“We make our syrup in house,” said Sugar ‘n Spice owner Steven Frankel. “Here’s the recipe: sugar, water, sugar, more sugar, some brown sugar, maple flavoring, sugar, and some more sugar. We cook it till it’s almost booze, then back it up.” My friend Teri ate spoonfuls of it when her whispy pancake was gone.
When I was a kid, I knew without asking that we wouldn’t eat at Sugar and Spice Restaurant. I don’t imagine I saw this restaurant that often, as we were from Finneytown and Sugar ‘n Spice was in the Paddock Hills area of Avondale.
Maybe I saw it on the way to Great Grandma Meinking’s house, or when we went on our annual trip to the Cincinnati Zoo. Perhaps when we had doctor appointments on Burnet Avenue. But how could a little girl not remember a bubble gum colored eatery that looked like it came from the pages of The Gingerbread House?
I knew my family wouldn’t eat there, mostly because we almost never ate anywhere but at our house. Boring cottage ham or meatloaf off Melmac plates. And to drink? Milk, always milk.
But sometimes Mootsie and Grandpa Gil took me out to lunch after church, usually to McIntosh’s on Reading Road or Century Inn Tavern in Woodlawn. Neither of these places was far from St. Matthew United Church of Christ, but Sugar ‘n Spice wasn’t either. It seems Sugar ‘n Spice just wasn’t a restaurant our family would frequent.
When I was a little girl, Avondale was 60% Jewish. The homes on tree-lined streets were mansions by the standards of the day. But by 1967, when I was invited for lunch by a girl in my acting class to her Avondale home near Sugar ‘n Spice, my mother was worried about driving me there, maybe because of her poor sense of direction, but maybe something else. Maybe because by then Avondale was a predominantly black neighborhood.