If asked to list healthy restaurants in Cincinnati, chances are Sleepy Bee Cafe is one of the first restaurants that comes to mind. If asked the most popular brunch spot in town, Sleepy Bee is probably also on that list. With a location in Oakley and Blue Ash, and a third opening later this month, it makes our hearts (and taste buds) swell that this farm to table, locally sourced restaurant has such a growing footprint in Cincinnati. I stalked them down via social media to do this feature because I just love what they are doing so much.
Meet Dr. John Hutton and Sandra Gross, the owners who conceptualized Sleepy Bee Cafe with love and purposeful intention. Their desire to eat locally sourced food, and to have a meeting space that shared that sentiment, is what drove them to take a leap of faith and open their doors back in 2013. They found a vacant building in Oakley that was “sleeping” and breathed life into it. And boy, did the community respond. I recall numerous times back when Meriden lived down the street from their Oakley location that we would literally wait HOURS to get seated (and it was always worth it). We love how their spaces are always buzzing with conversation, friendly faces, and positive energy, a direct correlation from the passion poured in by the owners and their executive chef team. Their team of pros is lead by Chef Francis Kroner who shares the same passion for quality ingredients and locally sourced products.
Sleepy Bee sources their ingredients from tri-state farms and businesses, including:
The meaning behind the buzzy name:
“It has been said by scientists, prophets, and philosophers alike that as bees go, so goes the human race.” The symbolic bee is behind everything they do. It’s more than a cute name (taken from their daughter who saw a bee resting on the underside of a flower on a cool morning and expressed that it “looked sleepy”). As poetically explained on their site, “Bees are critical to our world’s sustainability. Without them our entire ecosystem would go lopsided and many of our favorite foods would be lost forever. Bees are hard-working, community-focused, efficient, and possess a collective intelligence.” The bee theme is the weaved beautifully into everything they do: from the menu item names and ingredients, to the decor, to the community-centric atmosphere. They relish in the fact that people walk in sleepy, buzz with conversation (and great coffee), and walk out feeling nourished and recharged.
Introducing… ASTER SOCIAL SIPPERY:
With the opening of their downtown Fourth Street location comes an exciting new endeavor: Aster Social Sippery. This bar and restaurant is located just above what will be the newest Sleepy Bee location. It features intimate and group dining space and an outdoor patio that I imagine will be hopping come spring. The sophisticated sundry had their soft opening a few weeks ago, and, for the sake of the article, I “had” to go to brunch there today.
They offer a rotating aperitif and sustenance menu during the week, and brunch on the weekends. Carrying over the same sourcing ethics, their cocktail menu incorporates local ingredients: liquors, spices, in-house adaptogens and infusions. I had the hot smoked salmon with egg, lettuce and watercress tossed in a homemade chimichurri sauce piled atop a slice of Allez toast (with their "Gal in a Fur Coat" coffee cocktail to wash it down). It was amazing. And the space is seriously beautiful. I didn’t want to leave.
Stay tuned for the official opening date of the newest Sleepy Bee Cafe downtown location. In the meantime, you can visit their Oakley + Blue Ash locations, and enjoy a drink (or two) at Aster. Invite us--we’d love to join you!