PDA

View Full Version : Cincy Chili - Can it Work Elsewhere?



TheBigLebowski
06-21-2010, 08:30 AM
I made brief mention of it in my reply to the Furman thread, but it has always amazed me that Cincinnati Chili hasn't caught on nationwide. We bring frozen Cincy Chili home with us after each visit and my Mom makes a really nice Cincy Chili from scratch. Each time she makes it, I make a point to come home and invite friends over and they always love it. Never had a single complaint.

I will admit that I don't know how widespread chili parlors are around the midwest outside of Ohio, but I know it's nowhere to be found in the southeast and I would be amazed if any entrepreneur had the guts to bring a Goldstar or a Skyline out west.

Question is, would it work elsewhere or, is it just too regional of a taste? I've always thought it would succeed down here but, of course, I have an obvious bias.

redsmetz
06-21-2010, 08:54 AM
I know I did considerably well selling Skyline on eBay and then later through my own website. I finally stopped when my wholesaler raised the price to where I couldn't make a reasonable profit from it. I used to selling 10-12 4-packs every couple of weeks. I even had folks ask me to ship a box of crackers with them or the hot sauce (which at the time wasn't being sold in bottles). I even had one person buy some Worthmore Turtle Soup.

I found this little bit online about Cincinnati's chili craze, although I have to say I've never seen a 5-way created as the writer suggests (spaghetti on top of the ingredients?) http://www.inmamaskitchen.com/FOOD_IS_ART/cliff/chilarttwo.html

I can't say which chain is larger, Gold Star or Skyline (I think it's close to even), but Skyline knocks the socks off of Gold Star for out of town locations - about 42 restaurants. As you note, they're primarily in the Tri-state area. Gold Star has five out of town (Lexington & Dayton), whereas Skyline is as far flung as Indy, Louisville, Cleveland, Toledo, Mansfield, Columbus (14 stores now) and five in Florida. Florida is basically retired Ohians and college students as their starters.

We had a a friend who grew up in St. Louis and his mom worked for a research company based here. After one trip to the home office, she came home and made "Cincinnati chili" for them, which he grew up eating after that.

Could it work elsewhere? It's hard to say, I think. I've been hard pressed to think of many local cuisines that is so ubiquitous as our chili, with so many restaurants that serve it. The term "chili parlor" is something that nearly every Cincinnatian knows, whether born here or a transplant. The only possible one I can ever think of is Philly Cheesesteaks, but perhaps others know of anther one.

TRF
06-21-2010, 10:08 AM
Well, it's not just cincinnati. Gold Star has restaurants almost to the border of Tennessee. But it is very clustered. kinda odd that there isn't one in Columbus or Indianapolis.

RFS62
06-21-2010, 10:21 AM
There's a Skyline in Naples Florida. Seems to do OK.

TRF
06-21-2010, 10:27 AM
I just checked, Skyline has 5 Florida locations

Clearwater
28776 U.S. Highway 19 North (727) 791-6887
Map this location Smoke Free

Ft. Lauderdale
2590 North Federal Highway (954) 566-1541
Map this location Smoke Free

Ft. Lauderdale
2834 North University Drive (954) 741-3929
Map this location Smoke Free

Ft. Myers
5100-323 South Cleveland Avenue (239) 278-3929
Map this location Smoke Free

Naples
710 Ninth Street North (239) 649-5665
Map this location Smoke Free

Hoosier Red
06-21-2010, 11:05 AM
There used to be a Skyline in Hilton Head(of course a popular Cincinnati vacation spot) but it suffered because eventually they couldn't get quite enough business on the chili side, and began to branch out into other typical fast food(burgers etc..) and the quality of everything suffered to the point where even Cincinnatians wouldn't go.

Although, putting a home town place where people vacation is a less effective strategy than putting it where they "retire" to. If I go somewhere for a week I don't need to eat food from home.

