Fresh, fun, and authentic — that is what Milk Bar is all about. Childhood friends and business partners Jimmy Lin and Kevin Chen have brought all of that and more to Cincinnati following the September opening of their 1,220 SF Hyde Park Plaza café.
Milk Bar features Thai-rolled ice cream, a variety of Asian-inspired bubble teas, and gourmet cereal. “We wanted to keep this as a fun hangout place with a good vibe,” Chen said. “That is why we use all fresh ingredients and have fun, creative items on the menu.”
Photo: Logan Jeffries
Bubble tea is definitely an Eastern culture thing, while ice cream and cereal concepts have already become popular here in America," Lin said. "With a wide variety of flavors across the menu and more than 40 toppings, customers have plenty of opportunities to get creative.
Milk Bar’s business model is predicated on the blending of Eastern and Western cultures, allowing customers to play with their food with unique combinations, while delivering a refined presentation of the products.
Photo: Logan Jeffries
Not only have the business partners brought a fresh, delicious look to their customers’ taste buds, but they have also brought a fresh look to the former Smoothie King space that they now occupy. The interior was completely remodeled and is highlighted by sleek, modern designs. “We wanted to go for a modern and relaxing environment that is welcome to everybody,” Chen explained. They brought the outdoor look indoors with ceramic tile on the counter, floors, and walls. A wrap-around counter has tile with a brick appearance, which contrasts nicely with the wood appearance of the tile on the floors and walls.
The owners have conducted minimal advertising thus far as they have primarily used word-of-mouth to make Milk Bar known to the nearby local communities. However, Milk Bar has already seen a plethora of positive responses from customers both in-store and online — such as perfect, 5-star Yelp reviews. “The energy is positive and we have a lot of return customers that really like us and bring their friends,” Lin stated. “People see the positive reviews on Nextdoor, Yelp, and Google, decide to check us out, and then leave more positive reviews.”
"They are exceptionally passionate about their craft," said Ryan Ertel, Regency's Senior Leasing Agent for the property. "Bubble teas with a milk cap (a rich whipped topping made from cream cheese and rock salt), cereal bowls, and of course — insanely tasty rolled ice-cream!"
Jimmy and Kevin are not resting on their laurels, though, and plan to continue to drive traffic with Milk Bar’s green initiative. They hope to make a positive impact on the community and encourage others to do the same by having cups that are reusable and ice cream, cereal, and milk containers that are recyclable.
Photo: Zach W from Yelp
“A lot of people like the idea of our reusable cups, and we want people to use them to help save the environment," Lin said. "In the future we plan to offer a discount to customers that reuse our cups over the long-term. We want to offer a promotion that benefits customers, while at the same time saving the Earth."
If the Hyde Park Plaza location sees continued success, Jimmy and Kevin hope to open another location locally in 2019.
To read a recent local Cincinanati City Beat write up on Milk Bar, click here.