Sitwell's Coffee House
Coffee & Espresso Restaurants
324 Ludlow Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45220
- Mon - Sun
8:00 am - 11:30 pm
Bike Parking: Yes
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Takes Reservations: No
Outdoor Seating: No
Price Range : Below Average
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The owner of Sitwells is a terrible person. She makes fun of minorities and heavy people and she tears down employees in front of customers and other workers. I have never met a woman so unpleasant and seemingly insane. I don't know how the IRS has not seized her shady books and put her in jail.
Sitwell's is a laid back european coffee shop. The coffee drinks are to die for & the local, mostly vegetarian menu is delicious. It's a place where family & friends go to meet, students go to study, & locals go to mingle & chat with other locals. They will have a drink or two, a bite to eat & relax with good people. The wonderful musicians at night are also a huge plus!
Sitwell's is a staple in the gaslight. It's brought smiles to faces for seventeen years now. They must be doing something right!
And for those whom have judged the establishment, owner, employees or service, i ask you to have an open mind. Don't bash Sitwell's because you didn't stand in a single file line & get your tall-skinny-mocha-latte with 2 pumps of vanilla in 30 seconds. Sitwell's is a coffee house, not fast food.......
I have to agree with the other reviewers. Terrible. The owner is like a walking DSM. Completely insane and very cruel to everyone--customers and employees alike. The owner also harasses pregnant women.
As for the food, good luck getting it the same day you order. The servers try, but the owner is so psychotic (literally psychotic) that she has the workers jumping every which way to the extent that they are unable to complete one task at a time. Then she yells at them for not completing tasks. Good god!
There are also rats and roaches in that dump. Don't go. Just go to one of the nicer places in Northside.
I was just there today with my son, getting a smoothie for him on our way to run some errands. I've lived in Clifton for 19 years and know Sitwells well, but I rarely go in because of these issues:
1. Nobody even noticed our presence for at least 5 minutes. We were right there, in the front, at the bar. The place was not crowded at all. The waitress was beyond stressed though, you could tell. Owner was ranting and raving to a customer, didn't notice us. Poor management.
2. Finally the stressed waitress asks if she can help us and I ask what kind of smoothies they had. She was kind enough but it was as though I asked her the question that was going to send her right over the edge for that day. She was stressed and frazzled. Again,t he place wasn't crowded, but it wasn't a friendly atmosphere at all.
3. Ordered the smoothies. In the meantime, I get the pleasure of listening to the owner complain about the people who go to La Poste (I'm one of them) being from Hyde Park, coming into her place and looking around. ""They're scared"" she said. I think the real issue is that her place is kind of dirty and they are looking at that. And there is an odor about it, can't put my finger on it but there's an unappealing odor.
4. Owner goes on to tell the same La Poste story to multiple customers, some issue about parking, and she's loud, using the ""F"" word over and over, co-mingled with other 4 letter words, loud, obnoxious, terribly un-welcoming.
5. FIFTEEN minutes later the woman working behind the bar realizes she hasn't made our smoothie. She finally makes it in less than 2 minutes. But really, it took 15 minutes to get one smoothie. She also seemed cranky and unhappy.
The owner was worried about her lease and about the landlord wanting to put something else in her space. After the experience I had today, I would welcome a clean, uplifting, enjoyable coffee house in that space. Eclectic doesn't have to mean ugly, unfriendly and a trifle dirty.
I have occassionally frequented Sitwell's over the past years for its laid back coffeehouse feel. It is very comfortable with mismatched furniture and local artist work hanging on the walls and muscians playing there. I always came more for the energy and I like the people that frequent here also.
I never thought the food or coffee was particularly spectacular, but it was a nice place to hang out. The staff was generally polite and timely and the partial self serve/seat yourself system works most of the time.
I had never even seen the owner until last night, and the behavior I witnessed was by far the most unprofessional I have seen, and I have worked with screaming Chefs.