Also something to keep in mind, the actual Cincinnati chili recipe may be somewhat localized, but chili that is liquidy enough to top off chili spaghettis and other is also employed at restaurants like Steak N Shake.

westofyou
06-21-2010, 11:42 AM
Not west of the Mississippi, I've seen several fail out here (not franchised joints though)

TheBigLebowski
06-21-2010, 01:08 PM
I just checked, Skyline has 5 Florida locations

Clearwater
28776 U.S. Highway 19 North (727) 791-6887
Map this location Smoke Free

Ft. Lauderdale
2590 North Federal Highway (954) 566-1541
Map this location Smoke Free

Ft. Lauderdale
2834 North University Drive (954) 741-3929
Map this location Smoke Free

Ft. Myers
5100-323 South Cleveland Avenue (239) 278-3929
Map this location Smoke Free

Naples
710 Ninth Street North (239) 649-5665
Map this location Smoke Free

Wow. Good to see it's spreading. Unfortunately, however, those cities are nowhere near me. I live in North Florida.

Makes sense about the retired Ohio snowbirds as a good market. There are plenty of those in Naples/Ft Lauderdale.

DirtyBaker
06-21-2010, 01:10 PM
I don't know why it wouldn't work elsewhere, it's incredible! Skyline has been post-church tradition in the DirtyBaker household for quite some time. I remember going to a Goldstar once way outside of Columbus but there are none within reasonable driving distance to most who live in Columbus.

bucksfan2
06-21-2010, 01:24 PM
Wow. Good to see it's spreading. Unfortunately, however, those cities are nowhere near me. I live in North Florida.

Makes sense about the retired Ohio snowbirds as a good market. There are plenty of those in Naples/Ft Lauderdale.

Its not really spreading, just popping up in markets with a large Cincinnati population. Naples has a ton of Cincinnati show birds as well as a large midwest population. Throw in the Boston area people and that makes up the winter population of Naples.

Don't know about Ft Lauderdale but Ft Myers also strikes me as another large Cincy snow bird destination. It is only about 30 miles north of Naples.

What I find ironic is these locations in Florida. I really enjoy skyline but it just doesn't have the same appeal with it is hot out.

kaldaniels
06-21-2010, 02:07 PM
The Skyline near Ft Lauderdale is cash only. They directed me to a ghetto ATM machine in the corner to withdraw some cash. That has always rubbed me the wrong way...I expect consistency within a franchise.

Chip R
06-21-2010, 02:58 PM
I'm not sure it couldn't work but it would be an uphill battle. People here have been weaned on this stuff for the most part. When you hook kids on something like that, they will more than likely eat it as adults. But if you just expect adults to eat it and they have never tried it before, it could be tough for it to take. Most transplants I've seen here hate Cincy Chili. I'm an exception because I love it but people tend to get set in their ways and won't try anything new. I don't think it could thrive in any other place like it does here but I could see a store here and there do good business.

fearofpopvol1
06-21-2010, 03:00 PM
Skyline is pretty big in Indianapolis. There are several locations and it's sold frozen and in the cans at most grocery stores.

I thought, though I could be wrong, that Skyline had a deal with Kroger where all Kroger stores (which spans many states obviously) carried Skyline?

Redsfan320
06-21-2010, 03:01 PM
Just had a 3-way for lunch today... it never loses it's deliciousness... no matter how many times you go there... yum.

Can I add it was from Skyline... not GOLDSTAR :thumbdown: ;)

320

WMR
06-21-2010, 03:15 PM
Love eating it, just can't do it often because it's so bad for you.

15fan
06-21-2010, 03:18 PM
I think there are 2 battles that would have to be won:

1) The name. You say chili to someone outside the tri-state, and they think regular chili. Texas style. Comes in a cup or a bowl. Not over pasta. If we want pasta, then we will go get Italian or Chinese.

