The Mother-and-Daughter Duo Behind Homestyle Restaurant TiYah’s Table

ItiYah Yisrael and Jazlyn Mason call their homestyle restaurant a “blessing” and a “dream” despite the stress of launching during the pandemic.

ItiYah Yisrael recalls going out to dinner with her daughter, Jazlyn Mason, and often leaving unsatisfied. “We frequently said, We could have cooked this at home,” she says. “We were never really pleased with our meals.”

ItiYah Yisrael (left) and daughter Jazlyn Mason at TiYah’s Table in Northside.

Photograph by Jeremy Kramer

So when Dan Wells, owner of MixWells, decided to rebrand the LGBTQ-friendly Northside bar last summer, Yisrael jumped at the chance to be on the other side of the table. She met with Wells, laid out her proposed menu offerings, and the two hit it off. “We just clicked,” she says. “He loved our menu and the taste of the food.”

Shortly thereafter, TiYah’s Table set up shop next door to the bar in space that used to house the Cambodian restaurant Mahope. Specializing in homestyle dishes with a fresh, organic flair, the eatery now serves as the go-to food spot for Wells’s new beer garden and courtyard oasis Northside Gardens. “With all of the compliments I’ve gotten from folks I’ve invited to eat my cooking over the years, it just seemed like the right thing to do,” Yisrael says. “It was perfect timing and a great blessing.”

Some might say that opening a restaurant in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic is a risky move. A depressing number of establishments have closed up shop over the past 12 months, after all. But this mother-daughter duo continues to bet on their creative flair to keep customers coming.

While TiYah’s Table is her first brick-and-mortar location, Yisrael spent years catering small events and selling Sunday dinners she made at home. She often told her daughter about watching her own mother bake homemade apple pies and churning ice cream together. “I always enjoyed watching my mother create stuff,” says Mason, the restaurant’s kitchen manager. “She loved entertaining and inviting people over and would make a huge meal in just a couple hours, complete with dessert. You knew if my mom fed you, that was her way of showing love. Now we’re blessed to spread love all around this city.”

Photograph by Jeremy Kramer

Mason has been working in the food industry since she was a teenager, and says working with her mother in a restaurant setting is something she always hoped to do. “It feels great to be able to work with someone you can trust,” she says. “The best part about working with family is the accountability, being able to rely on one another.”

Mason’s husband Levi pitches in around the restaurant, doing maintenance work and helping to keep things moving in the kitchen. She says laughter takes the edge off of the stress of managing a business. “It can also be very fun at times,” she notes. “My family has a great sense of humor, which can be helpful when things get stressful.”

“I love cooking,” says ItiYah Yisrael, who left a health care career to follow her restaurant dreams. “It’s therapy for me, a sheer joy.”

Her knowledge of how to run a commercial kitchen along with Yisrael’s passion for good food and service are evident at TiYah’s Table. The pair uses local ingredients whenever possible, growing their own herbs and making their own sauces. Customer favorites include a salmon croquette burger, BBQ bourbon wings, Philly sliders, and loaded salmon fries. “I love cooking,” says Yisrael, who left a health care career to follow her restaurant dreams. “It’s therapy for me, a sheer joy.”

Warm weather in the summer and fall months allowed TiYah’s to keep serving in person while following COVID guidelines, using the Northside Gardens patio area for outdoor dining. As temperatures fell, though, outdoor seating lost much of its appeal for diners, and Yisrael and Mason—like most restaurant owners across the region—relied on carryout orders and delivery services such as DoorDash and Uber Eats to stay afloat. In December, the restaurant was one of nearly 300 dining establishments and bars to receive funding from the city as part of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s Taste of Cincinnati All Winter Long program. (Read more about the program on page 49.)

Yisrael has faith that she and her daughter will see the other side of the pandemic with their business intact. “The hardest thing has been not knowing if the governor will allow us to stay open and the many COVID-19 restrictions placed on the food industry,” she says. “But with our tenacity and endurance, nothing will stop us from continuing to live out our dream and prepare delicious bites for our beloved customers.”

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