1968, Fess Parker, the actor who portrayed both Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, announced plans to build a huge “Frontier World” amusement park in Northern Kentucky. The owners of Coney Island, landlocked and unable to expand, realized the competition would be fatal and quickly negotiated a merger with Taft Broadcasting. Plans for the “New Coney Island” at Kings Mills, Ohio, made headlines in 1969. Coney Island closed in 1971 and Kings Island opened in 1972. 

A Gigantic RV Park?

Before Taft Broadcasting reopened “Old Coney” in a limited capacity in 1976, the company gained approval from the Cincinnati City Planning Commission for a zoning change that would have allowed parking for 300 to 400 recreational vehicles and camper trailers.

Editor’s Letter, December 2020: History Has Its Eyes on You

Some of you might be thinking that the best thing about 2020 is it’s almost over. I can’t argue. It’s been a daunting, draining year of upheaval thanks to an invisible virus we still don’t know much about or have under control, and it divided us as much as brought us together.

The only comparable year in my life is 1968. I was a kid and remember watching news reports from burning cities on our black-and-white TV and seeing the nuns console a schoolmate whose brother had been killed in Vietnam. It was the year marginalized Americans—youth, communities of color, the poor—challenged the government’s lies about Vietnam and demanded a seat at the political table. Two charismatic leaders giving their movement legitimacy and hope, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, were assassinated. President Johnson, who had championed civil rights but expanded the war, decided not to run for reelection, and repulsive Richard Nixon won the White House.

There were earlier years when Americans must have felt as lost as we do now: the Great Depression of the late 1930s, the influenza pandemic in 1918–1919, the Civil War. Those times are studied in high school history classes, as is 1968, and sometimes it’s easy to forget that the people living, dying, fighting, and struggling in those times were just regular Americans doing the best they could under the circumstances.

One day high school kids will have a chapter in their U.S. history books devoted to the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020–2021 (and hopefully not ’22 or ’23). Maybe their virtual reality classroom will include this month’s Cincinnati Magazine, and they’ll learn a little about what day-to-day life was really like. As you’ll see in “Best of the City,” it wasn’t all bad. People stepped up to help each other during the pandemic, got creative to keep schools and businesses going, and found ways to distract themselves from boredom and isolation. What’s still to be written is how we carry that strength and resiliency forward into the new year.

One of Covington’s Most Recognizable Homes Is On the Market

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109 Shelby Street

If you’ve ever strolled along the Historic Licking Riverside District in Covington, you’ve probably laid eyes on this historic home on Shelby Street near the corner of Riverside Drive—its second-story porch overlooking the river. Current owner Lorrie Miller Hill and her husband decided to move from their hectic New York City lifestyle in 2018. “Where better to slow things down than the south, we thought,” Hill says. “Just across the river from family and friends in Cincinnati.” The couple moved after Hill and her daughter spotted the home on a trip to visit family. They coined their new digs The Covington River House.

Built in the mid 1800s as a carriage house for 420 Riverside, the house has been updated to now have three bedrooms and three bathrooms. “My favorite place in the house is the upstairs side porch,” Hill says. “It’s so charming and makes the house look like something you’d find in Charleston, not Covington.” She adds that they rebuilt the porch to accommodate regular time outside for coffee in the morning and cocktails at night. The actual entrance to the home is a little hidden with a charming brick porch to welcome guests. Hardwood floors throughout the home mesh well with the white walls and other elements like the working fireplace in the dining room.

The kitchen boasts sleek, hardware-less cabinets and stainless appliances. The living room features most of the same elements, but the staircase adds interesting design. “One of my favorite things are the brass panels on the staircase that came from a jewelry store in Indianapolis,” Hill says. “To compliment the panels, I added a vintage Neiman Marcus light fixture in the stairwell that looks like a piece of jewelry itself.” The panels act as bannisters in the open staircase to the second floor. Continuing the theme of clean lines, hardwood, and white walls, the master also includes an open walk-in closet and space for the bed to overlook the river. Other notable rooms include an office with another fireplace and a side porch as another spot to enjoy the scenery just off the kitchen.

The Historic Licking Riverside District is a peaceful spot in the heart of Covington. The convenience of walking everywhere—nearby restaurants, the Covington Farmers’ Market at the foot of the Roebling Bridge every Saturday—was a huge plus for Hill and her family. “We love walking to Cincinnati for sporting events, festivals, and restaurants,” she says. “Our dogs, wary of crossing the Roebling Bridge at first, are now pros—they’ve gone from country collies to city collies.”

Dora Cheng Brings a Taste of Hong Kong to Cincinnati

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Word of mouth about Cheng’s handmade wonton dumplings with homestyle Cantonese flavors spread quick. Just a month into her Findlay Kitchen pop-up, Yee Mama, her orders had doubled. Now she’s considering scaling her one-woman business but enjoying the ride in the meantime.