2) The region. I think it will have a better chance of succeeding (a) where there are tri-state transplants, and/or (b) where the weather is cold for a good bit of the year. In my part of the world, the growing season is long. We pick stuff out of gardens a lot longer than you do 400+ miles to the north. We can grill out pretty much all year round. We also have much better access to fresh seafood. Add in all of the barbecue (Western NC vs. Eastern NC vs. Texas vs. Memphis...) in this part of the world, and the reality is that we have a lot of other things that are going to sound better and taste better than Cincinnati chili.

LoganBuck
06-21-2010, 03:29 PM
I would like to see a Cincinnati Chilli Style Pizza. I need to make one myself to see if it works. You could do it 3, 4, or 5 way. The Chilli would be the sauce and the cheese would go on top. Has anyone seen this or has it been tried?

reds1869
06-21-2010, 05:41 PM
I would like to see a Cincinnati Chilli Style Pizza. I need to make one myself to see if it works. You could do it 3, 4, or 5 way. The Chilli would be the sauce and the cheese would go on top. Has anyone seen this or has it been tried?

Donatos did it a few years ago but I didn't try it. I like the idea in theory.

KronoRed
06-21-2010, 05:48 PM
I loved the Cincy chilli pizza from Donatos, it was a heart attack on a crust but good.

TC81190
06-21-2010, 06:33 PM
I would like to see a Cincinnati Chilli Style Pizza. I need to make one myself to see if it works. You could do it 3, 4, or 5 way. The Chilli would be the sauce and the cheese would go on top. Has anyone seen this or has it been tried?
always thought of this. I'm surprised LaRosas never collaborated with Skyline for that, similar to how they have a Montgomery Inn pizza

IslandRed
06-21-2010, 09:22 PM
I think there are 2 battles that would have to be won:

1) The name. You say chili to someone outside the tri-state, and they think regular chili. Texas style. Comes in a cup or a bowl. Not over pasta. If we want pasta, then we will go get Italian or Chinese.

2) The region. I think it will have a better chance of succeeding (a) where there are tri-state transplants, and/or (b) where the weather is cold for a good bit of the year. In my part of the world, the growing season is long. We pick stuff out of gardens a lot longer than you do 400+ miles to the north. We can grill out pretty much all year round. We also have much better access to fresh seafood. Add in all of the barbecue (Western NC vs. Eastern NC vs. Texas vs. Memphis...) in this part of the world, and the reality is that we have a lot of other things that are going to sound better and taste better than Cincinnati chili.

Good post. It's funny you mentioned barbecue, because chili inspires similar regional debates, and it's a tough sell to bring in something that's not the way it's done around there.

Personally, I prefer making my own Texas-style chili and then making a three-way with it. Each to our own, I guess.

Unassisted
06-21-2010, 10:42 PM
I wonder how it would taste if one of the "ways" was a layer of jalapenos. I can imagine that people here wouldn't even try it without that being an option.

As much as I would enjoy it, I realize that chili so different from Texas chili would never fly here in Texas, except with midwestern transplants like me.

LoganBuck
06-21-2010, 11:43 PM
I wonder how it would taste if one of the "ways" was a layer of jalapenos. I can imagine that people here wouldn't even try it without that being an option.

As much as I would enjoy it, I realize that chili so different from Texas chili would never fly here in Texas, except with midwestern transplants like me.

I don't think the jalapenos would work on the Skyline. I love jalapenos, but not on Skyline, it just doesn't sound good.

VR
06-22-2010, 12:02 AM
Thanks to the many plugs on RZ.....I tried it several years ago on a stopover at the Cincy airport. It was the farthest thing from 'chili' that I've ever tasted, east coast...west coast...anywhere in between.

No offense to the fine people of Cincy...but trust me, it's a Cincy thing.

Raisor
06-22-2010, 01:00 AM
Steak n Shake carries it's own version of pasta/chili all over the place.

