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Story #82Aglamesis BrothersCincinnati, OH

It’s sincere; it’s authentic; it’s not political or self-serving. It’s a special place, and you can feel that.

Every morning, Dianne Lytle starts her day with a scoop of mocha chip ice cream in her coffee. It’s a fitting tradition for the third-generation owner of Aglamesis Brothers, which has been serving up hand-churned ice cream and candy to eastside Cincinnati since 1908. The small business was founded by Lytle’s grandfather, Thomas Aglamesis, and his brother, Nicholas, who won over Cincinnati residents with their honest, sincere attitude and ice cream made with only the best natural ingredients.

The Aglamesis Brothers parlor in Oakley Square first opened its doors in 1913 and remains largely unchanged today – a living embodiment of what the small business stands for. The original hand-laid tile floor, old-fashioned tin ceiling, and 1920s Tiffany lamps remind customers of a time when gathering with family or friends at the local ice cream shop was a tradition worth holding on to.

The struggle for Aglamesis Brothers is finding a balance between growth in the business and maintaining the authenticity of their two shops. “Being in that place where we don’t have the infrastructure of a big company, but have a pretty large following, can be very challenging and exhausting,” says Lytle. Adding to the challenge is the fact that their business, and therefore jobs, is seasonal. Dianne’s brother Randal, also a co-owner, handles manufacturing and wholesale accounts while Dianne handles the retail, marketing, and accounting sides of the business. “We all wear whatever hat we need to at any given time and do the best we can,” she says.

Lytle’s father, James T. Aglamesis, took over the family business in the 1950’s and is still acting president. But, “95 percent of the time you’ll find him behind the ice cream fountain talking with customers, because that’s his heart and soul.” The family hopes to never lose those personal connections and sense of community, while also finding a way to accommodate the growth of their small business. For Lytle, hearing customers share memories of times they’ve spent at Aglamesis Brothers is what makes her happiest, and she hopes to continue that for another century.

“There’s not a word to describe how that makes you feel or how important that is. We’ve touched a lot of people here, and we’re blessed by that.”


Photos by Shaul Schwarz

  • The three owners of Aglamesis Brothers - Dianne Lytle, her father James T. Aglamesis, and her half-brother Randal Young. Dianne handles retail sales, marketing, and accounting, while Randal handles manufacturing and wholesale accounts. James T. Aglamesis is the acting president, but “95 percent of the time you’ll find him behind the ice cream fountain talking with customers.”

  • Dianne Lytle, a third-generation owner of Aglamesis Brothers and daughter of James T. Aglamesis. Lytle worked in a number of Fortune 500 companies before deciding to return to the family business, saying, “I just saw so many more positive family values here.”

  • Norman Riggs Jr. working in the front at Aglamesis Brothers ice cream and candy shop. Riggs and his crew hand-pack every pint of ice cream that Aglamesis Brothers sells in their Oakley store as well as all products purchased by their wholesale customers that vary in size from small specialty food shops such as Wyoming Pastry to large national grocery chains like Kroger.

  • Hannah Donovan working in the restaurant section of Aglamesis Brothers.

  • Darryl Hogan makes a fresh batch of ice cream in the back at Aglamesis Brothers.

  • Lisa Thatcher holds a batch of candy-in-the-making. She has worked at Aglamesis Brothers for 37 years - since she was 15 years old.

  • Candies dipped in chocolate, made by Lisa Thatcher of Aglamesis Brothers.

  • Darryl Hogan, one of the ice cream makers at Aglamesis Brothers. “People are here because they’re proud of the product,” says owner Dianne Lytle. “They enjoy the customers. It’s a personal, family environment.”

  • Aglamesis Brothers originally started out making only ice cream, but due to the seasonality of the product, they started offering handmade gourmet chocolates as well.

  • Customers enjoying their ice cream at the counter at Aglamesis Brothers. Owner Dianne Lytle says that not a day goes by without a customer sharing a special memory involving the ice cream parlor.

  • Serving up some ice cream with fresh fruit toppings at Aglamesis Brothers.

  • One of the original 1920s Tiffany lamps adds to the vintage ambiance at Aglamesis Brothers.

  • Freshly made ice cream at Aglamesis Brothers. The ice cream is made using the same recipes as it was in the early 1900s using only the best ingredients and no preservatives. Melted chocolate (also used to make the candy) is poured into the cold ice cream where it solidifies and breaks up into delicious chunks of chocolate for their various “chip” flavors.

  • Troy Vaughn has been making ice cream at Aglamesis Brothers for 25 years and knows how to make 40 flavors. For the owners of Aglamesis Brothers, celebrating milestones in employee careers are some of the happiest moments as small business owners.

  • James T. Aglamesis has been the acting president of Aglamesis Brothers since the 1950s, and his daughter says he’ll never retire. “This is what keeps him going. This is where he gets his energy. Like in Gone with the Wind with Scarlett O’Hara and the red earth of Tara, the marble fountain of Aglamesis Brothers is the same thing for him.”

  • Hannah Donovan, working in the restaurant section of Aglamesis Brothers.

  • A photo of the Aglamesis Brothers parlor in Oakley Square, which has changed very little since opening in 1913. The parlor still has the same hand-laid tile floor, old-fashioned tin ceiling, marble fountain, and Tiffany lamps.

  • James T. Aglamesis, president of Aglamesis Brothers in Cincinnati, Ohio. His father, Thomas Aglamesis, founded the company with his brother Nicholas in 1908. James T. Aglamesis was born into the family business, working there as a child and living above the shop for 20 years.

Business Details

Proprietor: Dianne Lytle
3046 Madison Rd. Cincinnati, OH 45209
PH: 513-531-5196 / Website
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