Vintage House Cafe, Avon, Ohio

Home (Main Menu)

  • 10-31-06: Hauntings

  • 3-29-07: Afternoon Tea at the Vintage House Cafe

  • 5-1-10: History of the Smitty Boy

    Cafe hours are Monday - Thursday from 11 am - 8 pm, Friday and Saturday from 11 am - 9 pm, and Sundays from 10 am to 4 pm. Brunch is served until 2 pm on Sunday (buffet brunch). Take out is available.

    Vintage House will cater your special events. Catering events should be scheduled 2 weeks prior to the events

    Fax: (440) 937-5831

    Or see: www.vintagehousecafe.com/Catering.htm

    Or email: Vintageh@vintagehousecafe.com

    12-19-05 Art Show at the Vintage House Cafe, 6 to 9 PM:

    -------------------

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 4-13-05, By Julie A. Short

    ``Vintage House Café is former shop's heir apparent

    AVON -- It's been almost one year since the closing of the Country Heirs antique shop (35800 Detroit Road). It was at that time an announcement was made by property owner Taylor "Jack" Smith that the house would be converted into a restaurant.

    Fast-forward a year to the opening of Vintage House Café. The Italian bistro-themed restaurant is ... operated by Avon Lake resident Roberta Walker.

    "My sister is married to Jack's son," Walker said. "The building used to house Jack's father's doctor's office. He wanted to continue to keep the building in the family. My sister, along with my parents, suggested we open a restaurant. It's something I always wanted to do. I loved the old structure of this building and we wanted to incorporate that into the restaurant."

    Walker is no stranger to the restaurant business, although this is her first business venture. Walker's parents, Pat and Jim Wracker, owned the former Midway Oh Boy restaurant in Elyria.

    "My mother will be helping out in the kitchen," Walker said. "She also bakes all of the pies and I make the cheesecakes. My grandmother was from Sicily and many of her recipes have been incorporated in the menu." Walker wanted a menu of "real" food items made from scratch.

    "We make our own meatballs and homemade sauces," she said. "Our Nina's Italian Chicken is made with real Italian seasonings. Our Italian Wedding soup is also made from scratch. I get tired of all the chain restaurants shipping in frozen food items. Everything here is fresh."

    The menu features a variety of sandwiches including a meatball sub and grilled chicken sandwich. Dinner items include cavatelli and meatballs, and spaghetti. Comfort foods include hot roast beef and blue cheese sirloin steak. Appetizers include brochette, chicken fingers and a fresh veggie plate. Salads include antipasto and Nina's chicken salad. A kid's menu is also available. "All items are available for carry-out," Walker said. "But we want people to come in and enjoy the restaurant and feel like part of the family."

    Additional "family" touches throughout the restaurant include Walker's son, Jason Pollack's, hand blown glass creations which are sprinkled throughout the restaurant. All of the light fixtures are Pollack's one-of-a-kind designs. Glass items include vases and bowls which are available for sale. Pollack is a 1993 graduate of Avon Lake High School.

    Walker is glad the restaurant is finally open for business after renovations to the building took many months. "There was so much work that needed to be done to bring this building up to code," she said. "We had to replace all the wiring, plumbing, heating and air, plus make it handicap accessible. We are glad to finally be able to offer the people of Avon and the surroundings area something a little different."

    The 70-seat Vintage House Café is a smoke-free restaurant and is open Monday - Thursday from 11 am - 9 pm, Friday and Saturday from 11 am - 10 pm, and Sundays from 10 am - 2 pm (buffet brunch). Take out is available. For more information, call 440-937-5830.''

    -----------------------

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 4-6-05 By Michelle Payne

    ``Vintage House Cafe offers slice of home

    AVON - Those passing Avon Commons may have over-looked the house next to the shopping center before, but during the last nine months the building at 85800 Detroit Road has been transformed to a cozy little restaurant. Now it seems everyone is noticing the Vintage House Cafe.

    Built in 1940, the building that houses the cafe was originally a doctor's office, Roberta (Bert) Walker of Avon Lake said.

    "It was a dry cleaner, antique store [Country Heirs] and doctor's office before," she said. "I was trying to decide what to do with the property, and it seemed like a restaurant would be an asset to the community. I thought it would be nice to have a place were people in the community can come and gather that feels like home."

    Residents may also recognize the location as the place where former Cleveland Browns player, Bubba Baker, peddled his barbeque sauce, which is sold in grocery stores across Ohio.

