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by Maija Zummo 01.06.2015
Posted In: History, Food news at 02:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
zips cafe

Zip's Cafe Under New Ownership

No worries; the Cincinnati institution is staying true to its roots

Classic Mount Lookout burger joint Zip's Cafe is under new ownership — but don't freak out. Longtime general manager Mike Burke recently purchased the 88-year-old burger institution from Brian Murrie, who had owned the restaurant since 1996. 

"Over 18 years later, it's now time to pass the torch," Murrie said in a recent press release. "We've been side by side and had each other's backs for years. It's Mike's turn now."

Burke has been working at Zip's off and on since he was 15, and has been running day to day operations for the past six years. The restaurant is famous for its burgers, from its Zip Burger to its more adventurous and meaty Girthburger (a Zip Burger with a split mettwurst) and Train Wreck (a Zip Burger with shaved ham, a grilled mettwurst and three types of cheese). But they also have excellent onion rings — super crispy and the onions don't fall out of the breading like they do at other places. Also, if you're a vegetarian, they have both a garden burger and a black bean burger, which you can dress like a real burger-joint burger — American cheese, mayo, onion, pickle, tomato. 

We caught up with Burke to ask him a couple of questions about the transition and assuage any fears from longstanding Zip's fans about potential menu changes.

CityBeat: Since Zip's is a classic Cincinnati institution, people will want to know if the menu be staying the same under your control. Will there be any changes or updates?
Mike Burke: Zip's is so consistent, I don't foresee many changes to the menu. There may be some small additions here or there but I don't think the customers will notice a big difference around the restaurant … and I think that's a good thing!

CB: Since the restaurant has been part of your life off and on since you were a teenager, what does it mean for you to own Zip's?
MB: Zip's has been a big part of over half my life and at this point it is going to be even bigger for the second half. It is definitely a wild dream come true. It's owning an iconic part of Cincinnati history. To keep Zip's history of a neighborhood/city favorite and its quality and consistency the same is my biggest job moving forward.

CBWhat's your favorite menu item?
MB: Hands down my favorite menu item is the Girthburger. It's our regular burger topped with a signature mettwurst made for us at our butcher (Avril-Blehs on Court). It was named by former Bengal Pat McInally. I think it holds its own against any "designer" burger or sandwich in town. You can't skip our world famous chili either.

CBCan you relate one of your favorite memories of Zip's?
MB: Biggest memory: The former owner, Brian, hired me when he was the manager. About a month later he was the new owner. The two of us worked a busy Saturday lunch together and afterward were catching our breaths. I remember asking him, "B, do you ever just look around and think how fucking cool it is that you own this place?" His response, with a smile and a nod, was a very simple and proud, "Yes." Ever since then, it was a crazy dream. Back then, I never thought [owning Zip's] to be a possibility.  

Other than that, I will also never forget my jaw hitting the floor when my friend Patrick walked in with Jack White. One of the few times I have ever been star struck, for sure the only time while at work. He was a super nice guy and seemed to enjoy himself.

Go: 1036 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout;
Call: 513-871-9876;
Internet: zipscafe.com;
Hours: 10:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday.
by Maija Zummo 02.26.2014

Cincinnati-Based McDonald's Franchisee Invented Filet-O-Fish

Otherwise, you'd be eating a Hula Burger (cold pineapple and cheese...)

According to an article in LA Weekly, Cincinnati-based McDonald's franchisee Lou Groen invented the Filet-O-Fish sandwich in 1962. Apparently, he was having an issue selling his burgers to our huge Catholic population during Lent.

So he called up McDonald's founder Ray Kroc and explained his dilemma, suggesting they try selling a fish sandwich instead. Kroc said OK, but only if they also tested his invention: the Hula Burger, a slab of grilled pineapple and cheese on a cold bun. Kroc and Groen had a contest to see which would sell better. The fish sandwich won and fast-food fish sandwiches were born to the happiness of pescetarians, Catholics and cows nationwide. Wonder what would have happened if the pineapple burger won?

