When Chuck Warinner graduated from the University of Michigan with degrees in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, Cincinnati's barge business was in rapid decline. "It was bad timing," he acknowledges over a bowl of delicious, creamy asparagus soup. "So I started working in restaurants to pay the bills."
His in-laws purchased a small deli that Chuck and his wife Robbie took over in 1989. "And it's just kind of grown over the years," he says, glancing around at the large lunch crowd. Today, Dilly Deli is the No. 16 beer bar in America (Beer Advocate), the No. 10 beer retailer (ratebeer.com) and holds a "best of award of excellence" designation from Wine Spectator — the same as Pigall's! Clearly, bad timing for the barge business was excellent timing for the local culinary scene.
CityBeat: Where did you have your last great meal and what was it?
Chuck Warinner: For our anniversary, we had an excellent meal at One in downtown Mason. The space is beautiful. I had meat and Robbie had a fish dish, so we chose the wine — the Grant Burge Holy Trinity — because it went well with both our entrées.
CB: To what do you credit all the recognition you've received?
CW: While we carry lots of interesting beer and wine, it's not just the size of our selection — it's that everything adds up to a good experience. The food, service, ambience. Everything.
DILLY DELI, 6818 Wooster Pike, Mariemont, 513-561-5233