After years of globetrotting and running two businesses in San Francisco, Austin and Tony Ferrari wanted to create a place that felt like home. A place back where they grew up in Cincinnati, that felt like the warmth of Italian-American hospitality with the soul of a carefully renovated century-old home.
That's how Mom 'n 'em Coffee & Wine came to be in Cincinnati's Camp Washington neighborhood. The welcoming shop serves up coffee, pastries, a light breakfast, plus wine and snacks. The brothers now have two Mom 'n 'em Coffee & Wine locations, run Fausto at the CAC, plus Ferrari Bros, a brand that represents real estate, lifestyle, hospitality, travel, and consulting.
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.
As Food & Wine put it, Mom 'n 'em Coffee & Wine is a "hugely appealing, West Coast-chic environment on the ground level of a converted home, the energy from the shop spilling out onto the expansive side patio, all day long. A second location opens all the way across town, later this spring."
They say necessity is the mother of invention, and according to Austin, that was the case for Mom 'n 'em. “We just started with ideas of what we love and what we would love to see, and we knew that we wanted our mother to be a part of it,” he adds. “We wanted to give back to her for all of her hard work through the years raising us.”
The name for the business, as unique as it is to the rest of us, is just another saying among the Ferrari brothers. “Mom 'n 'em has been a saying in our family for years,” he says. “When we were younger, our uncle would come over and always ask jokingly, ‘how’s your mom ’n ‘em?’” It basically meant mom and everyone else. He picked up the term from 700 WLW where Gary Burbank would always ask the other radio host how mom ’n ‘em was. It just became this little saying in the family and we saw it fit for our shop.”
Coming up with a name that had a story was important to them. They wanted something that was meaningful, honest, and part of the family and culture. The unique name is just the start of the culture of the restaurant. Austin says that at Mom 'n 'em, the menu is unlike anything else you’ll find in the area.
“We have been in the industry for such a long time since we were kids, and I think that is reflected in the food we cook, the beverages we make, the wines we select, and the culture we’ve created here at the shop,” he says. “I think that we have really created a community and a culture within the cafe that is just totally different than anywhere you see, not only within the city, but the state.”
The brothers have grown their business significantly since they opened their doors, going far beyond Clifton and Northside, even seeing travelers from the deep west and eat coming in as well as visitors from New York City, California, and even Canada. “We saw travelers that were visiting family and wanted to visit our shop, and that felt so incredible,” he adds. While the growth was strong, COVID-19 made its impact and forced them to pivot, like every business around the country.
“We kept our doors open for our regulars and for our city to still come in and get out of the house during such a rough time, and we delivered or we did curbside pick-up and we just never gave up on the people who have supported us since day one,” says Austin. “During that the, we really started to see the business almost thrive and not with money, but thrive in love.”
The impact the shop has had on the community is propelling the brothers into the future, as they look to see how they can continue to grow in love with those around them. “We would like to see the business grow in a community and employee-focused manner,” says Austin. “What I mean by that is never really putting our guard down or giving up to what we believe in and what we focus on - never giving up on using the local purveyor, never giving up on using the local product, never giving up on using the local coffee, never giving up on the sustainable and biodegradable products, and never giving up on looking into the future of not only our business but the world and how we can help it.”
Some of those goals include growing the business in a way that is community orientated and showing each guest that they are just as important as the guest before and after them. They also want to maintain a commitment to quality and positively impact employees by offering benefits and eventually a 401k plan. “As a small business, those kinds of things are so tough to come across, but for us, we are working hard to hopefully build that infrastructure,” says Austin. “Last but not least we would like to see our products in local markets, so you can take Mom 'n 'em home with you. We are less focused on how many shops we have, but more focused on the quality and the way we get there.”
To help them accomplish those goals is Main Street Ventures (MSV). Mom 'n 'em was recently announced as a grant recipient and with the funding they received, they’ll be able to take their business to the next level and offer one of their most unique beverages to customers outside the store.
The drink, called Franklin’s Coconut Cold Brew, goes back more than seven years when the brothers were in San Francisco. “Franklin James Clary became a good friend of ours in San Francisco, and we would go to his house and cook dinner and go out to eat and have drinks and he would always tell us about this beverage that he wanted to make with us,” Austin explains. “Well, Franklin passed away a little over six or seven years ago and it was very quick and very sad, however, we never forgot about his mission and dream that he wanted to do with us at our cafe in San Francisco.”
With that in mind, the brothers created Franklin’s Coconut Cold Brew and quickly became a hit among customers at Mom 'n 'em. In fact, says Austin, they were frequently asked when the beverage would be available in stores. “Ever since then, it’s been in the back of our minds to get this thing bottled and shelf stable so it can be picked up and taken home,” says Austin. “This grant from Main Street Ventures is really going to help us move forward with the bottling process. We believe that this is going to make a huge difference in our business and will offer an entirely new outlet for us that is different than our shops. We can’t wait to share it with the world.”
MSV’s primary objective is to support all entrepreneurs that show potential to create jobs and positively impact the community. MSV also supports organizations that strengthen the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem. There is a specific focus on empowering female and minority founders.
To keep up with this new adventure with Mom ’n ‘em and the Ferrari brothers, check out the Mom ’n ‘em website. You can also follow Mom 'n 'em and the Ferrari Bros on Facebook and Instagram. To learn more about Main Street Ventures, visit here.