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The Red Rooster Diner
1711 State Route 28 Goshen, OH 45122 | (513) 509-8161
The “Better than yours” burger craze continues in Cincy. Joints keep opening up, basing their fame & fortune on the burger they think is better than the other 3300 burgers out there. Some feature strange meat blends, pretzel buns & foie gras. Aged cheeses stuffed inside, alfalfa and wheat grass piled on top. wasabi mustard truffle oil mayos and grilled asparagus toppings. It never ends. Everyone’s looking for the One Up.
The newest burger joint doesn’t even try to be a burger joint. Red Rooster, in Goshen features a vast menu (maybe too vast for good food costs) loaded with breakfast, starters, salads & soups, meatloaf, fried chicken, sandwiches and eight burgers. All named after classic cars, the burgers stand out as the main vein in Rooster’s joint. Even though the name implies chicken, the burgers take up a lot of space on the menu. Roosters does offer a two piece chicken dinner. I need to try that.
I told them I expected to see chicken in meals and buckets, quarts of sides and boxes of biscuits judging by the sign. The owner replied “We should sell it like that.” I agree. There are only five fried chicken joints in all of Cincy (non-corporate of course). FIVE. All five are good, and busy. At first glance, I thought this place made six, indeed a short list to be on. But, as it turns out Red Rooster is more of a burger joint than a chicken joint.
Faced with eight burger varieties, I let the family staff do the choosing, one said the 57’ Chevy Vette was the best... “If you like a Big Boy you’ll love this”, another said the 57’ Dodge Challenger was the best... “This burger is like a Whopper but better!” I was pondering the notion of a 57” Challenger car, as there was no such animal. In 1959 a limited edition Dodge “Silver Challenger” was introduced mid-year, but the first true Challenger model was 1970... I was lost in thought about the Challenger history while the boys went back & forth about the merits of each burger. They were in a deadlocked debate about it that was never going to end, so I got both. Just $3 each ala carte. Why not?
What’s crazy is... they were both right. The Challenger was incredibly Whopper like. It was as if Burger King pulled out all the stops for a Food-TV burger showdown and made the freshest, best looking Whopper ever made, but keeping it just as it is normally, ingredient wise. Just fresher and perfectly presented. This was just that. A perfect Whopper clone. I liked it.
The Vette was also dead on a Big Boy. Better situated and certainly fresher but it still fairly reeked of that signature savory Big Boy-ness. Other than the Rooster Sauce’s extra zang, it too was a perfect clone. I liked it as well. They were both equally impressive.
A fish & chips was ordered. It was obviously frozen box fish and tasted like it too. It’s a rookie restaurateur mistake but it should be promptly removed from the menu. Sorry guys but your burgers feature fine quality and fabulous familiar flavor. The frozen fish has no place on a quality menu. You’re better off without it. It will certainly cause bad customer response and drag you down for no good reason. Ditch it. Or else, get some fresh fish and figure out a serious fresh batter if you intend to sell fish.
Or better yet, lose the fish, focus on the burgers. You don’t need one of everything... just one really good thing. Look at Terry’s, Five Guys, Smashburger and America’s true “Burger King”... In & Out Burger! Massive sales, millions made daily and with nothing but a burger & fries on the menu. My opinion is worth what it costs (nothing in this case) but I’m neck deep in the biz and I see them come and go. I would lose anything off that menu that doesn’t measure up to those good burgers. Or doesn’t sell as well. Streamline. Focus on freshness. Freezers are for ice cream. They ruin anything else.
I learned the Red Rooster founder has worked at many fast food restaurants. This led me to imagine... “While he was slaving out the hours mopping grease under the hot lamps was he secretly stashing notes on trade secret recipes? While managers assumed he was tediously toiling counting inventory was he actually scribbling ingredients off of product boxes? Perhaps this “McPloyee” was earning more than his $8 per hour... perhaps he was earning a fast education on fast food recipes. If true, you’ve gotta love him. Pull off the ultimate Rip Off on the Big Guys right under their nose yet commit no crime. Set up shop down the road and run a savage burn on the local Burger King, McDonald’s and the Big Boy all at the same time. You gotta applaud his moxy. And his merit for pulling it together so perfectly.
I also applaud his cleverly cloned burgers (I haven’t tried his original ones). No over-blown over the top exotic ingredients, no twisted bakers bun of the month. Just classic restaurant burger fare we all grew up with, know and love. It’s classic. And it’s priced like fast food. They even have a $1.35 burger that’s just like... you guessed it... a McD’s hamburger. Are you following the theme here folks? Damn if they don’t need a drive thru! I would love to see the Red Rooster re-create a few more famous burgers such as a true Whitey’s slider, a Quarter Pounder and a Big Mac. “All your favorite fast food burgers on one menu!” What a hook that would be. Who could say no?
It’s family friendly and churchers in particular should feel free to say grace as there is a huge poster with Ten Commandments staring at you on the wall, several crosses and a church flyer at the register. I would think they’re aligned right to do a hell of a Sunday-after-church business. However, true to the Sabbath, they take that day off.
They should hire a few non-churchers to work the place on Sundays. Then, invite the congregation to switch the after-church-dinner from Frisch’s to Red Rooster. The hungry brothers & sisters would get way better food (for less) & service and the Rooster would get a nice Sunday offering of it’s own. It’s a tight economy. Why give Frisch’s all that burger money? Besides, what good are brethren if they don’t support your family business rather than giant heathen corporations? It’s just a theory.
Sundays aside, Red Rooster is open Mon-Sat. 7am-9pm. The Red Rooster is located on St Rt 28 in Goshen. Look for the old red Ford under the Red Rooster sign. Or (weather permitting) you might see the Rooster mascot waving at you on 28. Breakfast (27 items), lunch (8 burgers, 5 sandwiches, 2 hot dogs) or dinner (Daily Specials Mon-Sat), bring your appetite and your cash, for now it’s cash only.
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