GREEN TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Known for its famous fried chicken, Ron’s Roost on Race Road has a 92-year-old secret weapon in the kitchen helping to keep business thriving throughout the pandemic. Her name is Olga Larkin.
Larkin was born in 1928 and came to Cincinnati in 1952.
“I came as an immigrant,” Larkin said. “I was a server at the Hitching Post on Glenway. I met my husband there. He came in for lunch about three times a week.”
Her husband was the restaurant's eponymous Ron, who married her in 1957 and opened Ron's Roost with her in 1960. Larkin said she's been working ever since. Her eight-hour days now, she added, are mild compared to the 12-hour shifts she used to work.
“I do a lot of bookwork, I do all the ordering, I make all the schedules and check all the invoices,” Larkin said. “Then I come up here (in the kitchen) and mess around and boss people around.”
She says working is her secret to living a long life.
“For me, getting up is just absolutely necessary for my system," she said. "Besides, I have been doing this forever. If I stop, I think I would probably keel over.”
Her son, Ron Larkin Jr., says he’s amazed by how his mother can keep pushing every day.
“Most people think she’s in her late 60s, early 70s," he said. "She doesn’t look or act her age. I think it’s incredible. She lives alone. She drives. She works every day. She is one of the most independent people I have ever come across.”
These days, when Olga Larkin is not running the family empire, she’s in the kitchen learning how to use her new iPhone with employee Matthew Jacobs.
“I love working with Olga,” Jacobs said. “She makes you want to come to work and work hard every day.”
In March, when the threat of the coronavirus was newly looming, Olga and her son learned that they needed to rely on carryout orders to continue thriving.
Ron Larkin Jr. said even though he’s been concerned about his mother's age and the threat of the virus, he believes his mother Olga is “a workhorse."
"Corona is scared of her, I think," he said.