Is This A Cincinnati Theme Park Or A Grocery Store?
Jungle Jims International Market is a Cincinnati shopping phenomenon. Most specialty food stores do not look like this. We’re talking 300,000 square feet or 6 1/2 acres that is as much museum as it is a grocery store. In fact, Jungle Jim himself calls his place, “a theme park for foodies.”
I would suggest going in off-peak hours (during the day M-F) if possible. Weekends are jam-packed with shoppers and tourists alike. The main entrance is hard to miss as it’s adorned with many jungle (hmmm, are you sensing a theme?!) animals as you can see in the above picture.
When the kids were little, they used to enjoy going into the little theater tucked into the back corner of the Jungle.
There we would watch a movie about the history of the store. We learned that “Jungle” Jim Bonaminio, who was originally from the Cleveland area, bought the land where the store is currently situated in 1974.
It started at 4,200 square feet and has gradually expanded to megastore status.
The store is located in Fairfield, Ohio, a suburb just north of Cincinnati. Traveling along Rt. 4 you will notice a seemingly air-borne mini-tram as you approach the store. It’s a representation of a real tram that you can ride from the parking lot into the store, a restored monorail that used to be a ride at King’s Island, Cincinnati’s amusement park.
Several years ago, a strip mall was added adjacent to the main store. Rib City, Hot Shots Photography, Keva Jewelers, Buffalo Wings and Rings, Head to Toe Salon, Sears Optical, CiCi’s Pizza, Petland, Hallmark, Dr. Nguyen, DDS and Flaggs, USA are all located here. The Petland is one of our family’s absolute favorite of this group of stores. It has the best selection of puppies, kittens, gerbils and other animals of any pet store we have found in Cincinnati. When we go to Jungle Jims, our visit always includes a stop here.
The Oscar Event Center is an addition made in 2007. It is a 15,000 square foot auditorium with a stage that can be rented for gatherings of from 50 – 1,000 people. The food that is prepared for the weddings, birthdays, or wine tastings that occur here are prepared by the chefs on site.
Soooo, what is Jungle Jims like on the inside? Well, just inside the front door is a greeting station. Maps of the store are available and you will need one. Our family visits the store regularly and we still get lost.
You will also notice the BIG welcome chair. I snapped my daughter’s picture there a few years ago. The store used to have a strict no-picture taking-policy. They’ve since relaxed that rule with the advent of cell phones that take pics quickly.
Recently, a second Jungle Jims has been opened on the East side of Cincinnati. Obviously, this store is an extremely popular Cincinnati destination.
Tag along as I discover new delights at this entertaining grocery store. I promise to bring you the highlights as I encounter them.
Jungle Jim’s International Market, 4450 Eastgate S Dr, Cincinnati, OH 45245; (513) 674-6000