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Silver Spring House

Since 1988, Silver Spring House has been serving classic American fare to an ever-growing crowd. Partners Joe Kendall and Joe Smith explain the simple logic behind their Cincinnati institution.

If you had to describe Silver Spring House in a few words, what would they be?

It’s a family-friendly neighborhood restaurant. The feel is wide open to the outside, with palm trees everywhere. When we first opened, we seated just 40 people. Now we seat 400, so we have grown a lot.

How does the restaurant serve the neighborhood?

We grew with the neighborhood. We probably get more foot traffic than any restaurant in greater Cincinnati. Joe Smith is the face of the restaurant; he is always on the floor. Joe’s sister, Kate Edwards, has worked here for 30 years. Our general manager, Derek Taulbee, has been here for 23 years. I [Joe Kendall] ran the kitchen for 15 years and am now happy behind the scenes. We have the most loyal staff, including five or six people who have been with us for 30 years.

Our clientele started out as mainly locals—regulars who live in the neighborhood. And we still have lots of people with a house account. Now the crowd has grown way beyond the neighborhood, yet you definitely still feel like you are in an independent business when you eat here. You still feel like a local.

What are some of your signature dishes? 

The star of the menu is our Spring House Chicken. It’s a grilled, bone-in, free-range half chicken marinated in citrus and spices and served with two sides. Another popular dish is Pete’s Special, a burrito stuffed with Cajun chicken, Jack cheese and salsa. Our menu is classic American. We have burgers, fish, ribs, chops. And we offer different specials every night. We also have three separate bars offering 37 craft beers, wines, cocktails and some bourbons.

What are some of the items you typically source from Sysco?

We get almost everything from Sysco, including our produce, dry goods, seafood and most of our meats. On a day-to-day basis, we have the best delivery schedule.

They’re the best in every way. Recently, we met with a chef at Sysco to learn about new dishes, and all of our new daily specials were introduced that way. They’ve helped us design our menus, too.

We’ve been with Sysco for almost 20 years. They’ve absolutely helped us to grow.

Joe Kendall

Co-owner, Silver Spring House

How has Sysco been an integral partner in your success?

We’ve been with Sysco for almost 20 years. They’ve absolutely helped us to grow, by giving us ideas for how to attract millennials, for example. (Millennials like taking pictures of their food and sharing on social media.) They’ve been awesome. Mike Haunert, the president of Sysco Cincinnati, has been here at least once every two weeks to see how we’re doing. Our Sysco representative, Joe Lima, is on call practically 24/7. They are truly a full-service company, and we appreciate it.

What are your plans for the future?

We want to grow! In physical terms, we are landlocked. But we are always remodeling and putting money back in the restaurant. We’re always evolving. We want to keep up with the trends without losing our identity.