Empress Chili (Delhi/Rapid Run)

Empress Chili since 1922
Empress Chili (Delhi/Rapid Run)
William D. SIEMER II
June 23, 2011

Note: Rapid Run Empress Chili will be open until end of July, and then moving to Dixie Highway in Kentucky. Another Empress Chili will be opening in Western Hills by Pirate's Den/Champions/Toys R Us. The signage is already in place.

The Rapid Run/Delhi Empress Chili has announced by way of a sign they will be closing their doors after 35 years in Delhi. Although I haven't heard verbal confirmation, this is set to be a sad conclusion to a restaurant that runs deep in my heart as a customer, former employee and friend.

In 1922, the downtown Cincinnati Empress Chili was founded by Greek immigrants Tom and John Kiradjeff. They opened a hotdog stand next to the Empress Theatre, thus giving Empress it's name. Eventually, this business became the chili parlor we know today. Interestingly, a former Empress Chili chef, Nicholas Lambrinides, is credited for the foundation of another chili restaurant, Skyline Chili.

My family and I dined at Empress many times when I was growing up. I'd usually order a 2-way (Chili and Spaghetti) and Pepsi while reading the newspaper's sports section to see how my favorite baseball player, Ken Griffey Jr., was performing. Although franchised, it's been a family-operated, homely restaurant serving chili and sandwiches. It had undergone several changes in ownership and subtle revamps throughout the years.

It wasn't until Trish and Troy took over the restaurant when Delhi Empress began developing its own character. The interior was freshened with framed pictures from sporting event milestones and Cincinnati photos. They added a touchscreen arcade game, ice cream, Slushies, a claw machine and daily special pricing. They worked hard on promoting the business at festivals, appeared on the Food Network, offered 99 cent cheese coneys, and bought ad placements in local newspapers/magazines.

When I was facing a difficult time in my life, I took on a second job at Empress Chili to keep my mind off the negative. Troy was happy to bring me in, and we quickly became friends. At work it was all business, but once the door closed we would enjoy a good game of hoops, air hockey or cards. Every Christmas, he would have people over to his house for a gift exchange. I met a lot of great people while working there. They really helped me turn things around.

It's sad to see motivated local business owners leaving something they put so much effort and care into. Their hard work ethic will follow them to wherever they go. I stopped in yesterday to say my goodbyes and enjoy one last 3-way at a place that has meant so much to me. A great establishment is leaving me, but I will always have the fond memories Empress Chili has given me.

Empress Chili Bar/Kitchen

Empress Chili Sport's Memorabilia

Western Hills Empress Chili MENU (Werk Road)

Follow-up Note:
There are several other Empress Chili's//Here is an article written about one:

Jim Papakirk has big plans for Empress Chili
Owner wants city's oldest chain to claim bigger share of Cincinnati obsession 
Business Courier - by Tom Demeropolis, Courier Staff Reporter

“We put Cincinnati-style chili on the map,” said Empress Chili owner Jim Papakirk.


First on the agenda should be an official Empress Chili website.
Adding an Empress Chili location in Cincinnati Marketplace, between Werk Road and Glenway Avenue in Green Township, is a step in the right direction.

Steve Newman, a longtime Re/Max real estate agent, will be the owner of the new location. Getting back into the chili business is something he’s been trying to do for a long time. His family had an Empress franchise back in the 1960s and ’70s.

The plan is to open the Empress restaurant between Pirate’s Den bar, which is owned by Newman’s sister and brother-in-law, and Champions.

No comments:

Post a Comment