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Aglamesis Is Building a Chocolate Factory in the West End

Cincinnati's iconic ice cream and candy brand keeps up with customer demand by expanding production and maintaining traditions.

by Sarah M. Mullins

From caramels and toffee to Italian ice and ice cream, Aglemesis Bro’s ice cream and candy shop has been an Oakley neighborhood staple for more than 100 years. Th e new generation of ownership is ready to expand the company footprint after planning a new chapter for years.

The business started in 1908 when Thomas and Nicholas Aglamesis moved to Cincinnati from Greece and opened their first ice cream parlor in Norwood, followed by a second location in Oakley Square clad with Tiffany light fixtures and an old-timey feel that remains today. Thomas’s son Jim took the reins eventually, opening the Montgomery store in 1970 and renovating an apartment above the Oakley store to serve as the company’s chocolate factory.

Current president Randy Young, stepson of the late Jim Aglamesis, says it was time to invest in a new space. “For the last decade, we’ve been in fear of new and large clients coming to us because we just could not fulfill their orders,” he says. “We just couldn’t take on any more.”

The company purchased a 7,000-square-foot building on Central Avenue near FC Cincinnati’s TQL Stadium before the pandemic, but original construction plans were put on hold. Work is finally scheduled to begin this fall, with hopes of opening in the winter. Young says the space will increase candy production and serve more corporate clients, especially around the holidays, with plans for a small retail storefront after the production plant is up and running. “We wanted to be close to downtown, close to business headquarters, and to stay in Cincinnati,” he says. “We’re a life-long Cincinnati company. Our products are made in Cincinnati for Cincinnati, and that’s important to us to be loyal to the city. We want to be able to grow here.”

Young says he’s also planning a rejuvenation of the timeless Oakley store in addition to the new production facility—keeping the original details but updating for the first time in 50 years without compromising what makes the location special.

Young says that despite the company’s rapid growth, larger production space, and update of the landmark Oakley shop, the process of making Aglamesis Bro’s products isn’t changing. Their old-school approach to chocolate-making remains, including using copper kettles and wooden paddles. Maintaining the business as is, Young says, keeps customers returning for gifts and the in-store experience.

“We’re not fully automated, and we do a lot of work by hand,” he says. “Th e only thing we are changing is the amount of space we’re using and where we’re going to be doing it. We want our product to be made by hand—boxes are still packed by hand and many chocolates are dipped by hand. That’s just who we are.”