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Rommel & Emily Wells moved from Over-the-Rhine and rehabbed a home on Historic Dayton Street in the West End. There, they raise their young children and walk their dog while running Cheapside Cafe and teaching at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. / Image: Daniel Smyth // Published: 5.15.17

One Of The Families Behind Cheapside Cafe Lives In This Rehabbed, West End Home

CITY / FAMILY: Exploring the things that transform a house, a place, and its people into a home.

Rom and Emily, along with their children and dog, moved into an old house built in the 1860s on Historic Dayton Street in the West End. After rehabbing the building and making it their own, the duo are raising their family in an awesome neighborhood known for its grand architecture and cultural diversity.

This is their story.

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Cincinnati Refined: What are your names?

Rommel Wells: Rommel (Rom), Emily, Miette, Alaister, and Helen Wells. (Plus Griselbrand, the doggo.)

CR: Tell us a little bit about your family.

RW: We live on Historic Dayton Street in the West End. We have lived in our current home for about a year. Before that we lived in an apartment on E. Liberty Street in Over-the-Rhine.

CR: What brought you to (or kept you in) Cincinnati?

RW: Proximity to family is the short answer, but we like it here.

CR: What do you do?

RW: I'm co-owner and manager of Cheapside Cafe. Emily is a full-time art historian (PhD) and assistant professor at the Art Academy of Cincinnati in Over-the-Rhine.

CR: Why did you pick your neighborhood? What do you love about living there?

RW: We really like the architecture in the West End and especially on Dayton Street. We also appreciate the diversity of the neighborhood. It is very nicely situated and close to Downtown, but it maintains a distinct neighborhood flavor. Our neighbors are also pretty great.

CR: What are some challenges of living where you do?

RW: If I had to register a complaint, it would be all the shards of broken glass everywhere, which is like navigating Scylla and Charybdis when you walk a dog.

CR: Have you done any major renovations on your home? What makes it yours?

RW: We had to do a complete renovation on our home. It was built in the 1860s and sat vacant for some time before we purchased it, so it required a good amount of care. Consequently, we were able to put a very personal stamp on it (within our budgetary constraints).

CR: Do you have a favorite park or place to hang out?

RW: During the warm months, Dyer Park is a great place for the kids. There is a splash park where a lot of other kids hang out, including a big toy, large football field, baseball diamonds, etc.

CR: Is there anything specific you hope your kids will learn from living where you do?

RW: We hope they learn a sense of community and what it means to be a neighbor to all sorts of people. And that, perhaps, time spent with family and friends is more valuable than time spent commuting. That reusing pre-existing things is often more rewarding than buying or building new ones.

CR: What changes do you hope to see in your neighborhood in the next 10 or 20 years?

RW: I hope to see economic and racial diversity maintained while seeing fewer vacant buildings and more small businesses that cater to the specific needs of the community.


To see inside the Wells' West End abode, head to the gallery at the top of the page.