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Old 01-10-2013, 08:16 PM
 
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Aside from the aforementioned Lenhardt's, Black Forest, and Mecklenburg Gardens, I thought it may be interesting to take a brief tour of Cincinnati's German restaurants and taverns through the years.

Of course, the golden age of German public houses was in the late 19th century and centered around Over the Rhine. One of the most notable establishments was Wielert's Pavilion, established in 1873. At Wielert's, unless you specified otherwise, you were served schnitzel and German fried potatoes with your beer. Wielert's became the de facto city hall during the reign of Republican Boss George Cox, who promptly showed up at 5:00 each night to conspire with his cronies at his permanently reserved stammtisch. Between Wielert's and Central Parkway (then "The Rhine"), there were no less than 17 beer halls, all sporting Teutonic monikers. While it closed permanently during Prohibition, Wielert's still stands today at 1410 Vine, and appears to be undergoing some much needed renovations.

Grammer's, also mentioned above, was founded a year earlier in 1872. It was originally on Liberty Street, and if you've ever wondered why no buildings on the south side of Liberty face the street, it's because they were all torn down when the thoroughfare was widened. Grammer's, as a result, swung around the corner to Walnut Street, taking the original 1872 bar back with it.

By the early 1900s. some of Cincinnati's finest watering holes were German, and they had migrated south of the Rhine as Cincinnati's German culture broke free of its enclave above the canal. One was Foucar's at 429 Walnut. It featured a rathskeller and was known for giving away free roast beef sandwiches at lunch, presumably with the purchase of a malted beverage. The focal point of its richly appointed interior was local artist Frank Duveneck's racey "The Siesta." Mr. Foucar donated the painting to the art museum, and he reputedly said "that girl was too naked my for my saloon, but not too naked for high society."

First opened around 1900 on Vine Street, by 1904 the Bismarck Cafe had relocated to Walnut Street in the bottom floors of the Merchantile Building. The Bismarck Cafe was one of the most prestigious restaurants in town, and it featured separate gentleman's and ladies' dining rooms, a rathskeller, and an impressive staff of 150! The Bismarck served some of Cincinnati's favorite beers from Hauck, Lackmann, and Wiedemann Brewing, but also an import...Pabst! I have often wondered if the Bismarck Restaurant that was opened by the Komisars in Montgomery back in the '60s was meant to carry on the tradition of the original from downtown.

John Weber had a cafe at 522 Vine that later was known as Alt Heidelberg Cafe (Not to be confused with Old Vienna at 9th and Plum). It was a high class spot, and remained in business until the late 1950s when it was rebranded as the Isle of Capri. If they still served schnitzel after that, it was probably disguised as veal parm.

Cincinnati's German culture also spread up the hills. Besides the venerable Mecklenburg Gardens, where German immigrants were indoctrinated into our American political system, other beer gardens were equally popular. Two well known spots were in Walnut Hills. Schmiesing's Garden was located near Gilbert and Blair Avenues, and not far away was Rosskopf's Biergarten. On the west side, there was Metz's Wine Garden, a pastoral setting along Lick Run in Fairmount.

The Zinzinnati Cafe is a shambles today, but it once was a haven for German meatpackers in Camp Washington. It served draught Bellevue Zinzinnati Beer, and was located at the corner of Colerain and Marshall.

Forest View Gardens got its start in 1940 as a family establishment on North Bend Rd, and while we were once again at war with Germany soon after, I imagine their business was pretty good since during the war they raised their own beef and produce and largely escaped the wartime rationing restrictions. The place became known for its lively gemutlichkeit, with beer hall style benches and tables in the showroom. FVG would bring in students from CCM to perform their floor show, and Christmas was something pretty special there. I fondly remember the Bavarian-style charm of the Edelweiss Dining Room, sparkling with lights and holiday greenery.

Not quite German, but still fitting the central European theme was a little place in Hyde Park Square back in the '80s called the Cheese Celler, or the Kase Keller, as the case may be. It was a Swiss-themed fondue restaurant that predated the Melting Pot. It had a lot more cozy charm than any place that's been in that location since.

Flash forward to today and we still have a fair number of German or German-themed restaurants, and it could be the largest concentration of such establishments this side of Milwaukee. Consider the following:

Mecklenburg Gardens, Corryville
Wertheim's Gasthaus, Covington
Wunderbar!, Covington
Strassehaus, Covington
Hofbrauhaus, Newport
The Iron Skillet, Newtown
Kreimer's Bier Haus, Miamitown
Oleg's Tavern, Symmes Township
Grammer's, Downtown (when it's open)
The Wurst Bar, Mt Lookout (coming soon! I hear)
Moerlein Lager House (just enough German spezialitaten to count on this list)
Did I miss any?