How did you get started with Yee Mama?

I was born and raised in Hong Kong, so I grew up eating Cantonese food. I moved to America when I was 17 and I have lived in different cities. Two years ago I moved to Cincinnati for my day job. I have always loved to cook but it’s really hard to find Cantonese food [in Cincinnati]. There are a lot of good Chinese restaurants, but they’re more Sichuan style, the northern style, but not really Cantonese style. Cantonese food is sweet and savory and it’s a balance of flavor—not too spicy. I felt that there was a gap in the market and I wanted to see if I could build a small business out of it. Right now it’s just wonton—I don’t know what’s going to happen next.

Do you have a background in food?

No, I work for UC, but I have a food blog, and sometimes I will post cooking videos and stuff. But no, it’s just something I like to do. It’s kind of like a therapy for me when I cook. I like to cook for friends and family.

What’s the difference between your wontons and the other Asian dumplings people may be familiar with?

I get this question all the time. So basically wonton is a type of dumpling. There are many types of dumplings: Chinese style, Japanese style, Korean style. The wonton wrapper is a lot more delicate—it’s thin. Wonton is a Hong Kong food. You never really pan fry them. You either boil them or [deep] fry them. They’re really light and delicate.

Where does the name Yee Mama come from?

I was thinking about branding and the name, and I think about the type of food that I crave, which is, a lot of time, homestyle cooking. I grew up and spent a lot of time with my aunt. In Cantonese you call your aunt yee ma, but because she took care of me a lot and I’m really close with her I call her yee mama—“mama” means “mom,” so I like the double meaning. My mom spent a lot of time working—she has her own career—so I like the idea of combining mom and aunt as the name. The funny thing is my Cantonese name has “yee” in it—my Cantonese name is Chiuyee Cheng. So I felt like it all came together.

When it comes to your wontons, do you use family recipes or have you come up with your own?

It’s mostly my own style. The shrimp and pork one is a traditional recipe. It’s what you would get in a lot of Hong Kong diners. But for other flavor combinations, I get the inspiration from some of the dim sum that I like—which is also a Cantonese food—and also from other Asian food that I like. I have a traditional recipe but also other variations.

How can people order your wontons?

Right now, it’s a once-a-week pop-up with preordering. The web shop goes live on Sunday at noon, so you place an order and you pick it up on Wednesday at Findlay Kitchen.

How has the business grown since you started, and where do you see it going?

I have doubled the amount I make each week [between August and September]. I think it may be because of the whole COVID thing. People want to cook at home and it’s something new to them, and it’s pretty affordable. For now it’s just me, so if I continue to expand I may have to hire more people. Even though I don’t know exactly whether I want a takeout restaurant, a restaurant, or to do wholesale, I think what I really want to do is bring the Cantonese homestyle cooking to Cincinnati. I love all the Chinese restaurants in town but it’s different from what I ate growing up. I just love that craveable flavor, like what your mom would make.

Yee Mama, 1719 Elm St. (Findlay Kitchen), Over-the-Rhine

CinSoy Foods’ Soy Sauce Adds More Flavor to the Local Condiment Landscape

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When it comes to condiments, Cincinnatians have lots of options to choose from. This year, Sam Pellerito has thrown his hat in the ring with CinSoy Foods’ locally made soy sauce.

His business idea stemmed from his history as a professional chef. With a degree from Johnson & Wales, he had the opportunity travel the world, working in different restaurant kitchens and with startup companies along the way.

Pellerito spent some time tinkering with his fermentation process and the first product on his list to create was soy sauce. At the time, he was traveling throughout Asia and tasting as many styles of soy sauce as he could find. “I would be in Hong Kong tasting all these different soy sauces and coming back home and adjusting mine,” he says. “Finally, after about two years, I decided this might be what I want to do.”

Pellerito launched his company in January but the pandemic didn’t completely stop his momentum. Despite limited hours and event cancellations, he was able to hold several tastings around town before releasing his first batch of soy sauce this summer, which sold out in a few weeks.

He uses traditional Japanese techniques that increase the “umami” (aka savoriness) of the local ingredients. And any leftovers from the fermentation process go into making a crystalized soy sauce. “If you don’t know how to marinate a steak, you can sprinkle it on there and have it completely change your meal,” he says.

Soy sauce is just the beginning for Pellerito. He’s currently expanding his lineup with tofu and miso paste, and plans to bring the products to more local retailers in the near future.

Right now, you can find CinSoy Foods’ soy sauce in various locations, including Findlay Market, Kiki, and Rooted Juicery, as well as on his website.