A Love Letter & A Goodbye
Hi friends, family, regulars, newcomers and beyond,
We would like to start our letter to you all by a quick little story about where Fausto began, why it began, and where this place came about.
In 2017 we opened up a Barbershop in downtown Cincinnati, on Garfield place, where our great uncle Fausto once ran his shop and cut hair. We took the place over after seeing our great uncle was retired, and grandfather had passed. We kept the name exactly the same “Ferrari Barbershop”. We opened the place up, giving it new life, new paint, freshened chairs and a full on espresso bar up front, but with the thought of simply just keeping it alive. It was homage to our great uncle & grandfather, keeping their spirits and craft alive, and a first step at getting our coffee out to the city of Cincinnati while we worked behind the scenes very hard to get Mom ‘n ‘em Coffee open.
It was a random day in 2018 when we received an email from a very dear friend of ours, Randy Smith, about a very killer opportunity. Randy was, and still is, a very huge regular of ours. A black americano in the morning was his thing at the Fausto Ferrari barbershop and the conversations with our mom, Theresa, were endless. We remember very well! Thank you for your support and love Randy!
Randy sent us an email about this opportunity within the walls of the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center, and how they were looking to open a restaurant inside of their main lobby. He pointed his fingers at us, and said to the previous director of the CAC that if anyone could pull it off, it would be the Ferrari Brothers. We remember the email to this day.
My brother and I looked at each other and thought, holy shit, what an opportunity this could be. I mean, let’s start by the beautiful building designed by the wonderful female Architect Zaha Hadid. A woman that designed her first ever public piece of work in the United States, right here in Cincinnati. The fact that we are on a major corner within the city of Cincinnati, the beautiful arts that surrounds us, and how we can pay homage to the building, its architecture, and the art within and around it by serving our beautiful food. Food is art, it is our art. We are artists day in and day out, and we wanted to bring that to the CAC. We jumpstarted our conversation with the CAC on our next trip home from San Francisco, and after a few meet-ups, it was a deal. The Ferrari Brothers would open Fausto inside of the CAC come summer 2019.
Tons of work to do. What do we serve? What does the menu look like? How does it fit in the space? What kind of paper for the menu? What color linens? What kind of glassware? What kind of carafes? How is the lighting? What kind of tableware? How many staff? What are the hours? Do we serve lunch? How about brunch? Everything you could imagine, and the list could go for days.
We proceeded with our work, and the vision was to open Fausto to bring fresh, vibrant, and beautiful California style cuisine to the city of Cincinnati. California cuisine is a style of eating, just as many of us know Italian cuisine, or French cuisine. California cuisine is fresh, acid driven, olive oil, greens, herbs, fresh ingredients, fresh produce, produce grown within its season, meat from local farms. Yes, local farms, not just the local butcher, but the farm is actually within the vicinity of your area. The lamb comes from a local lamb farmer, not New Zealand. We wanted to bring what we loved and learned with our years of experience in San Francisco back to Cincinnati.
We opened June 24th, 2019, just one month after opening our baby, Mom ’n ‘em Coffee. Lots of work, and literally blood, sweat, and tears!
2019 was a beautiful year, full of learning, growth, mistakes, disasters, successes, highs and lows. From lunch service, to dinner and eventually brunch, our goal was to bring a restaurant to Cincinnati that would almost never close. A place where you could come for an app and a drink at the bar, or bring the entire family in for a birthday celebration over our famous Fausto’s roasted chicken and a beautiful bottle of Champagne. It was meant for everyone. The industry folks that needed a place to eat on Sunday and Mondays (and now Tuesdays), the younger generation that was eager to learn food, cooking, technique and dining. The older generation that wanted to pick a spot they could feel comfortable at with a bowl of soup on a rainy Wednesday with their best friend. It was for everyone. Most importantly, Fausto was supposed to provide you with food you felt good eating. You ate your lunch/dinner and left feeling perfectly full, and felt like you weren’t just weighted down by a bowl full of brown butter and salt. It was meant to be different, unique and supposed to challenge the public to take you out of your element to taste and experience something you may not have in Cincy.
We had a lot of people in Cincy, and surprisingly friends, tell us we were crazy. They told us we would never be able to pull off a restaurant inside the CAC, but we were up for the challenge.
Fausto is our great uncles name. Fausto Ferrari, he was the first of the Italian side of our family to come to America from Calabria, Italy. He came to America to help pave the way for the rest of his family to come over. He also came here so he could live what was spoken about as being the American dream. A lot of us are still looking to discover the meaning behind that today.
Fausto is also our fathers name. Our father came to America when he was young, and nestled in Cincinnati with his mom, father, brothers and sisters. Our dad grew up as a Clifton kid, knew everyone on every corner then and today. He also worked at the Maisonette for 20+ years, and the name Fausto was a homage to the both of them. In our eyes, Fausto is a name that will always ring a memory around Cincinnati, and to us it seemed fitting we name our restaurant after these two.
2020 came, and Covid completely shut us down.
I guess this is where our story changes.
Covid was a time where every person in the world faced challenges, struggles, positives, and negatives. For us, it was a blessing to have time of relief and look at ourselves at home in the mirror and breathe for a moment, but it was also a disaster to have to lay off our staff, and not know when or if we would ever be able to turn the lights on inside of a place we worked so hard to get open.
A few months passed, and within time, masks could be worn, and we were given the thumbs up to serve under strict rules and guidelines. We turned to our now Chef Phil, and asked him if he would be down to help us sell food to deliver, pick-up and safely give people through their car windows. He was absolutely down, as well as a few other team members, and so here we began, our covid kitchen.