It was busy last night so my husband and I decided to grab an Iced Mocha Java (or mocha latte) with soy and light ice- I had previously been treated very rudely by a male server because I did not use the correct terminology. I did not mind that it took a few minutes to get the drinks, there was a band setting up to play and the kitchen was obviously busy and some tension was building with the owner getting frustrated and yelling. We grabbed some straws and walked out and immediately sucked up gobs of chocolate sauce from the bottom of the drink. I was feeling quite disappointed because my glass was full of ice to the bottom and I paid $5/drink. I decided to go back in and ask if they could please remake the drinks, stir the chocolate and use light ice. I was very apologetic to the waitress and she was back to me. I then witnessed the owner yelling at the waitress that this was her fault and this was how they lose money and just going on. The waitress came out and said I am so sorry, I should have just made the drinks myself and I said you know its not a big deal, you guys are busy I understand I've worked in plenty of coffee places and restaurants to know that it happens. The drinks were then handed back over the counter (which is a health code violation, once a product passes from the kitchen if it comes back, it has to be thrown out and re made) and all that was done to fix them was that and inch of ice was spooned out, they were not topped off with more soy or even stirred. The owner was still yelling at the waitress from behind the counter and she was on the floor. We took our drinks and walked out and my husband and I looked at each other completely aghast. He said I really want to say something and I said you know I don't care because I think she deserves it. So I watched from the sidewalk as he walked in the owner was still yelling at the waitress but now they were in front of the house. As he came in the owner was saying again this is your fault and my husband said no it is not her fault, it is the fault of whoever made the drink, to which she huffed and turned to walk away and he proceeded with.. and you don't treat people like that. To which she responded o you have big balls don't you. He flicked her off, told her he would not come back and that is how you lose money and left.
This is not how a business should be run. Nor should employees and customers be treated in this manner. Especially not by the owner, who's actions and integrity sets the mood for the whole establishment.
I will not return and I would suggest you find somewhere else if you enjoy being treated with respect and value the respect of other people also.
I have been going to Sitwell's for almost six years now, & there is no place like it in the city. It's a real, European style coffeehouse like you will find on any cute little Rue de Whatever in Paris. You can get coffee drinks, beer, wine, booze, & order food off the small, eclectic menu.
The food I've had is good?I like the Briemato Sandwich on croissant, the NY egg sandwich, the Sunday-only Belgian waffle w/toppings, & the gouda-avocado melt. If you order a cognac, often Lisa (the owner) will warm it for you to release its other flavors. They offer vegan baked goods & also breads made by local bakers.
The music on the stereo is conducive to conversation & working, & many evenings the cafe features local & touring bands & singer/songwriters for your listening pleasure. I don't always love the music, but I like that there is almost always something going on at Sitwell's.
Clearly, locals appreciate what Sitwell's has to offer, too. It?s often busy, but I can either find an empty table or share one because someone invites me to sit down. I've spent afternoons there watching people move through, chatting, laughing, and sometimes shouting across tables to others. The library it aint, but then neither is that cafe in Paris that we all find so charming.
I find some of the vitriolic reviewers here to be inappropriate, dwelling far too much on their opinion of the owner & too little on the place & its menu & service. Not once in 6 years have I seen a cockroach at Sitwell's, & while it doesn't have the kind of antiseptic/streamlined ambiances of corporatized coffee places to be found everywhere, I would not say Sitwell's is dirty or unsanitary or anything else. Cluttered, maybe, but that's the aesthetic at Sitwell's. I think of it as ""Art Decoco"".
Being a 6-year patron of Sitwell's, here?s what I think to be its biggest weakness: the plain old coffee. The lattes? Love them, every bit as good as Coffee Emporium's (my favorite latte in town). The decaf is top drawer. But every time I order a house coffee I can barely drink it. I don't know why it tastes so bad to me, but it does. Since I love the lattes, I just order those, or a decaf.
The staff have always seemed friendly to me, whether or not the service is on the spot. No, the service is not always stellar. But, since it's a neighborhood kind of place, if I need something & no one comes to wait on me at my table, I just go up to the counter, ask for whatever I need, and I always get it. I did that at Paris cafes, too.
The hateful comments directed at the owner seem rather suspect to me, I have to say. Some of the ""reviewers"" seem to know a bit much about her business & relationships, enough that I wonder if at least some of them are not disgruntled former employees. I did notice for a couple of years or so that the owner seemed to be hiring people who perhaps did not have any service industry experience, and some of them never seemed to get the hang of it.
From a few things I heard here & there, it seemed that Lisa hired some people that needed a job and that she felt sorry for. If that is the case, her good deeds did not go unpunished! And as far as good deeds go, I know that for years Lisa ran a free neighborhood Thanksgiving potluck dinner at the old Sitwells, & that she also ran an ad hoc women's shelter out of her very own home. She has ""walked the walk"" in a way none of the below self-appointed judges would ever think of. Lisa is colorful & she is a voluble extrovert. Sometimes she is loud. Sometimes other people are loud, not to mention inappropriate, and they are ejected from Sitwells (as they should be). Sitwell's is a true neighborhood cultural treasure, run by people with real lives that are entwined pretty deeply with the diversity (& funkiness, with emphasis on _funk_) of the Cincinnati community. This is why this place is still going so strong after so many years. I say long live Sitwell's, plain & simple.
