The Founder of Mio’s
The Man Behind the Curtain of a Family Business
Names like Buddy Larosa, John Schnatter of Papa Johns, Tom Monaghan of Domino’s, and other men resonate as leaders and innovators in the pizza business. But what of Mios, “Your Neighborhood Pizzeria”? Mio’s has a wonderful tale to tell, but few have heard it. It is high time people heard about the man behind the curtain.
Mio’s Pizzeria was founded in Hyde Park in 1975 by my father, Ray Spurlock. He was raised in Cincinnati to a hard working, blue-collar family and had meager means. Ray’s truly tireless work ethic allowed him to work from open to close every day, propelling his small pizzeria forward by the sweat of his brow. The quality of his work was apparent as Mio’s grew from one small location in Hyde Park, to eight locations all around Cincinnati. After hearing his customers endlessly say, “I just love Mio’s,” Ray knew that Cincinnati had a love affair with Mio’s pizza. The saying “I Just Love Mio’s” has been on our pizza boxes ever since and the concept of love will forever be a huge part of the ethos of our company.
Ray’s innate culinary skill produced the wonder of Mio’s proprietary pizza dough, pizza sauce, and our special blends of pizza, basil, and spinach cheeses. His other proprietary recipes include our House Creamy Garlic and Italian dressings, our homemade tuna, French Onion soup, and our fresh hoagie buns and bread sticks. Ray pioneered the incredibly unique taste that is still Mio’s today.
Throughout the years, Ray introduced many unique features into the Cincinnati pizza market. Mio’s was the first local pizzeria to add home delivery, add children’s coloring contests and children’s own “Make-and-Bake” nights each week, and the first to add deep dish pizza and stuffed pizza; all such innovations are still in existence and doing well today. Mio’s has been honored and awarded both locally and nationally for our quality and inventiveness. Ray retired in 2001 but after a 14 year absence, he’s back as the owner of Mio’s in Mariemont and he is working closely with current Mio’s CEO, Allen Harless, to make improvements in the company.
Ray took over Mio’s in Mariemont on October 1st from the owner of 14 years, Jim Shaner. To add a sad turn to the tale, Jim passed away on October 13th of a heart attack. He is remembered fondly by all of his family, friends, staff, and following of loyal customers.
Mio’s is in my family’s blood. My father, Ray, met my mother, Jennifer McDuffie, at Mio’s in 1980. A wonderful match, my parents have raised a great family and built a wonderful business. If you come into the store, you’ll see my father laughing and joking with customers as he hosts in the dining room on Friday nights and you’ll see my mother working in the dining room during most lunches, smiling and treating every customer as dearly as she treats our own family (as that is the only way she knows how to treat people).
Since taking over the Mariemont location, my dad, ever the creative culinary genius, and some of the staff, have planned a number of exciting new original crust pizzas, a completely new line of delicious and decadent deep dish pizza, updated salads, new appetizers, and an expanded line of craft beers. The store has new ovens, heating, doors, a renovated and redecorated dining room (in progress), and an expanding kitchen in order to better serve the community with dine-in, carryout, and delivery. My father, mother, and I are committed to truly being your family-owned and operated neighborhood pizzeria.
We are so excited to be a part of the Mariemont community again. If you have enjoyed this article and/or you are a Mio’s lover, please come in and introduce yourself. We are always here and we would be thrilled to make your acquaintance.