    "It needed new wiring, plumbing, heating and air. We had to take the structure down to bare studs to do it," Bert said. "With the exterior, it was just a matter of cleaning and also putting in the parking lot."

    While this is Bert Walker's first business venture, she is no stranger to the restaurant industry - her parents, Patricia and Jim Wracker, are the former owners of Midway Oh Boy in Elyria.

    "When you grow up in family business, it really teaches you the different avenues of the restaurant business," she said. Bert inherited her parent's knack for the business because the Italian-American style cafe, which opened MOnday, is filling up for lunch and dinner - and Bert hasn't done any advertising. Bert credits the cafe's prime location and resident's curiosity with the high volume.

    The restaurant offers a variety of homemade soups, sandwiches, salads, appetizers and pasta dishes. The smell of the cafe's assortment of pies and cheesecakes greets customers at the door. "everything is made in-house from family recipes," she said.

    "My mom makes all the pies, and I make the cheesecakes." The cafe is open seven days a week and offers a carry-out entrance for those who need to eat and run. Bert also plans to eventually open a patio in the back of the restaurant, but wants to focus on getting the restaurant running smoothly first.

    Contact Michelle Payne at mpayne@chroniclet.com

    ---------------------

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Sun, 4-28-05, By MARY DAVIES, Staff Writer

    ``AVON -- For Roberta Walker and her family, the nine months of preparation before opening the Vintage House Cafe was much like planning for the birth of a baby.

    From the moment the Avon Lake mother and entrepreneur announced she was opening a restaurant, family members toyed with potential names for the new establishment and pitched in with expensive supplies and some free labor.

    The building's structure, a 65-year-old former doctor's office and antique gallery [Country Heirs] whose exterior resembles a single-family home, was sound.

    But almost the entire interior was gutted to update electrical and heating and cooling systems and install code-required sprinkler systems. The two-car attached garage became a full service kitchen with a walk-in cooler and freezer ...

    The cozy lunch and dinner spot at 38500 Detroit Road, Avon, has been bustling with diners since doors opened April 4 [2005]. What draws them in is the homelike atmosphere and Italian cafe decor, and what keeps them coming back is Walker's menu of longtime family recipies and made-from-scratch desserts.

    "(It's like) we're inviting you into our home," said Pat Wracker, Walker's mother. "That's what we wanted." In fact, Wracker and her husband, Jim, were very instrumental in getting the place ready. The couple, of Oberlin, had owned several independant businesses, including a restaurant in Elyria.

    Wracker helps out during business hours and assists staff of 20 servers and cooks.

    When not attending managerial duties, Walker socializes with customers and tells them the history of the property (The Sun won't divulge the story - readers will have to get it from Walker.) ...

    Diners tell Walker they love the spaghetti and meatballs, hot roast beef and Nina's Italian chicken - all recipies which have been in her family for years.

    The menu, which features mainly fresh rather than frozen foods, offers several burgers, sub sandwiches, pasta dishes, salads, sirloin steaks, chicken and breaded shrimp ranging in price from $3.75 to $13.95.

    Side dishes, homemade soups and appetizers cost anywhere from $1.50 to $6.95, and a limited children's menu in available.

    Desserts, made onsite and placed strategically at the restaurant's entranceway, include fruit and cream pies, carrot cake and a variety of cheesecakes costing $4.95 or less.

    Walker said she hopes to someday renovate the building's second floor into an art gallery and possibly add a patio to the rear, a quiet area surrounded by large pine trees. She also plans to obtain a license to serve limited alcoholic beverages and implement a daily specials menu ...''

    Cafe hours are Monday - Thursday from 11 am - 9 pm, Friday and Saturday from 11 am - 10 pm, and Sundays from 10 am - 2 pm (buffet brunch). Take out is available.

    For more information, call 440-937-5830; or Fax: (440) 937-5831

    Or see: www.vintagehousecafe.com/

    Or email: Vintageh@vintagehousecafe.com

    Top -- Home

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 10-25-06, by Rebecca Turman

    ``Haunted hunters find thrills and chills in area attractions

    AVON/SHEFFIELD VILLAGE -- Halloween, the celebration of spirits, may be lurking around the corner, but according to two local residents, the ghosts they've been dealing with don't need to use the holiday as an excuse to come out and haunt.

    A Vintage Ghost

    When the full moon rules the sky, the Walkers prepare themselves for strange occurrences with ghosts. Roberta and Kevin Walker operate the Vintage House Café on Detroit Road in Avon, and Roberta said they've experience their share of "eerie happenings." "It's the truth, the weird stuff always happens when there is a full moon," she said.

