Northwestern Hamilton County isn't necessarily known for its fine eating establishments. The exception has to be Les Flick's Homelike Inn.
Having had the pleasure of growing up in that part of Greater Cincinnati, I was introduced early to Flick's Inn, a delightful eating establish in the hamlet known as New Baltimore on the banks of the Great Miami River. I tell friends before I bring them there it's a "classy greasy spoon." Not quite sure if that ever really does it justice.
Now it's for sale. And you can own this gem and its nifty (and highly coveted) liquor license for a measly $1.5 million. It would totally be worth it.
If I had that laying around I'd buy the place and eat all the cheese puffs -- the yummy battered and fried cheddar cheese balls -- and drink all the Hudepohl beer on tap I could possibly stand. Ever since I was a kid my order has always been the same: cheeseburger deluxe, onion rings, a tossed salad with the best Italian dressing I've ever had and a bowl of some of the best chili I've ever had.
Hey, what can say, I'm a big eater.
But times have changed. Flick, completely distraught, died in 2000, two days after his daughter's senseless murder. Since then, the restaurant has continued to serve the same great food, but something huge was missing in the heart of New Baltimore.
It's hard to describe, but times kept changing in this little town that time let go of if not forgot altogether. Bad things just added to the downward spiral.
Fort Scott Camps, the summer camp I attended for seven summers as kid, closed in 1989 after scares from the Fernald Uranium Processing Plant pushed down enrollment. The camp was located about a half mile from Flick's Inn, and I found out later that the staff (my counselors) would spend hours late into the evening drinking local brews at the restaurant's bar and eating cheese puffs, unbeknown to us little folk sleeping in our bunks down the street.
Though the camp has been closed for 19 summers, the camp's staff would still congregate at Flick's from time to time. They'll do so one more time Sept. 13 for a "ceremonial last call."
Tom Beiting, one of my favorite counselors from back in the day, is a real estate agent now and is listing the Flick's Inn property for sale. He said Linda Flick, Les' wife who owns the place and raised her two children in the upstairs home, is just ready to move on from the business.
The new housing development down the street, called Fort Scott, is on the same piece of land -- barely recognizable now -- that was our summer camp. Isn't it funny how they always name the housing development after whatever was destroyed to make way for it?
"Linda has the only D-5 liquor license in Crosby Township," Beiting says. "And with (the) Fort Scott (development) slowly ramping up because of a slow housing market, the next owner will be sitting pretty."
I agree. Whoever buys Flick's Inn will be in a prime position to take advantage of the boom that is western Hamilton County. Gone are the days of rolling farms and lazy days fishing the river's banks.
The Crosby Township Fire Department passed a levy last November -- the first in years -- designed mostly to beef up the tiny department just before the area is expected to double its number of residents.
Whatever happens next in New Baltimore and at Flick's, I hope part of it stays true to its roots.
I've never been fond of the kind of change that makes things less personal. New Baltimore will always mean Fort Scott and Les Flick's Homelike Inn to me no matter how persistently time moves forward.
Contact Joe Wessels: firstname.lastname@example.org