Read the whole article here

by Maija Zummo 01.21.2014
Posted In: Events, Alcohol, Beer, fundraising, Cincinnati, History at 02:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
betts house website front

Cooking with Beer! at the Betts House

Plus upcoming brewery tours to benefit the house

The Betts House, located in the Betts-Longworth Historic District in the West End, is the oldest surviving brick building in Cincinnati. Built in 1804, it opened to the public as a museum in 1996. And their current exhibit, Bricks, Barrel Vaults & Beer: The Architectural Legacy of Cincinnati Breweries, examines the tunnels, breweries, buildings and people that made Cincinnati one of the leaders of the 19th century brewing industry through photos, charts, narratives, technology and more. The show has been extended until March 27, and the house is featuring several beer-related events to close out its run.

On Saturday, Jan. 25, the Betts House will host a cooking class, Cooking with Beer! Join chef Stefan Skirtz from Findlay Market's S&J Bakery and Cafe as he demonstrates how to utilize beer in your cooking, particularly Christian Moerlein brews. 1:30-2:30 p.m. Free with museum entry ($2). The Betts House, 416 Clark St., West End, thebettshouse.org.

And then from 5-10 p.m. Feb. 7 and noon-8 p.m. Feb. 8, take a tour of the Listermann Brewing Company in Evanston (1621 Dana Ave., Evanston, listermannbrewing.com) to support the Betts House. Explore the inner-workings of the brewery, see some panels from the Bricks, Barrel Vaults & Beer display and support the mission of the house. Tour is $5 per person with proceeds going to the Betts House. More details here

by Maija Zummo 01.17.2014
Posted In: News, History, local restaurant at 10:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pompilios Returns to its Past with Bar Rebranding

The classic Newport Italian restaurant updates their back bar

Pompilios, the local Newport, Ky. restaurant famed for its family-friendly Italian fare and appearance in several major motion pitctures (Rain Man, y'all), is rebranding its back bar with the rollout of Colonel Pomps Tavern.

Established in 1933 by Colonel and Mrs. Pompilio, the bar and restaurant was the first to secure a liquor license in Kentucky after Prohibition ended. The back bar was a regular hang for Northern Kentuckians, featuring tiled floors, beveled-glass windows and a handcrafted cherry wood back bar that was built by the Wiedemann Brewing Company in 1886.

According to a press release, current owners Mike Mazzei and Larry Geiger are planning to "return to their past," imagining what the bar would have been like in 1933, when Prohibition ended. In concert with the vision, they'll be stocking a ton of local products, including a large selection of local beer.

"We intend to make Colonel Pomps Tavern a destination," Geiger says in the release. "We are featuring locally crafted beers, our large selection of bourbons, nightly bar food specialties and live music in the Rain Man room on Thursday and Friday nights."

They'll be keeping the bar's popular Monday $5 burger night and adding nights dedicated to flatbread and gourmet meatballs. 

Pompilios is located at 600 Washington Ave., Newport, Ky. They're open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. For more information visit pompiliosrestaurant.com.

by Maija Zummo 11.12.2013
Posted In: Alcohol, Beer, Cincinnati, History at 03:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
christian morlein-1901

Cincinnatians: Awesome at Drinking Beer Since at Least 1879

19th century article relays "rather remarkable stories about the capacity of the Ohio stomach"

In 1879, the New York Times published an article titled: "How Cincinnati Beer is Drunk at Home: Some rather remarkable stories about the capacity of the Ohio stomach," which told amazing tales of expert Queen City beer drinkers and just how much an average Cincinnatian can drink in a day (several kegs).

The article starts with the tale of a "remarkable statement" that one of the former members of the Mohawk Fire Company could drink 12 glasses or beer on an ordinary work day between when the clock started and finished chiming noon (less than half a minute). According to several credible witnesses, the dude did this pretty frequently — enough that he got irritated with the amount of time it took to lift a glass to and from his lips so he just poured all the beer in a giant bowl and drank from the bowl.

This was followed by an awesome story about a man named Dr. Noeffler, who once drank a keg of beer in two hours at home of his friend, brewer J.G. Sohn. According to the article, "Dr. Noeffler is quite obese, but no more so than before he became a great beer-drinker. The only visible effect which his enormous consumption of beer has had upon him has been to seriously reduce him financially."

And the article goes on and on, including information about how much beer Cincinnati brewery workers were putting away in a day — up to 35 glasses each at the Kauffman brewery, 25 at the Moerlein brewery and only between 5 and 14 at the Jackson Brewery, which was "strictly regulating" employee beer consumption based on age, build and quality of work.

Read the whole story here. (Worth it.)