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Serving up the Works

By Skip Tate

Scott Gordon and his wife, Jamie, were walking down the Loveland Bike Trail in suburban Cincinnati four years ago when they passed the old Loveland waterworks building. Built in 1905, the red brick structure with a belfry on top was an icon in the city beginning in the days when the steam locomotives would stop there and fill up with water. It later served as a firehouse and a public works building, although in recent years it’s just been empty.

“Remember back in high school when we used to build the homecoming floats inside there?” Scott said. “And then we would sneak around back and make out?” They laughed at the memories and kept walking. “You know,” Scott said, “that’s a cool old building. Someone ought to turn that into a restaurant.”

Someone did. And much to the surprise of both Scott and Jamie, that someone was Scott. Three years ago, Scott left his job, took out a loan and opened The Works, a brick-oven pizza place and bar that serves up more than a dozen crispy crust pizzas—including a breakfast pizza and a caramel apple dessert pizza—as well as a whole assortment of other items from toasted ravioli to “pasghetti.”

Never mind that Scott, a 1989 BSBA graduate, had no restaurant experience. Or that the research he did and numbers he crunched all said he was crazy. He’s always gone where life’s taken him. After a stellar career playing baseball at Xavier where he was an academic All-American and set seven school records for both pitching and hitting, he was scheduled to enter law school. But the Toronto Blue Jays drafted him, so he decided to try life as a minor league pitcher.

After three years and a hurt shoulder, he gave that up and, of all things, joined the Marine Corps. “I figured I could throw grenades,” he says with a laugh. He went through officer training camp, was sent to Bosnia and left five years later as a captain because, well, Jamie was tired of the military. “We had an agreement,” he says. “She said, ‘If I hate it, will you get out?’ I said OK.”

So they returned to their hometown. Jamie, who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Xavier, began teaching math at Loveland High School. Life, meanwhile, led Scott to be a supervisor at a local manufacturing plant. “I thought that would be a perfect fit for a former Marine,” he says. “I show up the first day and find out I have 100 women reporting to me. It was a sewing factory. But it worked out well. Some of those women were the toughest women you’d ever want to meet.”

Life led him to another job that was miserable but paid well—well enough, he says, to fund the start up of the restaurant. “Some things happen for a reason.” It took eight months to renovate the old building—he created the menu, built the bar and even made all of the tables. And for three years it’s been, well, a hit.

“One of the things the Marine Corps taught me,” he says, “is that it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you do it well, whether that’s being a Marine or running a restaurant.”

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