    "My husband is a nonbeliever," Roberta said of Kevin. However, Roberta said Kevin's had a few strange things happen to him. For instance, one day he saw that the phone line was lit up, so he picked up the phone, but he heard a sound like someone hanging up. When he went to look around the restaurant to see who hung up the phone, he found the place completely empty

    "When something happens, we all just look at each other," Roberta said. "We always say `it's the V Ghost,'" she said, adding that the "V" stands for Vintage.

    Though no tragedies have taken place at the restaurant, which was built in the `40s by Dr. Taylor Smith, the father of Avon Historical Society President Taylor "Jack" Smith, Roberta suspects that the spirits may be from one of the many tenants that were housed in the building over the years.

    According to Jack Smith, the list of tenants is long. Originally, Dr. Smith ran his general medicine practice there. In the early `60s, Dr. Luther Watson housed his general medicine practice there as well, alongside Dr. George Keidel, who was a dentist. Then, for about five years in the `60s, Smith said the house was Resthaven's main office, and they sold gravestones there.

    Additional businesses that were housed in the home included a drywall business, a dry cleaner and Country Heirs Antiques, which was there until the Walkers took over in 2004 and converted the building into a quaint restaurant.

    The restaurant is on the middle floor of the home. Though it was renovated, the basement and upstairs remain unchanged, which makes it even spookier ...

    The creepiest moment was when Roberta and her son Rob were cleaning up and they heard a noise coming from the area that used to be the doctor's operating room. Rob picked up a chair to use as a defense in case someone had broken in, but no one was there, Roberta said.

    Unexplainable noises aren't the only strange things the Walkers have experienced at the restaurant. The restaurant is smoke-free, but Roberta said when the full moon is out, sometimes you can catch a whiff of the faint smell of cigar smoke in the upstairs employee room that used to be the kitchen.

    There have also been some issues with the front door that seems to lock on its own, according to Roberta. "Sometimes I will have to unlock the door three to four times a day," she said, adding, again, that this usually occurs when the full moon is out.

    "It's more of a presence, hearing things or smelling things," Roberta said. "I haven't seen anything fly across the room or anything like that. It's just bizarre. "I'm almost to the point where I'm like, `OK ghost, you're disrupting my baking,'" she said. With or without the ghosts, Roberta won't be scared out of business and still plans on serving up homemade delights to her guests, she said.

    Once, twice, three times a mystery

    Tom Hoerrle, of Lorain, believes some kind of supernatural power is present at the intersection of East River and Detroit Road in Sheffield Village/ borderline of Sheffield Township.

    Hoerrle, a member on the Sheffield Village Historical Society Board of Trustees, did some research and discovered that in the 1930s, Native American graves were found near the Garfield Bridge.

    Recently, Hoerrle said many strange occurrences have taken place in the vicinity of the bridge, and he thinks it's more than just a coincidence. "Eight deer walked out to the middle of the bridge and leaped over," Hoerrle said of one strange happening. Occasionally deer will jump from the bridge, but Hoerrle said that having that many deer jump at once is highly unusual.

    The oddities don't stop there. Hoerrle said the local fire station has even had a taste of a possible supernatural being. "Back in May of 2004, there was an electrical storm at the fire station there and it got hit by lightening, not once, but three times," Hoerrle said. "That's when everybody started wondering `Is this something mysterious?'"

    Native Americans aren't the only spirits that may be stirring things up in Sheffield Village. Just down the road, at 2792 East River, it's no surprise that the oldest house in Sheffield Village, the Burrell Homestead houses ghosts as well, according to Hoerrle.

    Jabez and Lavinia Burrell built the house sometime between 1824 and 1825, and members of the family lived in the home up until 2001, when the Metro Parks took over the home.

    Hoerrle said he started researching information on the home in 1997. The home was a station on the Underground Railroad, and since the Metro Parks has owned the home, Hoerrle has been giving tours of the historic landmark to intrigued visitors.

    Hoerle said he always explains to people on the tour that many people were born in the Burrell home and many family members died there as well. That being said, tour-goers aren't the only visitors the home has, according to Hoerrle. He believes one family member's ghost lingers on the property.

    "I just get strange feelings of people following me around," Hoerrle said of his experiences at the house. "I was married there two weeks ago," Hoerrle said of the Burrell property. In almost every picture that was taken of the newlyweds, there was a strange shape in the same spot of each one, he said.

