Foodie Finds: The Root Beer Stand
Tucked away in a mostly-industrial section of Sharonville, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati, sits the Root Beer Stand.
Although Route 42 (Reading Road) was once on a major thoroughfare through the state, most people would not have a reason to drive that stretch of road on a regular basis, and might never stumble upon it. The Root Beer Stand doesn’t promote its business through advertising that would alert Cincinnati newcomers or visitors to its presence. And it’s open only six months of the year. Despite these facts, business at The Root Beer Stand is thriving. They don’t advertise because they don’t need to. People come from not only all over the city but also from all over the country to enjoy an ice cold mug of root beer.
Owner Scott Donley grew up with the original owners’ daughter and remembers going to the Root Beer Stand after ball games as a kid. His business strategy is about sticking with what works. Very little has changed since The Root Beer Stand opened in 1957. It sits in the original building with some of the original equipment still in operation. Even some of the employees are the same. Two of the women who currently work at The Root Beer Stand also worked there as carhops in their teenage years. The menu hasn’t changed much over the years. Scott still makes the same chili with the recipe that was passed on to him from the original owners. And, of course, the root beer is the same as it has always been.
As someone who thinks root beer is a beverage that comes from either cans or 2-liter bottles, I was very curious to find out how root beer is made. Scott was kind enough to show me. Root beer is constantly being produced in order to keep up with demand. Customers can count on fresh root beer every time they visit.
They start with well water which Scott says adds to the flavor. Sugar is then dissolved in the water to make a syrup.
Next, the root beer flavoring is mixed in, giving it its distinct flavor and deep color.
At this point, it is still a concentrated syrup and needs to be diluted with two parts water to make the final product.
The root beer is stored in an ice bath to keep it ice cold. Somewhat surprisingly, it is not carbonated. Carbon dioxide is used to pressurize the tap to dispense the root beer and that adds a bit of fizz. A chiller keeps the mugs cold until a customer orders a mug of root beer.
Or, if you’re ordering yours to go, you can get a Styrofoam cup.
Of course they also offer root beer floats, made with Velvet Ice Cream. The menu includes hot dogs, burgers, and other sandwiches, but no fries. Why not fries? It’s because they don’t have room in their small building for a fryer. You can, however, get chips on the side. I’m not sure how anyone couldn’t like root beer, but if you don’t, they offer Coca Cola products also. You can also order a gallon of root beer to go, but you should plan to drink it within a day or two for best taste.
You may have noticed a few ball caps in some of my pictures. Those are a Root Beer Stand tradition. Customers leave caps which get hung on the ceiling. They add a lot of charm, don’t you agree?
The seating inside the Root Beer Stand is very limited, but out back they have picnic tables, benches, and a playset for the kids.
There’s just one more thing you need to know before you plan your trip to the Root Beer Stand: bring cash. They don’t accept any other form of payment.
Ready to visit?
The Root Beer Stand
11566 Reading Rd. Sharonville, OH
Open late March – late September
Monday – Saturday: 10am - 9pm
Sunday: 11am - 8pm
Terri Weeks is a family travel writer in the Cincinnati area, a mom to three terrific kids, and the Cincinnati Editor for Wandering Educators. Terri is a local travel guru in Cincinnati. She and co-author Laura Hoevener have been exploring locations in and around Cincinnati for the last ten years. Together, they compiled all of their favorite adventures into their book, Adventures Around Cincinnati: A Parent's Guide to Unique and Memorable Places to Explore with your Kids. Additionally, her family is on a mission to visit all 50 states by the time her kids graduate from high school. She blogs about family travel in the US at www.travel50stateswithkids.com.
All photos courtesy and copyright Terri Weeks