Mom ‘N ‘Em: the Ferrari Brothers open a third place in Cincinnati

More than 50 years ago, Fausto Ferrari staked his claim in the American dream when he opened the Fausto Ferrari Barbershop on Garfield Place downtown. Now his grand-nephews, Tony and Austin Ferrari, are writing a new chapter in that story as their own family brand — The Ferrari Bros. — introduces the new coffee shop and wine bar Mom ‘N ‘Em to Camp Washington.

 

Building a family brand far from home

The Fausto Ferrari Barbershop made it possible for Fausto to bring his brother Emilio and family to Cincinnati. Emilio joined him in his trade and they worked side-by-side in that barber shop for fifty years.


The barber shop provided the fuel for the Ferrari’s American dream, putting food on the table and the Ferrari kids through college. They were the quintessential Italian American family. In the shop, they provided a quality service and warm hospitality. They set a great example of hard work for their children and grandchildren.


Tony and Austin Ferrari were raised in Cincinnati, two (of four) children of an Italian immigrant and his American “girl next door” sweetheart. Emilio Ferrari was their grandfather.


Tony left Cincinnati after high school, paving his own way through the restaurant industry and refining his culinary skills. He studied at Johnson & Wales in Miami, traveled and trained around Europe and Asia, and then made his way to San Francisco where, in 2012, he started the Hillside Supper Club with a business partner from college.


The Hillside Supper Club, which started as a pop-up dining experience, became a brick and mortar restaurant. That’s when his brother Austin moved out to San Francisco to lend a hand managing the place. He was fresh out of high school but had a love for food, wine, and hospitality. They were the perfect business partners.


“Growing up together,” Austin explains, “it’s always been a thought that maybe one day we’d open a restaurant together … I’ve never wanted to do anything else.”


Tony and Austin worked well together, with Tony preferring to work in the background as more of the chef and CEO and Austin taking his place in the front of the house as GM and sommelier. Fifty years after their grandfather partnered with his brother, the Ferrari brothers were now in business together providing a different service with that same family hospitality.


“We’re just hard-working guys,” Tony says. “We put our heads down to the work and take things very seriously.”


Only a few short years after moving to San Francisco, Austin took the chance on his first business venture and opened Provender Coffee. He was only 22.


He says it was trial by fire for the first few years, learning the ropes of building a small business from the ground up. Even with a business degree — which he has — there are skills that can only be refined on the job, he says. After a year and a half of struggle, the business turned a corner and The Ferrari Bros. had a second notch in their entrepreneurial belt with a successful San Francisco coffee shop.

 

Feeling the nudge home

Tony and Austin Ferrari — now 32 and 26, respectively — are brimming with a “we can do this” confidence. They feel deeply invested in their work and are committed to its success. They’re not afraid to dig in deep and get their hands dirty and they’re not afraid to take chances.


A few years ago, while back in Cincinnati for a visit, Tony and Austin stumbled upon the old Fausto Ferrari Barbershop. It was now slow and unkempt in the wake of their grandfather’s recent death and Fausto’s increasing age. In a moment of reminiscent optimism, they decided they should bring it back to life. It was, after all, a big part of their family story.


In 2017, while still living in San Francisco, the brothers reopened their great-uncle’s shop in Cincinnati. Now branded as the Ferrari Barbershop and Coffee Co., it’s a really vintage charmer that has been updated for modern use. Fausto and Emilio would seem right at home among the original mint green barber stools.

 

A new job for mom and a new third place for Camp Washington

The Ferrari brothers outside of Mom 'N 'Em.
The Ferrari brothers love San Francisco but have felt a growing pride for their hometown of Cincinnati. So they recently made the big move from San Francisco back home. With their other businesses operating smoothly in their absence, they are now focused on building The Ferrari Bros. brand here.


Their new project, Mom ‘N ‘Em, is a labor of love. It’s a big investment in a city that they’ve proudly watched come into its own over the past few years. But Mom ‘N ‘Em is also a gift to their mother, Theresa, who they say deserves a fun new gig after spending so many years taking care of other people.


“[Our parents] worked hard to provide for us and put food on the table,” Tony says.


“In a way, this project is kind of dedicated to our mother, to giving back to her,” he continues. “It’s like saying, ‘Let us take care of you now.’”


The business plan for Mom ‘N ‘Em itself has changed a bit over time as the brothers ran into their fair share of zoning issues and red tape for the original idea, which involved a vintage Streamliner and coffee garden. They’ve worked closely with architect/designers Ron Novak and Daniel Ewald and their contractor Matt Max to refine the concept over time. With help and support from the Camp Washington community, the business moved into the building next door and the project took off.


Mom ‘N ‘Em will serve a coffee and pastry menu with light fare, wine, and the occasional pop-up meal or special tasting event. Its style reflects The Ferrari Bros.’ personal blend of Italian class, California cool, and Midwest hometown comfort. Their smiling mother is, literally, the business trademark image.


Though Mom ‘N ‘Em has an element of playfulness to it, Tony and Austin have designed it with the same professional seriousness as their other projects. In addition to other top-notch food and drink offerings, they will serve their own Ferrari Brothers rosé as well as a custom espresso blend by local roaster Deeper Roots.


The Ferraris love the idea of “the third place,” a spot other than home and work where people can come meet with friends and neighbors, grab a bite to eat or a glass of wine, and unwind. They hope that Mom ‘N ‘Em becomes a welcoming third place for Camp Washington residents and the surrounding community, the same way a barber shop did downtown not so long ago.


For them, this next season — leaving California, moving home, opening their shop — feels like a new, exciting chapter of the same Ferrari family story. And it’s probably just the thing Fausto and Emilio Ferrari had in mind: two brothers coming up into their own, dreaming big, working hard for what they want, and then passing the dream on to “mom and them” back home.


Mom ‘N ‘Em is at 3128 Colerain Avenue, 45225 and has a tentative opening date of mid-March 2019. Until then, customers can get a taste of their espresso and tea drinks at their pop-up shop at Wave Pool Gallery in Camp Washington. Hours are Mon.–Sat., from 8 a.m.–1 p.m. Lucky customers will catch Theresa Ferrari working behind the bar where, the brothers agree, “She can pull a mean shot of espresso.”

Read more articles by Liz McEwan.

Liz McEwan is a proud wife, mama, urbanite, musician and blogger. Follow her at The Walking Green and on twitter at @thewalkinggreen.
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