    "We believe it's a spirit," he said, further adding that he believes the spirit is Edward Burrell, who died when he was crushed in a farm accident at age 56 in 1891. "He loved the house and the land," Hoerrle said of Edward. "People have said, `He (Edward) feels how much you care about the home.' I always joke that he wanted me to take over for him," Hoerrle said of his upkeep of the house.

    "We believe he was in those pictures of our wedding. He was like one of the guests." Hoerrle said the pictures weren't the only sign of a ghostly presence at the wedding. "My nieces said they believed they saw people peeking out of the windows when no one was in the home at the time," he said. But Hoerrle isn't trying to push his "haunted" beliefs about the home on anyone. "I'll leave it up to you to make that decision," he said.''

    For more information, call 440-937-5830; or Fax: (440) 937-5831

    Or see: www.vintagehousecafe.com/

    Or email: Vintageh@vintagehousecafe.com

    -------------------

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 11-3-06, by Chuck Humel

    ``AMHERST -- It was a long Monday at work and all he wanted to do was put the day behind him. Mark Derifaj pulled into his driveway with visions of the steaming pasta or chicken dinner his wife was preparing on his mind. He pulled out his garage door opener, pressed the button ... and nothing. He pressed it again. Nothing. He kept jamming his thumb into the gray plastic button, shaking it in frustration, but the door in front of him remained frozen.

    It's a problem affecting Americans across the country, according the Government Accountability Office [GAO], the investigative arm of Congress. And the culprit could be as innocuous as a radio. The Department of Defense has been deploying new Land Mobile Radios to military installations across the country since late 2004 in order to comply with homeland security regulations, according to the GAO's Web site. These radios work off frequencies in the 380 to 399.9 MHz range, and almost 90 percent of all garage door openers operate on a 390 MHz frequency.

    Since the openers aren't licensed for the frequency and the radios are, the radios override them and apparently stop some garage doors from opening and closing. "It's been horrible,' Derifaj said, demonstrating how he has to repeatedly tap the remote even when he's pressed himself against the garage door. "I have to get out of the car every day, go in the house, open the garage from inside and then pull my car in." His wife said she's concerned for her safety. "When I come home from work and it's all dark I have to walk in instead of pulling into the garage and walking into the house," she said.

    The problem began Oct. 23 [2006]. Derifaj, 50, said he remembers it well because it was the Monday after The Ohio State University football team played Indiana University. The game was only aired for people who have a satellite dish and a neighbor bought one just for the game. "Everyone thought it was them that messed up our openers," he said. "They called out a DirecTV guy but he said it wasn't the dish."

    Six of his neighbors in the Apple Orchard Estates subdivision, in Amherst, also have had trouble with their garages that began on the same day, he said. They've called electricians, garage door installers and the city, but no one had an answer. "I have a young daughter and when she gets off the school bus she has to come in through the front door where before she was perfectly capable of opening the door," said neighbor Chip Sanoba, 39 ...

    People living near military bases have reported problems with their garage door openers since the new radios were deployed. But it's still not clear why Derifaj's neighborhood, which is miles from the closest military installation, was affected ...''

    Top -- Home

    FEATURE ARTICLE from The Press, 3-28-07, By Cynthia Schuster Eakin

    [Afternoon Tea at the Vintage House Cafe]

    ``AVON -- Step back in time at the Vintage House Cafe, a historically restored structure located at 35800 Detroit Road in Avon. Remember when families actually sat down together to enjoy a leisurely meal, rather than eating on the run? The Vintage House strives to restore that tradition ...

    "We want our guests to feel at home and get a great homemade meal," owner Roberta Walker explained. She said that many of the restaurant's specialties, including its Italian dishes, are recreated from her family recipes.

    Recently, the Vintage House took another step towards civility by bringing back the custom of afternoon tea. The restaurant offers high tea ($15), light tea ($12) and children's tea parties ($8 a child). Walker has enlisted the assistance of Pastry Chef Stacy Spillane, formerly with the Ritz-Carlton Cleveland, to create all of the wonderful little tea delicacies ...

    Walker said that some customers have expressed an interest in celebrating children's birthdays at the tea parties, so they have also added crafts and glamour shots, where the guests can dress up in vintage clothing for party pictures, for a small additional cost.

    The tea parties are held in private tearooms. Walker said that she eventually hopes to convert the entire upstairs of the restaurant into tearooms. Each room would be decorated differently in vintage decor, she said. Tea is available at the Vintage House Cafe by reservation. Walker said Chef Spillane will also be creating fancy pastries for the restaurant's Easter and Mother's Day brunches.

