Hellriegel's Inn in Painesville, Ohio, has a long and illustrious history dating all the way back to 1805. It's little more than a 25-minute ride from downtown Cleveland, but it is a step back in time. Once known as Cherry Farms Estate, because of the cherry trees and mulberry bushes planted on the original 135-acre farm, the property changed hands several times over the years. The cherry trees and mulberry bushes remained, some of which still bear fruit to this day. The house was built in 1863.
In 1928, Joseph H. Hellriegel and his wife purchased Cherry Farms and converted the residence into a restaurant and nightclub. It was sold again in 1945 to the McNaughton family and again in 1952 to Art Covert and Bill Kochever.
I remember dining at Hellriegel's for the first time during the '60s and feeling as if I was royalty. I ordered their delicious prime rib, which, by the way, is still the undisputed favorite on the menu today.
Silvio Trifiletti and Albert Dilorio purchased the restaurant and property in 1999 and are keeping up the tradition of this timeless inn serving delicious food. Tradition, Dilorio says, is the key word. In 2009, the Painesville Area Chambers of Commerce voted Hellriegel's Outstanding Business of the Year, and it just keeps getting better.
"It's like going home," Jamie Myers, a long-time patron said. "My wife Susie and I love it here."
Patrons over the years have read like a who's-who from celebrities to athletes to politicians. John F. Kennedy spoke at Hellriegel's on his campaign trail in 1960. Hall of Fame football coach Don Shula was married at Hellriegel's, as was Hall of Fame basketball player John Havlicek. Bill Kochever, a Pearl Harbor veteran, hosted veterans reunions with keynote speakers such as Ted Williams, Woody Hayes, Bob Feller, Otto Graham, Sam Rutigliano, Bill Stanton, and many others. Hellriegel's Inn is active in the community and host to many local clubs.
Hostess Colleen Chappell has worked at Hellriegel's since 1987. She said, "I love it here." That seems to be a common sentiment. I asked her about her favorite dish at Hellriegel's. "The fried shrimp," she said, and mentioned her husband who passed away several years ago. "This was our favorite restaurant. Meet me on the avenue, he would say. I'm still here, and in a way, so is he."
Chris Mowery, a server, seems more like a friend, as do co-owner Dilorio and Chappell. The atmosphere is lovely and the surroundings are warm and welcoming. It was, indeed, a step back in time for me when I recently visited, and yet Hellriegel's has all the amenities of a modern-day restaurant made even better because of tradition. To echo the ownership and staff, "It's all about tradition."
Hellriegel's Inn is located at 1840 Mentor Ave. in Painesville, Ohio.