Sleepy Bee Cafe

3098 Madison Rd.
Cincinnati, OH 45209

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2 stars

The Cincinnati suburb of Oakley has a vibrant night life and a large population of active young people, so it’s no surprise that a healthy breakfast place opening in the middle of the main stretch generated a lot of hype. And bee puns, which you will find none of here. Indeed, Sleepy Bee Cafe has an innovative menu that is sourced as locally as possible, and since it opened last month it’s been pretty typical to see a crowd waiting outside. Unfortunately the early reputation of the place has been tarnished online by what, in my experience, has been well-founded criticism of the service.

The main issue at the root of the restaurant’s problems seems to be a lack of training in the front. You will wait twice as long here for every step in the process. It took 15 minutes to get a table mid-morning on Saturday. There was a wait on menus. At least a half-hour wait to put in orders for some of the “signature” items that tend to be the fastest to prepare. A wait for checks. A wait for receipts. All told, it was almost an hour of waiting around for about 10 minutes of actual eating. Which gave me plenty of time to observe other tables waiting for a long time, too. Some who ordered before my party waited substantially after the fact. The dining room looked to have a capacity for about 80 and was served by about five servers and a manager so the problem wasn’t a lack of staff. It was just that nothing was being accomplished quickly. Indeed, it does take some time to acclimate a team to work a lunch rush effectively, but it’s unfortunate that a month later the spot seems not to have hit a rhythm.

Problem two: cleanliness. The concept of the restaurant is sort of minimal and the floors and bathrooms are fine, but of my party, three of the nine utensils were dirty. And I sent a glass back, too, because it had lipstick on it. As in, from the previous user. Don’t get me wrong, the three of us used nine glasses and mugs, but it blows my mind to think how a clearly dirty glass cycled into re-use, even in a place priding itself on sustainability. Four hundred restaurants into this blog, I don’t know that I’ve ever had to mention a dirty glass.

I hate to bash these things too, because the food is good when it gets to you. That over easy egg was cooked perfectly to the second; and the idea of “hive fries,” which are roasted carrots and a few kinds of potatoes, are great. I loved the goetta. The food is the real deal, but the rest of the experience is really taking away from that.

In all, a lot of potential in this place, but a lot of improvement needed, too. The restaurant’s own suggestion is to come in from 7-10 and avoid lunch entirely. For now, I would say that would be the only time you’ll want to go.
Sleepy Bee Cafe on Urbanspoon


6 thoughts on “Sleepy Bee Cafe

  1. Hi: I’m one of the Sleepy Bee owners, and appreciate the review, which seems reasonable & balanced. On one hand, I’m very glad that you enjoyed the food, as that is the core of what we hope to provide (and is delicious; there are few breakfast/lunch places with real, innovative chefs). Our first month has been a whirlwind, and speed & service have been big challenges, especially since we opened during the peak of busy season, hitting the ground running, stumbling, etc. In hindsight, maybe not the best choice. Anyway. We’ve been thrilled by the zeal and interest, and most feedback has been extremely positive, though a minority seem intent on blowing us up for reasons obscure. We take all reviews very seriously, however, and we are constantly striving to be the best we can be. As for your glass issue, we have identified the problem, which involved hot water line pressure to our dishwasher (don’t worry, the sanitary features work perfectly), which struggled with lipstick. As of this week, it has been fixed! As for speed of service, we are working with our servers on renewed training; some are making it and excellent, some not so much. This is a process, and we are confident a solid, speedy, buzzing team will evolve soon. Meanwhile, we hope that you and our neighbors will come back often and give us feedback – try it in person sometime! – participating in the process of creating a unique and special place. Thank you!

    1. I dont see how highlighting filthy glassware is akin to trying to blow up your establishments cred. Thats a pretty serious flaw and this is not the first time Ive read of the problem of soiled glasses/dinnerware at the Bee.

    2. Thanks for your thoughts, John! I sent the glass back and your server was very nice about it. I know the first few weeks for a new restaurant can be hectic. Hoping to see more from Sleepy Bee in the near future!

      1. I know it’s been a while, but I really recommend Sleepy Bee now. One of the best in the city.

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