Strange how many times in my life I have started toward something and then found myself at a very different destination. I ate Greek food in Chicago, gyros to be specific, and asked, ‘How come you can't get these in Cincinnati?’ Seemed like the next great thing to me.”
This is what guided Myra Griffin of Myra’s Dionysus as she ventured to open her own restaurant near the University of Cincinnati campus in 1977. She wanted create a unique eating experience in the Cincinnati area. Kicking off the next big thing isn’t easy, though, and to keep it fresh, Myra saw to it the menu has an array of ethnic food.
“…I realized how little meat other cultures used and how much better it was for you,” she says. “Thus I became a much more vegetarian restaurant.”
When most people think of food in a college town, greasy quick meals and sandwiches from McDonald's come to mind. Myra didn’t want that. In fact, one of her main criteria for a location was a college town, for open-minded individuals who would enjoy her healthy, vegetarian alternative to standard college cuisine. “Healthy does not mean it can't taste good,” she says. That’s what she strives to deliver for every meal.
Myra’s other point in opening Dionysus was to craft an atmosphere where people could bring their families and enjoy themselves, again a notion not widely thought of in a college town. One would think more of fun drinking locations or places to get a quick bite but not somewhere you’d bring a child.
Myra’s Dionysus is a place where one family in particular has created a tradition — four generations have enjoyed Myra's cooking. That is service that’s hard to compete with. Dionysus is a kinetic place as well. It’s always moving forward, adapting new dishes to the proverbial arsenal. Myra enjoys the challenge of coming up with new dishes. She draws on cultures around the world, relishing in diversity.
“It has been a case of trying things, if they work, keep them; if not, change,” she says. At Myra’s Dionysus, the goal for the restaurant is to entertain people through atmosphere, customer service and good conversation. Myra has her degree in education, so teaching her employees was simply second nature. Seeing workers solve issues together and have a great time doing it is what helps drive the business ahead of the rest.
Myra’s Dionysus is an interesting establishment. It’s healthy, odd, has history but plays on contemporary trends. Myra makes sure all of these aspects and more show off to the outside world to bring in anyone willing to give one of her dishes a try. All Myra wants at the end of the day is a good experience for people involved.
“The fun is in seeing others enjoy what we have to offer,” she says.
Myra's Dionysus is located at 121 Calhoun St., Clifton Heights. Go here for menu, hours and more information.