    [Combining good eating with the latest in technology, the Vintage House Cafe is now a free wireless access point offering wi-fi.]

    Weekday diners at the Vintage House Cafe can enjoy a variety of sandwiches, salads and homestyle dinners. Appetizers include toasted foccacia bread brochette topped with a fresh tomato, basil and garlic salsa, drizzled with balsamic vinegar ($6.99), as well as fried zucchini or fried mozzarella cheese ($6.99), and homemade sweet potato fries dusted with cinnamon ($4.99). Italian wedding soup is available daily, along with a soup du jour ($4.25).

    Diners seeking a light meal can order the tenderloin steak salad ($10.99), or smoked salmon salad ($11.99). Nina's chicken salad is topped with tomatoes, red onion, pepperoncini, mozzarella and grilled chicken ($8.99). The house salad dressing is low calorie zinfandel vinaigrette, but they also offer Gorgonzola vinaigrette, sweet and sour and orange mimosa dressing.

    Panini sandwiches are served on grilled foccacia bread and include a ham, asparagus and provolone cheese panini, portabella mushroom and roasted red pepper panini and a roast beef and cheddar panini with horseradish mayonnaise ($7.99). There are also a variety of wraps, such as the pesto chicken wrap and turkey bacon wrap ($7.99).

    Hearty burgers include the Shoreman, a half-pound of Black Angus steak with cheese, bacon, sauteed onion and mushrooms ($8.99). The Smitty Boy burger is a double-decker with American cheese and special Smitty sauce ($3.99). Other sandwiches available are the French dip, meatball sub and grilled chicken with provolone ($7.25).

    Hot roast beef served over white bread with mashed potatoes and gravy ($8.50) tops the list of homestyle specialties at the Vintage House Cafe. Other offerings are sauteed beef tenderloin tips with mushrooms and onions ($11.50), homemade meatloaf ($8.99) and chicken paprikash ($9.99). Seafood dinners include grilled salmon and a seafood/garlic/parmesan risotto.

    Italian favorites are spaghetti and meatballs ($10.50), cavatelli and meatballs ($11.50), chicken parmesan ($11.99) and veal parmesan ($14.99). Add to that cheese ravioli, pesto pasta and veal portabella with pasta and mushrooms tossed in a light cream sauce. Pasta dishes are available in half portions, and several of the homestyle entrees are served in smaller, lunch portions.

    Save room for dessert at the Vintage House Cafe. In addition to a variety of homemade fruit and cream pies and cheesecakes, there is carrot cake and chocolate Ho-Ho cake, all baked on the premises. Whole pies and cheesecakes are available to carry out, with one day's advance notice.

    The Vintage House Cafe is open for lunch and dinner from 11 am to 8 pm on Monday through Thursday, until 9 pm on Friday and Saturday, and from 10 am to 4 pm on Sunday. Brunch is served until 2 pm on Sunday. Carry out is available. Private parties can be accommodated and the restaurant does catering. They also now serve beer and malt beverages.''

    For more information, call 440-937-5830; or Fax: (440) 937-5831

    Or see: www.vintagehousecafe.com/

    Or email: Vintageh@vintagehousecafe.com

    Sarah Schwartz

    Dressed as Alice in Wonderland for the Vintage House Cafe, Sarah Schwartz sits next to a large duct tape teakettle during the Avon Heritage Duct Tape Parade [6-16-07]. photo by Stephanie J. Smith / Morning Journal

    Top -- Home

    www.morningjournal.com/articles/2010/04/28/living/mj2589548.txt

    FEATURE ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 4-28-10, By ADAM MAWSON, amawson@MorningJournal.com

    ``GOOD LIVING: BURGERS BECAUSE ...: Avon grills 'em big, juicy and with lots of style and variety ...

    Vintage House Café

    Sandwiched between entrances to the Avon Commons is Vintage House Café, 35800 Detroit Road. Upon entering, diners will immediately notice the old-fashioned, grandmother-esque charm of this restaurant that also specializes in tea parties. But don't be fooled by the décor -- Vintage House makes a killer burger!

    Owner Roberta Walker draws particular attention to a burger many local residents may be familiar with, the Smitty Boy, [also known as the Smitty Burger] a burger with an interesting story.

    In the 1960's Walker's parents, Pat and Jim Wracker owned the Midway Oh Boy, 6620 Lake Ave., where they served the "Oh Boy" burger, which was a customer favorite. The Wrackers also sold the burger at the Lorain County Fair, where it was also a huge hit, according to Walker.

