Michael Daniels and Charlena Calloway have a brand new burger for Cincinnatians to try. The husband and wife duo officially opened their new restaurant, Stuffed on Vine, on March 1. Located in Over-the-Rhine, just a block east of Findlay Market and a few doors north of Tuckers, OTR’s newest eatery seeks to offer affordable food with a homey feel.
Daniels and Calloway both grew up in Cincinnati, but had been living in Atlanta for the past 13 years. The couple moved back home to be closer to family, and job circumstances led to the new venture.
“I developed my Stuffed Burger down in Atlanta, and had been selling them along with home made barbeque on weekends,” Charlena explained. “I’ve always loved cooking for friends and family, and it just made sense to try having our own place.”
Though the actual patty construction is a secret, the signature Big Lene burger boasts a combination of mushrooms, onion, bell peppers, hot sport peppers, four cheeses and mayonnaise tucked inside a generous portion of ground beef. With the exception of a poor rendition from Burger King, Lena’s creation is extremely unique to the area.
“Every bite of the burger is a different flavor experience,” said Calloway. “You’re not allowed to cut into the burger – if you ask for a knife, I’ll say not until you take a bite first!”
Other menu items include wings with a wide array of sauces, made-fresh-daily in house chili, tilapia salad, a variety of sandwiches and a killer take on the Cincinnati coney (according to this writer). The coney is a kosher beef dog with the special chili containing tomatoes, bell peppers, ground beef and a slightly spicy kick. There are weekly specials, and on Sundays folks can stop by for a traditional dinner – $8 buys one meat, three sides, and a bread – for a real Southern style treat.
The owners have signed a one-year lease on the 4,000-square-foot space that was once home to Stenger’s Cafe. The couple has worked to refine the interior – the original bar and counter have been refinished, and the tin ceiling remains in stellar condition. There are small tables along the side wall, classic black and white tile on the floor, and a big screen television near the back of the space for friends to gather to watch sports games over food.
As Michael and Charlena get settled in to their new business in the heart of Over-the-Rhine, they are also excited about the changes that have occured in the historic neighborhood they left in 1998.
“It’s really great, what they’ve done on Vine Street,” said Daniels. “These kids around here are saying, ‘How do you know? You’re not from here!’ but we grew up right around the corner. We remember how it used to be. It’s amazing how quickly the development is moving north. I guess you don’t see it when it’s happening right before your eyes.”
At the end of the day, the duo wants to have a comfortable, reasonably priced community spot where customers will walk away completely satisfied. “It’s like I always say,” Charlena said with a smile, “when the burgers are stuffed, you are too!”
Stuffed on Vine is located at 1720 Vine Street in Over-the-Rhine. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Thursday 11am to 9pm, Fridays and Saturdays 11am to 11pm, and Sundays from 1pm to 8pm. Stuffed on Vine is cash only, and patrons are asked to call ahead for the Sunday menu at (513) 338-7657.
Stuffed on Vine photograph by UrbanCincy contributor Jake Mecklenborg.