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Break on Through to the Other Side

Will Cincinnati's East/West rivalry ever cool down?

By Jac Kern · September 15th, 2010 · News
Cincinnati keeps it old school when it comes to traditions. From our love of pork by-products and church festivals to the way we talk (I will never cease to say "please?" when I really mean "huh?"), we tend to hang on to our quirky customs. And when it comes to enduring attitudes, the East side/West side rivalry takes the cake.

Sure, both sides of town have progressed a lot over the years, and there are plenty of Cincinnatians who don't fit in either category. But everyone knows an Eastsider who goes to way too many wine tastings and a Westsider who really needs to retire his softball glove. And the fact is, they probably wouldn't like each other very much. It's hard to say whether these two would have anything in common because true homegrown Eastsiders and Westsiders rarely leave their respective enclaves.

So we searched for the quintessential Westsider and Eastsider to settle this debate. After careful deliberation, we focused on a prominent business owner from each side. Representing the East is Mike Larkin, owner of Salem Gardens (6396 Salem Road, Anderson Twp.), which has been serving up award-winning wings and burgers since 1926.

From the West Side is Matt Huesman, who owns Maury's Tiny Cove (3908 Harrison Ave., Cheviot). The self-proclaimed "old-school steakhouse" opened in 1949 and offers tons of carnivorous delights like filets, ribs and pork chops.

Both men run family-friendly establishments where you can also get your drink on. Could they have anything else in common?

CityBeat: What area of Cincinnati do you call your hometown?
Matt Huesman:
The West side, in Delhi.
Mike Larkin:
Anderson.

CB: Was there an event or person that planted the seed of your East/West pride?
MH:
No one in particular, I was just born into it over here.
ML:
My dad planted the seed in my mom in Mount Washington.

That’s where I grew up.

CB: Now, the classic Cincinnati question: Where did you go to high school (where true rivalries begin)?
MH:
St. Xavier.
ML:
McNicholas.

CB: What is your favorite bar or restaurant on your side (besides your own)?
MH:
I have one of each. My favorite bar is Roswell's on Glenmore (3775 Glenmore Ave., Cheviot). My favorite restaurant would be Plaza Mexico on Delhi (4990 Delhi Pike, Delhi Township).
ML:
The Blind Lemon (936 Hatch St., Mount Adams) and Montgomery Inn (9440 Montgomery Road, Montgomery). I worked at both.

CB: Can you tell when someone from the other side comes into your restaurant?
MH:
I usually can't tell, but a lot of times they'll indicate they came all the way from the East Side — like it's another country!
ML:
No!

CB: What is your favorite aspect of your side of town and the people there?
MH:
I love the sense of community over here. Everybody takes pride in being from the West Side.If from here, you're welcome here, but I guess some people are kind of closed to idea of welcoming outsiders.
ML:
I love the river views, the parks and the friendly people.

CB: What's the worst aspect of the other side?
MH:
The traffic.
ML:
The Western Hills Viaduct.

CB: How would you sum up your side's philosophy?
MH:
Westsiders really stick together.
ML:
Fun loving, free and easy.

CB: What's your favorite tradition from your side?
MH:
It's new for me, but the Harvest Home Parade.
ML:
Watching my daughters march in the (Anderson) Fourth of July parade in our cheeseburger costumes.

CB: Eastsiders and Westsiders are far from the only rivals in Cincinnati. XU or UC?
MH:
UC, my alma mater.
ML:
UC is my alma mater.

CB: What about Skyline or Gold Star?
MH:
Skyline.
ML:
Gold Star. It was started at Hamburger Heaven on Beechmont Avenue in Mount Washington!

CB: If you had to find a redeeming aspect of the other side, what would it be?
MH:
I like the East side. My extended family lives there, so there are many good qualities. I love the restaurants over there.
ML:
The Westies I know are good, hard-working people. Why can't we all just get along?

 
 
 
 

 

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