WCPO.com’s Our Forgotten Neighborhoods series interviewed members of San Antonio Church. Check out the video and hear their stories. Jo Ann Metz
An excerpt from the interview with Terrie Evans:
We have a little church in South Fairmount to thank for the birth of that staple of Cincinnati dining, LaRosa’s.
In the 1920s, ‘30s and’40s, the summer festival of San Antonio Church on Queen City Avenue was where the “ladies of the lot” made and sold what was then a unique and exotic dish – Italian pan pizza. Buddy LaRosa made pizzas for the festival along with his grandmother Josephine and his Aunt Dena. People came from all over to try it.
Using the family’s festival recipe and some borrowed money, Buddy and partners started Papa Gino’s pizza, which evolved into LaRosa’s, today a franchise of 64 restaurants around the region.
The church still survives today, thanks to its faithful congregation. Faced with closure about 10 years ago, the members raised money to keep it alive. “There’s a lot of people who are really dedicated to keeping that church going,” said Buddy’s sister and loyal church worker, Terrie Evans.
San Antonio is now technically part of Holy Family parish in East Price Hill, but still holds a 9 a.m. Mass on Sundays with a rotation of priests. San Antonio counts on about a hundred members to keep this little church in the heart of the neighborhood alive. “I think it’s inborn in us,” Evans said. “We just work to keep it going.”