I have a vision of my future: Someday I will live at The Phelps, the genteel old apartment building across the street from Lytle Park, and every midday I'll toddle down Fourth Street to eat lunch at Hathaway's in the Carew Tower.
Well, I might never be able to afford the apartment, but it's good to know that Hathaway's will still be there. They've just had a grand re-opening under a new owner who has preserved the retro lunch counter feel that's made this place a landmark.
We enjoyed an early Saturday lunch — so early that most of the other patrons were having omelettes and toast. But we sat up on the spinnable stools and went for the great American experience, including yummy chocolate malts ($3.50). Our server, Zonia, who has been working at Hathaway's for nearly 30 years, says that in the restaurant's heyday she'd make and serve 50 milkshakes a day. Wow.
The décor and the lighting are bright with vintage boomerang patterned Formica countertops, lots of chrome and tile in turquoise and black. There are great historical photos on the walls that the new owner, Chris Bronger, researched and had reproduced by Cincinnati Sign. Of course, the music is vintage, too — circa Bobby Darin and Ella Fitzgerald.
I loved my medium-rare burger topped with a pile of crumbled blue cheese ($6.50) with a classic paper-cup side of coleslaw and a heap of fat French fries ($1.75). My healthy-eating companion opted for the grilled chicken sandwich ($6.95), but then gave in to homemade onion rings ($2.50). They were delicious. Of course, in my future little old lady visits, I'll opt for Hathaway's specialty salad ($7.95) with a scoop of cottage cheese with yogurt, coconut, walnuts, raisins, fruit and apricot dressing, served with a hot cinnamon muffin.
Sadly, none of the desserts are homemade, but the apple pie ($2.50) wasn't bad for store-bought. It seemed like the perfect ending to the all-American luncheonette meal.
During our visit, the customers were mostly guests of the Netherland Plaza Hotel upstairs, asking directions to the Carew Tower Observation Deck and generally making more out of a day Downtown than any of us who live here do. I hope Hathaway's gets a good weekday crowd from downtown offices. Bronger deserves the business — he's done a great job of preserving this local landmark.
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