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Skyline Chili is a chain of chili restaurants based in Cincinnatimarker, Ohiomarker. Founded in 1949 by Greekmarker immigrant Nicholas Lambrinides, Skyline Chili is named for the view of Cincinnati's skyline that Lambrinides could see from his first restaurant (which has since been demolished), opened in the section of town now known as Price Hill. It is also the "official chili" of many local professional sports teams and venues, including the Cincinnati Reds, Columbus Blue Jackets and the Kings Islandmarker theme park.


In 1912, Nicholas Lambrinides immigrated to Cincinnati from Kastoria, Greecemarker, and brought his favorite family recipes with him. To save up the money to bring his wife to America as well, he first worked as a cook for a railroad crew and in a hotel kitchen, then opened a short-order diner. After nearly a decade, his wife was able to join him in Cincinnati and they raised five sons.

By World War II, Lambrinides was working as a chef for the original Empress Chili restaurant, where he continued to tinker with a recipe which he had been developing for years. In 1949, he and three of his sons opened their own place on Glenway Avenue, near the top of a steep hill (Price's or Price Hill); they named it Skyline Chili for its panoramic view of downtown Cincinnati. After some local resistance in the predominantly Catholic neighborhood, Skyline developed a large and devoted following – especially on Thursdays and Saturdays, which immediately preceded and followed meatless Fridays.[2]

The family opened a second restaurant in 1953 and the growth of the business accelerated in the 1960s; by the end of the century, there were 110 Skyline restaurants, mostly in Ohio, but with additional establishments in other states including Kentucky, Indiana, and Florida. Lambrinides died in 1962 at the age of 82, but his sons continued to operate and expand the company. They retained the original recipe unchanged, though. According to William Lambrinides, "Dad always said, 'Don't change a thing with the recipe – don't add anything, don't take out anything, it's perfect the way it is'." As a result, Skyline's version has largely become synonymous with "Cincinnati-style chili". In 1998, the company was sold to Fleet Equity Partners, a New England investment firm, which promised not to change the recipe (which they reportedly keep locked in a safe).


Skyline Chili is unique in that it is not chili con carne, the meat dish that originated in (and is the state dish of) Texasmarker. Instead, Cincinnati-style chili is a sauce usually used over spaghetti or hot dogs, containing a unique blend of spices that gives it a very distinct taste. Officially, the recipe for Skyline Chili is a well-kept family secret among Lambrinides' surviving children. However, many Skyline patrons and Cincinnatians believe that the unique taste of Skyline Chili comes from chocolate and cinnamon, spices common in Greek cuisine's meat dishes. The general recipe is not unique to Skyline — "Cincinnati-style" chili is sold by several chili parlors in the area including Empress, Dixie, Gold Star Chili, Camp Washington, and other chili parlors.

Skyline's menu includes their signature dishes: cheese coneys (a hot dog topped with Skyline Chili, mustard, onions, and cheese), and 3-ways (spaghetti topped with Skyline Chili and cheese; 4-ways (choice of beans or onions added), and 5-ways (beans and onions both added). Additional menu items include burritos made with Skyline Chili, classic and Greek-style salads, french fries, and baked potatoes topped with Skyline Chili. To accommodate patrons who follow a low carbohydrate diet, Skyline has recently offered low-carb options such as a "coney bowl"—a cheese coney without the bun, and also now serves vegetarian options, using beans and rice in place of chili in many of its dishes.


Skyline Chili operates over 100 restaurants in Ohiomarker, Indianamarker, Kentuckymarker, and Floridamarker. The restaurants may be considered somewhere between "fast food" and "casual dining." Diners may sit at a booth or table and be served by a waiter, or at many locations, sit at a counter near the kitchen. Carry-out and drive-through service are also available at several locations.


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