The line of hungry patrons queued up for a seat at Sugar n’ Spice on weekend mornings is not a recent development. The Paddock Hills diner has been amassing clientele for the past 75 years—dishing up wispy-thin pancakes and football-sized omelettes to Cincinnatians since FDR was signing new deals. Breakfast and lunch offerings mix old-hat classics like steak and eggs, corned beef hash, and basic burgers with funky iterations that draw on ethnic ingredients such as chorizo and tzatziki.
Current owner Steven Frankel, the fifth since 1941, is dedicated to preserving the menu and capitalizing on the community gem’s pastel-deco vibe. He constantly works the room offering samples (a Godsend during those 45-minute waits on Saturday mornings), delivering beverages, and handing out rubber duckies to every customer in sight. What started as a treat for kids quickly escalated when college students and grandparents began requesting them as well. Initially, he was buying about 100 ducks every week from Ace Toys in Reading; when they couldn’t keep up, Frankel applied for a vendor’s license so he could buy them direct from the manufacturer. He now passes out about 1,000 a week. Not exactly the most cost-effective gimmick, but it’s one of the many things that makes a trip to Sugar n’ Spice unique. “You can get bacon and eggs anywhere,” says Frankel. “People come here for the omelettes, the pancakes, and the insanity.”
Sugar N’ Spice, 4381 Reading Rd., Paddock Hills, (513) 242-3521, sugar-n-spice-restaurant.com Breakfast and lunch seven days.
Originally published in the March 2015 issue.
Photographs by Anna Knott.