Monday, June 18, 2012

Beer, Banks and Waffles

One of my favorite places to eat in Over-the-Rhine is Taste of Belgium. I just love seeing the cool tiles on the floor, the beautiful tin ceiling and eating their delicious food. So I decided I just had to know more about this building.
Source - Digging Cincinnati History
The Hamilton County Auditor dates this building to 1850. In that year, Henry Schmidt ran a coffee house at this southwest corner of 12th and Vine Streets. By 1865, it is a saloon ran by John Becker and at this same location, brothers Max and Edward Weil ran a store offering books, book binding and stationery. The Weils continued this business, possibly in the second floor, until they moved around 1880 to another corner at this intersection.
1887 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source
The saloon disappears from the city directories during the 1880's, when Mrs. D. Zehnder had a shop that sold hair jewelry, real and imitation hair and other fancy goods. But never fear, the alcohol returned by 1890, when the corner location was called The Jefferson Club and the saloon was run by John Kammeron. The place was busy in 1895 with the following groups using it as their meeting place:

EXECUTIVE BOARD OF THE OHIO STATE LIQUOR LEAGUE. J. M. Kammeron, Chief Organizer. Office, s.w.c. 12th and Vine
GOODFELLOW SAENGERCHOR, meets every Tuesday at s.w.c. 12th and Vine
HARMONIA MAENNERCHOR, meets every Tuesday at s.w.c. 12th and Vine
JEFFERSON CLUB, meets first Monday of each month at s.w.c. 12th and Vine.
LITHOGRAPHIC ARTISTS, meet first and third Mondays of each month at s.w.c. 12th and Vine
NEW CHARTER FISHING CLUB, meets first Monday in each month at s.w.c. 12th and Vine
PRESSERS' AID ASSOCIATION, meets every Sunday at s.w.c. 12th and Vine
RHEINLAENDER UNTERSTUETZUNGS VEREIN, meets first and third Tuesdays of each month at s.w.c 12th and Vine
SALESMEN'S INTERNATIONAL AID ASSOCIATION, meets second Saturday of each month at s.w.c. 12th and Vine
SCHLESWIG HOLSTEINISCHER UNTERSTUETZUNGS VEREIN, meets second and fourth Mondays in each month at s.w.c. 12th and Vine
WESTPHALEN UNTERSTUETZUNGS VEREIN, meets Second Thursday of each month at s.w.c. 12th and Vine
YOUNG MEN'S SOCIAL CLUB, meets every Thursday at s.w.c. 12th and Vine
BOOK BINDERS' UNION No. 27, meets second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at s.w.c. 12th and Vine
CINCINNATI LITHOGRAPHIC PRINTERS' UNION No. 8, meets second and fourth Fridays of each month at s.w.c. 12th and Vine
TEAMSTERS' AND DRIVERS' UNION, meets first and third Sundays of each month at s.w.c. 12th and Vine
VICTORIA BUILDING ASSOCIATION NO. 3, meets every Wednesday at s.w.c. 12th and Vine
1891 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source

By 1905, the corner bar received a new name, familiar to many Cincinnatians, The Bank Cafe. G.J. Peterson named it this for very good reasons. Right next door, the then-new Union Savings Bank was built, now the Ensemble Theatre, and just across Vine Street stood the Western German Bank.

The ownership of the saloon changed hands to Frank Hee around 1910. He continued to run the business through prohibition, selling soft drinks instead of alcohol. In the 1930's, Samuel Petroff ran the business until 1938, when Walter Hee, Frank's son, took the business back into the family.
1904-1930 Sanborn Insurance Map - Source

In 1951, Joseph C. ʺBusʹʹ and Martha Lee Schroer brought back the Bank Cafe. They must be the owners who put up the great sign at the corner. The Schorers retired from the business in 1982. As you can see in the photo below from 2004, the Bank Cafe had also become the Vine Market Carryout, offering breakfast, lunch, dinner, 25-cent wings and check cashing.
The building was rehabbed as part of 3CDC's development of the Gateway Quarter. The corner, called Gateway Arts, housed the information offices and the upper floors were renovated and leased to the Cincinnati Art Academy for student housing.
Now, we have Taste of Belgium, where you can enjoy delicious waffles any time of day, whether with coffee in the morning or a Belgian beer and chicken for dinner. A beautiful restaurant and yummy food!
Source - Digging Cincinnati History

1 comment:

  1. Great Article, Anne; was in the Bank Cafe' many times for good food, and hot coffee before it became Taste of Belgium.....that was when the old timers were still crowded in there, sipping their coffee, and the Rookwood Tiles were all along the top of the wainscott in a single line......miss that place.....:-)


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