Five years ago today Dojo Gelato opened. At the time we were among the first of the new wave of younger entrepreneurs exploring the possibilities of Findlay Market and Over-the-Rhine. A lot has happened to the area and downtown since. For example, in August of ‘09 the only place for dinner on Vine Street was Lavomatic and the future opening of the Senate had just been announced in the news. North of Fountain Square there wasn’t a family-friendly business, much less a dessert shop, to be found. How the world has turned.
Dojo is proud to have been here long before the Suits and local press saw OTR and downtown as “safe and economically viable” again. I can still recall the expressions from over half a dozen bankers during failed loan meetings—already extremely skeptical of a guy in his early 30s (a kid in business years) without any “true” business experience to his name—when they all would ask their stock question, “And where might you plan on opening your ice cream shop?” Each time I mentioned Over-the-Rhine I sensed the attitude in the room shifting from “No way is this going to happen” to “You’re truly out of your damn mind.” Now, in August 2014? Well you can even find a scoop of Corporate Raspberry Chip in OTR if you so desire. So a tip of our hat today for the Suits. Thank you for telling me I was out of my league. Thank you for telling me it couldn’t be done, that I didn’t have the experience. Your doubts further fueled my stubborn visions of starting a true small batch and handcrafted ice cream/coffee shop that creates food and drinks made by friends, not factories, for other individuals in Cincinnati wanting something unique in their daily lives.
From day one, over 1,825 days ago, you, our guests have supported my vision. You helped me to nevermind those bollocks. You have supported Dojo and our team from the starting line. The crazy odds of being successful from day one as a small business aren’t lost on me. Never. All the smiles, special requests for your favorite flavors, stories shared with my Team and me as to why Dojo is your favorite everything. It is your constant encouragement that helps to give our Team and myself the confidence to keep pushing and growing as a small local business. It’s no small task getting a business like Dojo out and breathing; to lift our ideas and efforts up to the public and provide them to you daily for your enjoyment. Thank you for your continued and ever growing support, Cincinnati.
Last and certainly not least, an enormous and misty-eyed thank you to all of Dojo’s past and present Team Members who have helped me to nurture Dojo over the last five years. Like any driven and laser-focused entrepreneur I can have my high and low moments. Thank you for your unwavering devotion and countless contributions to Dojo during these times: Molly (oompa loompa 1.0!), Avril, William, Allison, Kevin, John Z, Autumn, Rita, Sylvie, Alex, Adrienne, J, Emily, Jane, Sarah, Dory, Braydon, Erica, Adam, and Jill. Without your teamwork I’d be cursing even more than usual while trying to do it all myself and only succeeding a fraction of the time. Here’s to the next five years!
Scoop & Destroy,