A BRIEF HISTORY
The Root Beer Stand," the wonderful eatery that signifies summer in Greater Cincinnati, opened as an A & W Root Beer Stand in 1957. Since then, Cincinnati Magazine has named it as the best place to quaff a root beer in town and ranked "The Stand" in the number 12 slot among the "Top 100 Places in Cincinnati."
Mick and Nancy Rideour -- along with Nancy's parents, Jim and Catherine Clark -- were the original owners. They like the idea of running a seasonal restaurant in the summertime. This type of business was a perfect fit for Mick, who was a school teacher.
The location they chose remains the one and only site of the Root Beer Stand. The property boasts a well that's 280 feet deep. Water from this well contributes to the distinctive flavor of The Stand's root beer and makes it taste sooooo good.
In 1957, Sharonville was a small railroad town. The Stand stood on what were then the outskirts of town on Rt. # 25 (Cincinnati-Dayton Road). That was the main road from Michigan to Florida. In those days, before interstate highways crisscrossed America, a large number of daytime customers were travelers or truck drivers. Many of The Stand's visitors lived nearby. Back then, the vast majority of homes and cars weren't air-conditioned. So, it was a great treat for the family to hop in the car, PJ's and all, and head out for an ice cold mug of root beer.
Even though it was more or less in the middle of nowhere, The Stand was an immediate success. Saturdays were packed with little league baseball teams coming in after their games for a mug of root beer, which, by the way, cost a whopping nickel back then.
Catherine Clark was an excellent cook. She loved experimenting with different spices and mouthwatering recipes. This is how she came up with the secret concoction that became The Root Beer Stand's chili. We still use Catherine Clark's original chili recipe. And speaking of secret recipes, we still make the root beer the old-fashioned way at The Stand. We use the same top-of-the-line ingredients as we have since The Stand opened. Our recipe remains unchanged. And we make the root beer using the same equipment that's been on hand since 1957.
All the owner's -- Jim and Catherine, along with Mick and Nancy, and now Scott and Jackie Donley -- have put quality first. From 1957 to today, we have prided ourselves on serving the best possible food and drink.
In 1957, as is true today, most of the employees were teenagers working for the first time. They were all carhops then with a standard uniform of black slacks, white blouse and white gym shoes. But never roller skates. It was hard work carrying those heavy trays filled with glass mugs and foot-longs, especially in the hot, humid summers we get around here. The customers loved the carhops. when they recall the good old days at The Stand, they talk about the carhops the most -- right after the nickel mugs of root beer. Car hopping came to an end in 1972 for various reasons, including the growing theft of mugs and trays.
Except for the addition of exterior siding a few years ago, The Stand looks pretty much the same as it did in 1957. The building was set up so customers were either waited on by carhops or walked up to two screened windows for carryout service. In 1957, all the food and drinks were prepared where the today's waitresses stand and take orders. Today's kitchen was the storage area back then. With the growth of the business and bringing the carhops inside as counter help, more space was needed. Changes were made and completed by the 1973 season.
In 1982, the A & W franchise expired. The name was changed to "The Root Beer Stand" and business didn't miss a beat, thanks to those loyal customers of the previous 25 years.
By late 1989, both Jim and Catherine Clark had passed away. Mick and Nancy decided they were ready to retire. In January 1990, the Ridenours and Scott and Jackie Donley came to an agreement on the purchase of The Root Beer Stand. When The Stand opened in late March for the 1990 season, Scott and Jackie were the proud new owners.
In 2013, Scott and Jackie decided to begin transitioning the business to their daughter Abby and son-in-law Eric. They are passionate about carrying on the rich tradition.
The Root Beer Stand has always been a close-knit family operation from day one and remains so today.