Yachtzee
06-22-2010, 01:27 AM
We have some Skyline joints up in Northeast Ohio. I think Skyline could work just about anywhere because it's a unique alternative to the usual burgers and fries served by most fast food joints. However, I think the key to bringing it to new areas is to explain the origins of the chili so that people know it isn't just crazy way Cincinnatians decided to modify Texas chili, but rather it is a thing unto itself, having little relation to Texas chili beyond the name "chili."

Kingspoint
06-22-2010, 06:33 AM
Like barbecue ribs and spaghetti sauce, "good" chili has a different meaning to everybody.

What one person likes, another dislikes and vice-versa.

I've had chilis, ribs and spaghetti sauces that many people will claim as the greatest they've ever had, and I can't stand them.

Regional flavors mean everything.

Also, the older you get, the more spice you need because your tastebuds deteriorate (like sight, hearing, and smelling) over age.

TeamCasey
06-22-2010, 08:06 AM
I think the fact that it's called chili hurts it elsewhere. I'm from the northeast and I find it to be an odd concoction ...... but I'm stuck in the notion of what I call chili.

The first time I had it, I said ..... oh .... it's Alpo on spaghetti. I like it better now ..... except for the big pile of cheese.

TeamCasey
06-22-2010, 08:11 AM
Like barbecue ribs and spaghetti sauce, "good" chili has a different meaning to everybody.


That's true. I'm not even a huge fan of true Texas chili which is all meat. I like fresh peppers (hot and bell), onions and beans in mine. My chili is more of a garden chili.

RFS62
06-22-2010, 08:39 AM
Thanks to the many plugs on RZ.....I tried it several years ago on a stopover at the Cincy airport. It was the farthest thing from 'chili' that I've ever tasted, east coast...west coast...anywhere in between.

No offense to the fine people of Cincy...but trust me, it's a Cincy thing.



Yeah, calling it chili is really a misnomer. It's more like a sauce to me. Not bad, but not what I think of when I want chili.

reds1869
06-22-2010, 10:27 AM
I don't think the jalapenos would work on the Skyline. I love jalapenos, but not on Skyline, it just doesn't sound good.

But it IS good. We make four ways like that at home all the time. Red chili flakes are also delicious on Cincinnati chili.

As for folks who can't get over the name, my dad is the same way. He will never be able to get past the name. When you consider that "chili" is really just short for "chili con carne" I don't understand the big deal. The name is still quite accurate! I'm not a Cincinnati native but I approached the stuff with an open mind. I've loved it ever since my first bite.

Roy Tucker
06-22-2010, 10:47 AM
I watched a Guy Fieri show yesterday and he called it weird chili. Explained how it was Cincinnati chili recipe and the whole 2-3-4 way thing.

It was for a show called Guy's Night out.

TRF
06-22-2010, 04:57 PM
I wonder how it would taste if one of the "ways" was a layer of jalapenos. I can imagine that people here wouldn't even try it without that being an option.

As much as I would enjoy it, I realize that chili so different from Texas chili would never fly here in Texas, except with midwestern transplants like me.

true. We've made it here for years and never place in chili cookoffs.

stoopid Texans. :D

KYRedsFan
06-22-2010, 06:59 PM
There are a couple chili parlors in Chicago that serve Cincinnati style chili. This one is pretty cool.

http://cinners.net/

Yachtzee
06-22-2010, 07:36 PM
There are a couple chili parlors in Chicago that serve Cincinnati style chili. This one is pretty cool.

http://cinners.net/

That looks like a pretty cool place and it's in one of my favorite parts of Chicago, near Lincoln Square (I miss the Chicago Brauhaus). When I lived in Chicago, I used to go to Chili Mac's on N. Broadway.

cincinnati chili
06-28-2010, 07:45 PM
I agree that it will be tough for it to catch on everywhere, but it will probably catch on in a few more places in time.

Gold Star failed in the southern Denver suburbs in the 1990s. I blame the location. The first one was in a strip mall in a high income suburb (Greenwood Village) and the next one was actually in a mall.