So, I say, ein, zwei, zuffa! Zinzinnati! Enjoy your German culinary heritage!

Last edited by t45209; 01-10-2013 at 09:13 PM..
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Old 01-11-2013, 04:35 AM
 
Location: Cincinnati (Norwood)
3,386 posts, read 3,719,591 times
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^ Thank you for this nostalgic capsulized summary of Zincinnati's German culinary heritage, while also reminding us that it's still very much present. (As for myself, I think I'm going to venture across the river and investigate those Covington eateries!)
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Old 01-11-2013, 07:41 AM
 
Location: Cincinnati
4,007 posts, read 4,842,965 times
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Originally Posted by goyguy View Post
Not to sound skeptical especially to one whose research is so thorough - but what is your source for this welcome news?
A friend who is a Realtor, lives in the neighborhood, and is close to the business.
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Old 01-11-2013, 07:46 AM
 
Location: Mason, OH
9,259 posts, read 13,412,053 times
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t45209...

Thanks for the concise history of German eateries in Cincinnati, much appreciated.
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Old 01-11-2013, 08:42 AM
 
Location: Philaburbia
31,333 posts, read 57,560,395 times
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Originally Posted by t45209 View Post
Not quite German, but still fitting the central European theme was a little place in Hyde Park Square back in the '80s called the Cheese Celler, or the Kase Keller, as the case may be.
Oh, wow, I remember that place!

Great information; thanks!
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Old 01-12-2013, 09:22 AM
 
Location: Mason, OH
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Originally Posted by TomJones123 View Post
The family plans to keep the building and lease out the business.
Just seems to me to be a tougher way to keep a successful business there. Those retaining the building surely are expecting to make a profit on it, otherwise why retain it. Anyone leasing for a business then has to pay the building owner's profit plus make enough on the business to generate a profit for himself. There is also the issue of upgrading the atmosphere and decor. Why would I want to put money into a property owned by someone else? I know it is done all the time in commercial property but typically it is very plain jane, a few dryall partitions, some paint, and some carpet.

I feel selling the whole works would be a cleaner deal. The purchaser would know any rehab on the property is an investment in his own interest.
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Old 01-12-2013, 09:40 AM
 
Location: Cincinnati
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Originally Posted by kjbrill View Post
Just seems to me to be a tougher way to keep a successful business there.
Well, the restaurant is in good shape, has a very popular bier garden, and a rathskellar. Notwithstanding minor changes, Christy's could provide a turnkey business opportunity for someone, while letting the owner retain their business but not the day to day stress of operating one. The location is already very vibrant and is about to be more so when U-Square opens.
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Old 01-12-2013, 11:24 AM
 
864 posts, read 1,200,582 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by t45209 View Post
Mecklenburg Gardens, Corryville
Wertheim's Gasthaus, Covington
Wunderbar!, Covington
Strassehaus, Covington
Hofbrauhaus, Newport
The Iron Skillet, Newtown
Kreimer's Bier Haus, Miamitown
Oleg's Tavern, Symmes Township
Grammer's, Downtown (when it's open)
The Wurst Bar, Mt Lookout (coming soon! I hear)
Moerlein Lager House (just enough German spezialitaten to count on this list)
Did I miss any?

So, I say, ein, zwei, zuffa! Zinzinnati! Enjoy your German culinary heritage!
Vielen Dank für die Informationen. Gut gemacht!

There is also Steinkeller's in Oxford.
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Old 01-12-2013, 12:48 PM
 
Location: Cincinnati
4,007 posts, read 4,842,965 times
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Originally Posted by goyguy View Post
Not to sound skeptical especially to one whose research is so thorough - but what is your source for this welcome news?
Also, no need for research -- I was on McMillan today taking my son on a long, energy burning bike ride. I saw a green notice on Christy's front door and went to read it. Long and short of it is they will reopen as a bar in February. Not sure if there will be food, though I suspect there will be.
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Old 01-12-2013, 04:48 PM
 
Location: Mason, OH
9,259 posts, read 13,412,053 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomJones123 View Post
Also, no need for research -- I was on McMillan today taking my son on a long, energy burning bike ride. I saw a green notice on Christy's front door and went to read it. Long and short of it is they will reopen as a bar in February. Not sure if there will be food, though I suspect there will be.
That sounds like good news. At the same time I remember some remarks the bar was not all that attractive, kind of dark and dingy. Did the notice give any indication whether it would be the same or new management?
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