Sugar n’ Spice has opened new digs located at 1203 Sycamore Street in OTR, in an existing classic diner setting. The Mayerson Group, owner of the original location, has opened the second location after renovating the space to coordinate with the ambiance at its original Reading Road location. The original opened in 1941.
“It’s the same family-fun atmosphere that you’ll find on Reading Road—the same great food, the same ducks (more on the ducks in a minute), the same hours (7 am to 3 pm daily),” said Christopher “CT” Todd, GM at Reading Road and operating partner. “We focused on keeping the menu the same with a couple of exceptions.”
Those exceptions resulted in a modest expansion of the menu, with meal-sized salads and a trifecta of milkshakes—vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry—being the additions. Todd said the salads have been added to offer more options to the downtown lunch crowd. The salads include: creamy Caesar, featuring baby kale, romaine lettuce, parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs; and honey balsamic, with the house-made dressing over red and green leaf lettuce, iceberg lettuce, pecans, craisins and goat cheese. The milkshakes are a diner-car tradition that dates back more than a century, and since the space is classic diner, why not have milkshakes?
When you step inside the downtown location of Sugar n’ Spice, you’ll find two dining room areas. One area is a space comparable to the typical diner motif, featuring a low counter with spinning stool seats, and booths in a linear “train-car” sort of arrangement. Historically, American diners harken to the railroad era in America, when trains featured dining cars that provided meals and refreshment for passengers. Some of the first “diners” were retired dining cars from railroad lines, converted to free-standing, fixed-base eateries. Hence, the name diner. These dining-car diners proliferated throughout the Northeast, Midwest and South in this country, and spilled over into Canada as well.
Many of today’s “diners” maintain the name and a similar shape as their original cousins, but the structures are built from the ground up, instead of being converted rail cars. This being the case, the new Sugar n’ Spice location also features a second dining room, to the back, which offers booths and tables, with less of a linear feel to it. The ceiling of this room is a mural of colorful whimsey, with cartoon-style characters floating in the sky background, along with pancake stacks, waffles and eggs.
Before the coronavirus came knocking at Cincinnati’s door, the plan was to open the new Sugar n’ Spice location this past March. Those plans were derailed (pardon; unable to resist), but only delayed to July. Now that the new location is open, Adam Mayerson, speaking for the Mayerson Group, told WCPO’s Channel 9 News that the new location’s staff is taking care to protect the safety of patrons and guests. For now, counter seats are not open for use, and Plexiglas™ sheeting has been installed between booths, with every other booth in service. All staff members wear face masks, and hand sanitizer is available on every dining table for patrons’ use.
One highlight of the TV report was continuation of the rubber duck tradition of the original location. For years, patrons have been offered a rubber duck of their choice from a bin of the little guys. That tradition is carried over to the new location, with pre-sanitized ducks brought to the table for patrons to pick the ones they want to take home with them. Also, there is a duck display case behind the counter, showing off ancestral ducks from generations past.
The Mayerson Group is the latest in a continuous line of Jewish ownership that dates to 1941, when Mort Keller opened the original Sugar n’ Spice. His belief was that if you provide good food at a fair price, people will patronize your eatery. Since that day, the diner has been in the hands of Jewish ownership, and the guiding principle has been the same, according to Todd. “We offer the wispy thin pancakes, the huge, fluffy omelets, and the signature sandwiches and specials,” and that has been a winning combination for generations.
Adam Mayerson concluded his TV interview saying: “Every day, every week, new information comes in and we react to it. All we care about is making the right, smart decisions” to keep everybody safe.
See you at the new Sugar n’ Spice on Sycamore in OTR!
Sugar n’ Spice
1203 Sycamore Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202
4381 Reading Road