Not only was the establishment crawling with cockroaches ( saw two crawling on the wall during my most recent visit), but the owner seemed to be the biggest pest of all. This woman is clearly a crazy b***h. I used to frequent this place for coffee while I was at school during the day until i settled on the fact that this woman is out of her mind. In the past year I have seen her mistreat so many fine employees that I'm sickened by the sound of her voice. Now i realize that there is temptation to be unkind to new employees when they are simply not working out but I have also seen some outstanding employees with increadible work ethic end up on her bad side. One of her longer standing employees i have seen training countless of the new hires. Still some how every time the manager comes across i'm forced to listen to this a$$hole insulting the poor girls intelligence and schooling. This woman is uncomparable in the way she treats people. It seems that every day she walks into her coffee shop she picks one of her employees to torture relentlessly. I've seen her make one of her employees cry once before and then told the girl to ""go to the back she was making a scene"". I witnessed her curse out the previous manager, her daughter, until she quit on the spot. She yells at servers while they are assisting customers. In the back of my head I've always thought that if working there was constantly as bad as it seemed that the employees could simply quit, but i realize it is the luck of the draw with this woman. I have seen the owner act like a normal human from time to time, however it is like a switch in her head. The woman clearly has some undiognosed mental disorder and will agree with that should you mention it to her, but simply does not care. My latest visit made me realize that she sometimes shows the same cold heart to her customers, the people keeping her in business. As i was at the to go counter waiting for my coffee another customer walked through the door. The owner asked the man to leave saying ""bye bye now we don't have anything"" , after he left she turned to one of her employees and said "" he's a stupid f***ing junkie"". I would like to say for the record that I have sat at sitwells numerous times and seen this man often come in to purchase coffee and he was most definatly not a junkie or in anyway a harm to the community. I then decided I would prefer takilng my business somewhere employees and customers are treated with respect.
have been a Sitwells Regular off and on for the past 11 years. The stuff that I have heard and seen for those 11 years makes me grateful for the people who are willing to live the American Dream. Sometimes people need to get the whole story. The owner has been through a lot. People need to realize that and just chill. Would you rather go to Starbucks? HUH? Every time I have been, it has been a great experience. You have to have walked in her shoes. She has put up with an uncertain future, difficult time in keeping employees, personal things. SHE IS HUMAN for CHRIST's SAKE!! I would like to see everyone who has badmouthed this place to run this place for a year. I am willing to bet a million, that y'all would not make it past 2 let alone six months. I would definately reccomend this place. It is a cool place to hang out and forget about your troubles for a while
Sitwell's won my gratitude when it went smoke-free a full year ahead of the rest of the city. It since has won my loyalty because of its fresh food, relaxed atmosphere and boho charm. A great place to read, hold study group meetings, have lunch with the kids, meet friends after the movies, or run into your neighbors. No matter how long I linger over coffee, the staff never tries to hustle me off. If you need something bright, crisp and buttoned up, Sitwell's may not be for you. But if you want a welcoming place with personality, come in and ""set a spell.""
After reading plenty of the reviews on here, I would like rant my own opinions that differ considerably from the negative reviews.
Firstly, what is terrible about the food? The house-made guacamole is amazing, especially as part of a gouda and guac sandwich. I would also recommend the briemato sandwich (tomatoes and brie cheese on a croissant). All the ingredients are purchased from Findlay Market and other local vendors: Shadeau Breads, Marx Bagels, etc...
Secondly, Sitwell's is not a speedy restaurant. Don't go there expecting a waiter/waitress that will seat you, cater to your every request, etc... I would say 80% of the clientele, myself included, stays for over an hour per visit. This is not fast food, nor is it even a restaurant, really. It is much more of a coffeeshop and place to relax. There is only one server for all the tables, but this only becomes an issue if you go there for the lunch rush or during a busy evening. And even during those times, the good servers provide speedy service. If the bodacious duo of Andy and Molly McGrath are working, be prepared for an excellent experience.
Thirdly, Lisa the owner is usually friendly to those who want to chat with her. And she is an ardent supporter of the Clifton neighborhood and everyone here.
Lastly, Sitwell's is a community asset. You don't stay in business for 10 years without doing something right.
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