    "I remember when I was a teenager, I'd go to the Lorain County Fair with my father. I'd be working there for 15 hours because everyone loved the burger so much," she recollected.

    Since then, Oh Boy has had new owners, but the Oh Boy is still a favorite, Wraker says.

    To add to the burger's rich history, a former employee of the Wrackers, Steve Frank, took over his own restaurant called Smitty's, 368 East Bridge St., Elyria, according to Walker. He served the same burger there but renamed it the Smitty Boy.

    When Walker opened Vintage House with her husband, Kevin, she decided to keep the tradition going. She said they also call it the Smitty Boy because the Vintage House used to be a doctor's office. The doctor's name was Dr. Smith.

    While the history will fill the mind, the burger is sure to fill the stomach. This double-decker burger features American cheese, shredded lettuce and, of course, the famous Smitty Sauce.

    "I call the sandwich a Lorain County tradition," Walker says.

    For a slight change of pace, Vintage House also offers the Screaming Eagle, which is similar but is made with a half-pound of Angus beef instead of the traditional double-decker ...''

    ------------

    chronicle.northcoastnow.com/2010/01/23/the-President-snags-a-burger-at-smitty%e2%80%99s-in-elyria/

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 1-23-10, by Steve Fogarty

    ``The President snags a burger at Smitty's in Elyria

    ELYRIA -- You couldn't buy the kind of publicity that fell into Steve Frank's lap Friday. After all, it isn't every day that the owner of Smitty's restaurant on East Bridge Street gets to serve lunch to the President of the United States.

    During his whirlwind visit, Barack Obama chatted up the crowd, shook hands, posed for lots of photos, and downed a burger and fries with Elyria Mayor Bill Grace. The President arrived not long after 12 to 15 Secret Service agents descended on the eatery about 11:20 a.m.

    Joking that he lost his usual Friday lunchtime business due to the 'lockdown,' Frank knows full well the huge public relations boost he'll get from being part of local history. Obama is the first sitting President to set foot in Lorain County in 62 years. The last president who visited was Harry Truman in 1948.

    Obama even plugged the restaurant in his address at Lorain County Community College later in the day.

    'He (Grace) and I shared a burger over at Smitty's,' the President said ...''

    Contact Steve Fogarty at sfogarty@chroniclet.com.

    ------------

    www.morningjournal.com/articles/2011/06/08/news/mj4585452.txt

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 6-8-11, By ADAM MAWSON amawson@MorningJournal.com

    [History of the Smitty Boy]

    While the restaurant may be famous for its presidential visitor, Smitty's has an Elyria history of more than 75 years.

    "Smitty's has always been Smitty's since 1934, said Stephanie Forthofer, who currently operates the restaurant, which has been owned by her father, Steve Frank, since 1991.

    Smitty's was originally opened as a bar in 1934, owned at that time by George Smith. Forthofer added, the original opening date may ... [give it a] local record as well.

    "We think that it could possibly be the oldest liquor license in Lorain County if not the state, but their records don't go back that far," she said, explaining prohibition ended in Dec. 1933, while Smitty's opened in Jan. 1934.

    Smith then sold the business to Dick and Lottie Spinks, who operated it for more than 20 years, before selling it to Steve Frank and his wife, Karen, in 1991.

    Forthofer said her parents originally passed on the idea of owning the bar, but then they decided to make the investment with the plan of increasing food sales and turning the bar into a full-service restaurant. "It took about three years before he really saw an increase in sales," Forthofer said.

    But she said the key to the increased sales was the introduction of Smitty's famous Smitty Burger. "After that things really took off. Smitty's is known for it's burger. That was introduced to Smitty's when we purchased it in 1991. That was something my dad wanted to do when we took it over."

    Forthover [Forthofer] said part of the burger's popularity was because it shared a similar recipe with another famous Lorain County burger, the Oh Boy. In fact, Steve Frank had previously worked at the Midway Oh Boy restaurant under former owners Pat and Jim Wracker, who introduced Lorain County to the Oh Boy ...

    As just about anyone in Elyria in January 2010 will tell you, Smitty's is also known for one special visitor that dropped by -- President Barack Obama.

    Forthofer remembers the events leading up the visit well. She said Secret Service agents had been in the area a few weeks prior and had been given a few suggestions for a place to eat by Mayor Bill Grace. Smitty's was among those suggestions ...

    [The Smitty Boy, with the special sauce, is served at the Vintage House Cafe in Avon.]

    Vintage House Cafe -- Top -- Home -- What's New