It was endless, and tiring work sending emails, posting photos, and urging people to eat with us through this difficult time. We wanted to feed the people, and we also wanted to keep our doors open, and making money and paying bills is a huge reality in everyones lives, so we had to make this work. One-by-one, people started to call, and started to order online with us. “Please deliver the food through my car trunk, I will be out front in fifteen minutes.” It was a new world for us, we adapted as best we could. We bought all kinds of tools and supplies to make sure everyone ate well, and did so safely.
Fast forward a few months, we open our doors to the public to dine inside or on our patio. It was a major turning point, and a scary one as everyone has an opinion on what we should and should not do. I think the major key factor for us was that we didn’t want to lose, we will not keep our doors closed, because we needed to make sure people came and ate with us so we could pay our team, pay our bills and as most of us in this world, keep the lights on.
Well, fast forward to today, November 28th, 2022 we are so very sad to write you all to let you know we will sadly be closing our doors to our amazing, Faustorestaurant.
The question of why? Well, we will be quite honest with each and everyone of you.
After covid, it has been a struggle. There are so many factors in play here, but we will only mention a few.
Staffing has to be one of the hardest things any restauranteur is dealing with right now. What do you do when your dishwasher and cook don’t show up? Well, I guess you roll your sleeves up and do it yourself. Am I right? How long can you do it until you display a massive SOS sign on your forehead, walking around losing weight by the day because you haven’t eaten because you are struggling what tomorrow might bring in for sales? But, folks say if you pay more you could have more staff. That is very true, and as much as we want to pay more, that means menu prices rise. But the public doesn’t like to pay more for the food? Because they can go to Skyline and get something much cheaper, and quicker. So where does the money come from to pay for the staff? We could do circles trying to figure that one out…..
We are also in a place where we cannot control many things that surround us in our restaurant. We cant change our lighting, we cant change our entrance, we cant change the paint, we cant change the tables, we cant change the floors, we cant change the bar and so forth. People always come to us and say, “you need your own entrance,” or, “this lighting is very odd for a restaurant, do you think you will ever change it?” Well, the answer is that some things are out of our reach, and some things are just so expensive, it is hard to just even look at the bill and justify it.
We also never re-opened for dinner. It was so hard to staff up again, finding cooks for the kitchen and finding front of house staff, it is nearly impossible. Dinner was a big part of our business. It is where we sold alcohol (because nobody really drinks alcohol at lunch), and it allowed us to make more money than lunch. In the restaurant business, you have to sell booze, and if you don’t, well, you are missing out on a major margin. We get the dinner question too, and to be honest, it was just too difficult and too expensive to try to open for dinner.
Not to mention that trying to get people to come and eat dinner at night inside of the CAC was probably one of the most challenging things for Fausto. In the evening, everyone that is downtown leaves to drive back to their homes 30-40 minutes outside of the city. Those restaurants out there in the suburbs are crushing it, but the ones downtown are not, because there are no people. There are a handful that do well, but lots have a hard time. Maybe it was because we were not able to change our lights? Or maybe the $39 tasting menu was too expensive? Pretty affordable to us if you compare to some neighboring businesses. Especially for, again, the quality you are receiving.
To top it off, we as brothers, including Chef Phil, were not willing to dumb our menu down. We are not willing to sacrifice why we were here in the first place, we are not going to serve commodity products, we are not going to start selling hamburgers and fries, tacos and beyond. We will only cook and provide what we originated to do, and if that does not work, and if people do not understand that, then so be it. We fought pretty endlessly to get people in, but it hurts when you stand in a kitchen working so very hard to cook something so divine and so delicious that came from a hardworking local farmer, and you see folks walk by with Chipotle and Quiznos. It leaves you wondering in your head, what is the point of all this?
All we wanted to do was support our farms and farmers. This world is so full of garbage food, and it is sad to see it get eaten. Chemicals, pesticides, hormones, factory farmed crap is what we see in todays world, and it is causing more and more humans to become sicker and sicker by the day. Asthma, heart attacks, obesity, cancer and beyond.
We could go for days on this topic, but the truth is, the city is not ready for such change. It will take a while to wipe out the fast food and replace it with delicious food that was delivered by a farmer and cooked by a proper chef. Food that was grown with real dirt, real sun, real water and nothing else.
To top it off, a lot of folks will read this, and read the media and say, how sad. Or what a shame. But, it is sad to hear that after the fact. When the doors close is when everyone seems to enlighten their thoughts. All we can say is we wish all of those that think this way would have visited when we were open…. If only Picasso knew what his paintings were selling for today!
With all that said, Fausto will say its last goodbye on December 22nd, 2022. If you would like to make a reservation to come say a farewell to us that evening, please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
We will also have our doors open Monday - Friday, 10:30am - 2:30pm ready to see you all and hope you can all make it in to help us send a goodbye to our beautiful restaurant we are so proud of and worked so hard to open. We also would love to give a final goodbye to you.
However, it will not be the last of us. We hope that you all pay us a visit at our sister location Mom ’n ‘em; either in Camp Washington or in Madisonville. While both locations are equally amazing, our Madisonville location offers a bit more of an extensive food menu, so join us for lunch anytime. Madisonville also offers dinner (bistro) nights on Friday and Saturday, 5pm - 9pm. We hope you all are able to get out of the house sometimes to join us on an evening. We promise it will be worth it! The food is delicious, as well as the beverages.
In the end, we can say we made it three very beautiful, and crazy years. We hope you all also remember Fausto for what it served, for its ethos, and why it was here to begin with.
We love you Cincinnati, and we love all of you that have supported us. We know who you are, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
& Chef Phil Gentry