in partnership withLocal 12 News
salazar collage.jpg
Chef Jose Salazar, a 2001 graduate of the New York Restaurant School and owner of two local restaurants (Salazar & Mita’s), penned a love letter to the city he’s called home since Fall 2008. / Image: Gina Weathersby / Published: 12.22.16

Chef Jose Salazar's Love Letter To Cincinnati

Dear Cincinnati,

The first time I visited here, from my previous home of New York City, was October 2008, and I remember not expecting to be very impressed. Wow, was I wrong! That weekend was full of surprises. I was instantly enamored with your skyline and the abundance of divine architecture: the rows of Victorian-era homes in Columbia-Tusculum, the Parisian feel of the Italianate structures in Over-the-Rhine (even before it was the OTR we know today), the hills of Mount Adams, and your many parks. The charm and kindness of all your neighborhoods and the people living in them intrigued me, and I was straightaway ready to get to know you.

Now, eight years after that first weekend, I think upon the countless friendships and experiences you’ve given us — and it’s been a ride, for sure. We credit much of our family’s success and happiness to you, our Queen City. We’ve raised a son here, from a newborn to the exuberant, inquisitive, and compassionate child he is today. We’ve given birth to two amazing restaurants — Salazar and Mita’s — something which we’d only ever dreamed of doing and is now a reality. They are the culmination of hard work, passion, and skill; and their dedicated staff members reflect those qualities beautifully. Every day, they push harder to do all they can for the people who visit and to give joy to the community that supports what we do.

The same can be said for so many other restaurateurs, brewers, artists, designers, techies and young professionals in this rapidly evolving city. Cincinnati has a special brand of class, grit, and determination which fosters those on the cutting edge and embraces, with open arms, any who wish to be a part of its renaissance.

Recently, we completed renovations on a 146-year-old painted lady, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to own this beautiful piece of Cincinnati history. As we reflect on the last eight years, we’re excited to think about the next decade and beyond, settling in and getting to know our city even better. Thanks for all you do to make us feel welcome, Cincinnati. We are so fortunate, forever grateful, and proud to call you home. We love you!

Yours truly,



Chef José Salazar attended the New York Restaurant School, graduating in 2001. His culinary journey began in NYC, working for such acclaimed chefs as Thomas Keller at Per Se, Jean-Georges Vongerichten at his Michelin three-star namesake, and Geoffrey Zakarian at Town. José became executive chef at The Palace Restaurant at the Cincinnatian Hotel in late 2008, earning numerous accolades during his four-year stint, including Food & Wine Magazine’s 2011 award for ‘The People’s Best New Chef: Great Lakes' and a 2015 nomination for the 'James Beard Awards Best Chef: Great Lakes.'

JPS Restaurant Group was founded in 2013 by husband and wife team José and Ann Salazar. Eager to create his own culinary outpost, José developed his first namesake concept, SALAZAR, which opened in the fall of 2013 in Over-the-Rhine. José’s second restaurant, Mita’s, opened in September 2015. It’s located on the street level of the 84.51 building in Downtown Cincinnati.