By Nick Dekker
Posted On: Jul 22, 2022
Opened in 2019, Mom N 'Em Coffee & Wine sits in a beautifully renovated century-old home in Cincinnati's Camp Washington neighborhood. The warm and welcoming shop serves up coffee, pastries, a light breakfast, plus wine and snacks.
It's run by Austin and Tony Ferrari, brothers who wanted to pay homage to their mother Teresa by opening a shop that would create a space for everyone to gather to enjoy good food and drink.
Thanks to the work of Austin, Tony, and mom – yes, who can often be found behind the counter – they quickly earned recognition for their work! In 2019, Food & Wine magazine ranked Mom N 'Em Coffee & Wine as #5 in their list of the "Top 100 Coffee Shops in America." Again in 2022, the Ferrari bros' shop made a repeat, being named the best coffee shop in Ohio in Food & Wine's list.
Following the success of their Camp Washington shop, the brothers opened a second Mom N 'Em location in Madisonville earlier this summer, as well as a café called Fausto in the Contemporary Art Center downtown. I chatted with Austin about their inspiration, the new shop, and their other Cincinnati culinary adventures.
Nick: What led you to opening Mom 'n 'em Coffee & Wine?
Austin: Tony and I left Cincinnati when we were super young and went to San Francisco. About 2014/15 we started throwing around the idea of doing something back home in Cincinnati. We wanted to be part of the lay of the land and give something back. We decided to do that in 2017/18; we wanted to get out of San Francisco.
We knew our idea was a cafe, and we wanted to dedicate it to our mom. The original idea was supposed to be an Airstream coffee garden. We had a whole plan drawn up, but we ran into so many troubles regarding zoning that we gave up. But we kept pushing forward and eventually we said, "Let's do it in the house, because we own the property."
Nick: What was your goal in creating the space?
Austin: It's all dedicated it our mother, because she pretty much raised us as a single parent. She's an interior painter, and we know she won't be doing that forever, so she helps out at the shop.
I'm never one to toot our own horn, but I've traveled a lot. There are a lot of shops out there where there's no story, no soul, no culture. There's no passion. Mom n' 'em has that, I feel like. Through our regulars, we've created this vibe and spirit and sense of community. We love giving something to the city, being a part of Cincinnati.
Nick: What drew you to opening the Madisonville location?
Austin: Through Covid, we didn't know what the next step was. For us, while being humble guys, we're also business guys. We know that having one shop doesn't always cut it. Customers kept asking, "When are you going to open on the east side?" They obviously wanted this, so we kept putting the feelers out.
We have a good buddy who does realty work; he said he had a space, so we walked through it and said, "This is it." We had a good feeling about it, the boxes were checked, everything just fit. We got the architect on board, started doing drawings, buying equipment. It took less than a year, it was really quick. I think two locations is enough for us; we like to keep it small and focused, and make it better each day.
Nick: What was it like being named one of the top coffee shops in the country by Food & Wine?
Austin: I met David Landsel [senior editor at Food & Wine] a couple times in San Francisco. When we met David it just matched. He came to visit our shops in San Francisco and he was blown away. He said, "You guys are awesome. We don't find people like you every day. You're consistent, you have great attitude."
He was here for opening day of Mom 'n 'em in Cincinnati. He did that Best Coffee Shops in America article, and did the day in the life piece. Then he did the "Best in Ohio." It felt so good.
For us that means a lot, it means somebody recognizes we're doing something great here. It was the best accolade that I've ever received. This is way more meaningful than cooking at the James Beard House.
Nick: What other ventures do you have around Cincinnati?
Austin: We have a café called Fausto in the Contemporary Art Center. There we do California cuisine, very seasonal, contemporary modern. We do lunch service right now.
We named it after our dad and our great uncle. Our great uncle had a barbershop downtown, called Fausto Ferrari Barbershop. He was an immigrant from Italy, the first to the States. My grandfather followed his steps. Our dad Fausto worked at the Maisonette for more than 20 years. This recognizes who he was. It's a name that has so many meanings behind it.
You can find Mom 'n 'em Coffee & Wine at their two locations: 3128 Colerain Ave., Camp Washington and 4310 Whetsel Ave., Madisonville. And check out Fausto at 44 E. Sixth St., Cincinnati.