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5 things to know about this unique Hamilton restaurant working to recover from vandalism

Hamilton German Village Historic District is holding a fundraising event today to help Neal’s Famous BBQ, a restaurant that earlier this week had one of its two front windows smashed for the third time in the past 13 months.

Those who stop by from 5 to 8 p.m. today for the event at 202 N. Third St. are asked to contribute a $10 donation or purchase a gift certificate, then have a meal to support the business as it seeks to recover from the vandalism.

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Here are five things to know about Neal’s Famous BBQ:

1. It was started 17 years ago with very little

Owner Mike Neal first started selling sandwiches on a corner on East Avenue in 2001 with $10 in his pocket, an old grill, a packet of ribs and three loaves of bread. Neal’s Café moved from the street corner to an ice cream parlor on Ohio 4 later that year, to 802 S. Fourth St. in 2009, and then made its home on the corner of North Third and Dayton streets in 2014.

2. The restaurant became a family affair

Mike Neal’s wife, Debra Neal, ran deli cafés at Proctor & Gamble and General Electric for 15 years, so their marriage in November 2013 brought “a power team together,” he said, one that brought deli sandwiches with smoked cold cuts, homemade soups, meatloaf, chicken tacos, barbecue pizza, chili and specialty salads to Neal’s, which previously had offered mainly barbecue fare alone.

3. Location, location, location

Neal said that he worked with the Hamilton Mill to find his North Third Street location after eyeing the German Village area for about five years. In a 2014 interview with this news organization, Neal said he believed the city of Hamilton had been more focused on helping small businesses in the previous five years.

“Before, it was at a standstill,” he said. “But one of the things I like about the city of Hamilton, it never gives up. It keeps fighting and keeps striving.”

4. The restaurant’s flavor is available at area stores

Neal’s bottled sauces, already sold at area stores including Jungle Jim’s International Market and Kroger, were first manufactured in the basement of the North Third Street location but are now contracted to an outside manufacturer. Made with Neal’s secret blend of herbs and spices, the sauce aims to give any dish an extra boost of flavor. Two sauces, a Carolina Gold sauce and a special Bootlegger sauce, recently hit the market, joining the other five varieties of Neal’s All-Purpose Sauce already available.

5. Neal’s is hiring

The restaurant is looking to hire an apprentice with a passion for grilling out and a love for barbecue. If you’re a pit master in the making, stop by the restaurant to apply or call 513-737-2783.

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