Thomas' F&N Steakhouse (near Cincy) On The Block
Sad. I never got to go. But there's hope!
______________________Bank buys F&N restaurant
Ex-employee also made bid
By Denise Wilson
Cincinnati Post staff reporter
Cheri Lambert had notions of buying the former Thomas' F&N Steakhouse and reopening the Northern Kentucky landmark, where she worked for 7½ years as manager.
She might get that chance, because the bank that bought the Dayton, Ky., building at auction Thursday plans to resell it.
"I'm interested in keeping the place going" as a restaurant, Lambert said after Citizens Bank of Northern Kentucky made a winning bid of $89,000 to buy the 75-year-old rustic roadhouse and its parking lot.
The restaurant, which counted among its patrons professional athletes and entertainers, closed Aug. 11 after the owners filed for bankruptcy. Known for its steaks, baked potatoes and hot slaw, it was a community gathering place for decades until the opening of restaurants such as the Precinct, which displaced it in the best-steaks hierarchy.
Lambert and more than 50 other bidders and onlookers packed into the cozy steakhouse on Ky. 8 for the auction of the eatery, its parking lot and a house on the property.
The auction was conducted by Semple & Associates Inc. Auctioneers of Williamsburg, Ohio, which was appointed by U.S. Bankruptcy Court to sell the real estate, furniture, fixtures and equipment.
Michael Federle, a Newport attorney who represented Citizens Bank at the auction, said the bank, which has had a lien on the restaurant for more than a year, plans to sell the roadhouse and parking lot as a package deal.
"I was a little surprised there were not more bidders, but that's not uncommon at an auction," he said. "People now will try to contact the bank and make an offer."
It plans to close on the property within the next 30 days, then begin marketing it, he said.
Lambert, manager of F&N from 1997 to 2004, said she and her husband, Fred, still might be interested in buying it. Their final bid was $70,000.
Lambert said the restaurant has a lot of sentimental value to her because she met her husband there while she was busing tables and he was a dishwasher. They have been married for 26 years and four of their children have worked at the steakhouse.
"All the people that worked here and all of the customers were so attached to this place. It was actually very comfy here," she said.
The Taylor Mill, Ky., resident said she recently sent out 200 invitations to customers, friends and former employees of the restaurant to attend a Christmas/reunion party Monday. And she hopes some of them will share her interest in acquiring the restaurant and fixing it up.
She said good cooking and an inviting atmosphere would bring customers back.
"It's out of the way -- it's not downtown Cincinnati or down in Newport on the Levee," she said. "You have to have some reason for people to come here."
Owner Margene Grizzell said in August competition from restaurants in Newport on the Levee ultimately did in the F&N. But it also was hurt by rising meat prices, she said then. "We wouldn't lower the grade. We always had good food. And we didn't want to raise the menu prices a lot because of our location."
At the auction, Joe Brockmeyer, 45, a Dayton resident who was a busboy in 1970s, paid about $300 for 10 signs. One referred to a citation from Quest Magazine and Food and Wine Magazine that proclaimed F&N as "One of the Best Nine Prime Steak Houses in America."
Brockmeyr started working at the restaurant when he was 15 under the tutelage of owner Gene Thomas, Grizzell's father. "Gene was a great guy and he took great care of me when I was a young kid growing up."
Della Brueggen, 74, of Dayton, a server at the restaurant, came to look for mementos and to renew acquaintances with her former co-workers and customers.
"This closed so quickly that you never got to say goodbye," she said. "It was so nice to see the people you waited on; they became your friends. You just really miss seeing them."