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Milders Inn

Milders Inn. In 1914, Jacob and Mary Milders acquired the property at the northwest corner of Pleasant Avenue and Nilles Road. They renamed the business Milders Inn. Previously, the building had been the Village Cafe and Summer Garden in the Fairfield Twp. community known as Symmes Corner. It had been operated by H. J. Meyers. Directly across Pleasant Avenue was Symmes Tavern, which dates back to the 1850s when Mount Pleasant Pike was a toll road. Although then in a quiet rural setting, Milders Inn was accessible by interurban (or traction) service from Cincinnati and Hamilton and points beyond. The electric-powered cars on the Cincinnati & Lake Erie system stopped at the front door of the popular leisure spot with service every 30 or 60 minutes throughout the day. Interurban cars stopped running July 1, 1938, and were replaced by buses. Milders Inn attracted diners and celebrants from near and far. The clientele included some Cincinnati Reds players and business and social notables from a wide region. During the Prohibition era, 1919-1933, some of the region's most notorious bootleggers and rum runners patronized the spot. Local people favored it for banquets and wedding receptions. It also featured an outdoor garden, popular during warmer months. May 27, 1929, before a famous Little Chicago shootout, Turkey Joe Jacobs and Bob Zwick interrupted their meal at Milders Inn for a bloody rendezvous a few hundred yards west at River Road. Jacobs was killed, but Zwick, after being shot, returned to Milders Inn before fleeing the area. 

Fried chicken in a cordial atmosphere was the reason most people patronized the restaurant and cafe. During its 28 years, Milders Inn was synonymous with fried chicken in southwestern Ohio. "Our price for a chicken or steak dinner is $1, but, oh, what a great, big marvelous meal," boasted a 1933 newspaper advertisement. Sandwiches were 10 cents. Bottled beer was 15 cents and draft a nickel, according to the same ad. Mrs. Milders, known as Mom to hundreds of customers, did most of the cooking. "Mom hired about seven German cooks, all of them had their own specialties and after special teaching from Mom they were great," said Ray Milders, a son, in a letter quoted in Esther Benzing's book, Fairfield, Ohio: Township and City. "Dad taught the girls how to fry chicken," he explained. Milders said the inn "always had homemade noodles made in chicken broth. The girls, under Mom's direction, canned over 2,000 cans of corn each summer which was served through the winter." Milders said his parents and employees also prepared "35,000 homemade pickles and gallons of all kinds of homemade relishes and preserves, homemade tomato juice and catsup." Mrs. Benzing noted that "several good truck farmers lived practically next door to the inn, so the combination of hour-fresh vegetables, plus good cooking, made some delectable dishes." 

Jacob Milders died in 1935. His wife, Mary, died in 1942. After 28 years of family ownership, the inn closed in October 1942. The property and equipment, including more than 30 tables, were sold at auction the next month. The auctioneer's ad called Milders Inn "Ohio's best-known chicken and steak dinner cafe and restaurant" and boasted that it had been "known from coast to coast." Milders patrons wouldn't recognize the intersection and its surroundings. Symmes Corner has lost its rural identity. It became part of the city of Fairfield in 1955. The cornfields and farm buildings are gone. So are traces of the electric-powered interurban system. Restaurants abound within a quarter mile of the inn site. Nilles Road, no longer a country lane, and Pleasant Avenue (U. S. 127), which was two narrow lanes into the 1960s, form a busy intersection with five lanes in each direction.

A CVS drug store, completed in 2001, stands at the northwest corner of Pleasant Avenue and Nilles Road in Fairfield. A small display in the parking lot recalls a one-of-a-kind family restaurant that once distinguished the location.

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