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Bessie Ward Celebrates 60 Years with Izzy's

Bessie Ward Celebrates 60 Years with Izzy's

Izzy’s Employee Celebrates 60 Years with Company

Community invited to meet Bessie, 90-year-old sister-in-law of founder Izzy Kadetz

CINCINNATI, OH – After 60 years waitressing at Izzy’s restaurant in Western Hills, Bessie Ward is thinking of increasing her one day a week to two.

“I really don’t have to work, but I really enjoy it,” says Bessie, the sister-in-law of founder Izzy Kadetz, celebrating her 60th year as an employee in 2014.

To properly ring in her 60th year of hard work at Izzy’s, Bessie is making appearances at Izzy’s restaurants throughout the month of August. Customers will get a chance to meet the Cincinnati native, who will share stories about working at Izzy’s over the years, and they’ll have a chance to share their favorite memories with her as well.

“If you’re nice to people, they’re nice to you,” Bessie says of waitressing at Izzy’s. “When I walk up to somebody to take their order, if they even give me a hint of a ‘Hi,’ I can start a conversation and we talk to one another.”

A wife and stay-at-home mother to three boys, Bessie began her work at Izzy’s when the restaurant moved to Elm Street. “My sister Rose called me up and asked if I would come down. I said, ‘Rose, I don’t know anything about the restaurant business.’ She said, ‘You don’t have to do anything; just stand by me and help me.’ I went down there a couple of times with her and I never left.”

Seeing the restaurant chain evolve and grow has been “unbelievable,” Bessie says, adding: “Izzy was a grouch, but he knew what he was doing. He was on top of everything and everybody, which also made the restaurant stand out. He made sure everyone got what they wanted and were treated well. He was good at what he did, he really was. Sometimes I think we forget about being friendly to people, and I think when you go into a restaurant that’s one thing people really do like.”

The community is invited to meet Bessie and learn more about her years at Izzy’s throughout the month of August at restaurants around Greater Cincinnati. Bessie will appear at the following Izzy’s locations:

  • Forest Park from noon to 2 p.m. Aug. 4
  • West Chester from noon to 2 p.m. Aug. 13
  • Fort Wright from noon to 2 p.m. Aug. 20
  • Western Hills from 11 to 3 p.m. Aug. 29

Founded in 1901 by Izzy Kadetz, Izzy’s was the first Kosher style delicatessen west of the Alleghenies. Consistently named the “Best Deli in Cincinnati”, and known as the home of the “World’s Greatest Reuben,” Izzy’s still serves the classic homemade recipes Izzy Kadetz was handed down from his father dating back to 1901. 

Q&A with Bessie Ward:

Q: What do you like about working at Izzy’s?

A:  I like getting out of the house. I love talking to people. I like hearing new things. It’s a very nice day for me; it really is.  I like waitressing—if you’re nice to people they’re nice to you. When I walk up to somebody to take their order, if they even give me a hint of a ‘Hi,’ I can start a conversation and we talk to one another.

Q: What makes Izzy’s so special to the community?

A: I don’t think too many restaurants sell corned beef, and I don’t think a lot of young people even know what corned beef is. Once people come in, they really like our corned beef—it’s something special. And of course, they think our potato pancakes are the greatest thing on Earth. First thing they’ll do is ask, “Do we still get a pancake?”

Q: How did you start working for Izzy?

A: I was a stay-at-home mom when they moved from Central to Elm Street and they couldn’t get enough help. I worked as a salesperson at McAlpin’s and my sister called me up and asked if I would come down. I said, ‘Rose, I don’t know anything about the restaurant business.’ She said, ‘You don’t have to do anything; just stand by me and help me.’ I went down there a couple of times with her and I never left. She’d pick me up around 10 and we’d ride to work together. We’d work until 3 or so and go up the street and have a cup of coffee.


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  • “Longtime fans "love" this landmark Cincinnati deli with locations throughout the city serving "hearty", "overstuffed" sandwiches (particularly the "terrific" Reuben) along with "famous" pickles and "second-to-none" potato pancakes; although the decor reminds some of a grade-school lunchroom, it's affordable and the staff is "a hoot."

    Zagat Reviewed – 4.5 Food/ 4.4 Service

  • “Mmm, Izzys. This location is our go-to and has always had consistency friendly and quick service. I love me some pickles, goetta reuben, and potato pancake. ”

    Stacey D. ★★★

  • “I love the corned beef wraps and the Turkey wraps. Izzy's is delicious and busy weekdays at lunch. ”

    Emily C. ★★★★

  • “Came here about 3 years ago while knocking of Great American Ballpark on my list of all ballparks across America.  Hands down the best Reuben sandwich Ive ever had, and as a New Yorker I know Reuben sandwiches.  Would love to come back again in the future. ”

    Adolgo V. ★★★★★

  • “I love Izzys!!! I go to the one on Mall Road in Florence. The staff are super friendly and the food is delicious!! We love the kids eat free Saturdays as well. The only thing I dont like is that the broccoli cheese soup was taken off the menu. ”

    Macon P. ★★★★★

  • “Izzys always has good sandwiches, particularly any Reuben variation because the sauerkraut is always crisp and tart. The pickles are the real star though, and we inhale as many as possible every time we visit. The potato pancakes are unique and definitely worth a try - particularly if you are expecting something like a hash brown patty or a soft doughy cake. ”

    Paul W. ★★★★

  • “We love this place. So glad it came to Ft. Wright. My 2-yr. old loves the pickles and almost makes a meal on them alone. The reubens are great but you owe it to yourself to experiment. The Spicy Delight is awesome and worth a try. ”

    Sam B. ★★★★★

  • “Love Love Love this Hometown Favorite. Definitely on the top of my list. Cod & Izzy's pickles mmm mmm good!!!”

    Nikki W. ★★★★

  • “Absolutely fantastic pastrami Reuben on a pretzel bun!  Chicken noodle soup was fresh with Bowie pasta.  The potato pancakes were crispy pillows of heavenly goodness.  Oh, and the pickles were amazing and I dont usually like pickles!  I sure wish we had one in Toronto!! ”

    Lee M. ★★★★★

  • “Not only was the service fast but friendly. The Izzy special..on point. Thank you so much ”

    Tamilyn E. ★★★★★

  • “Was in the area shooting a wedding and wanted to eat something different then the same old stuff. Looked on Yelp and saw the great reviews so we tried it out. Food was great, staff was funny, and the price was perfect for what we got. Next time we are in Cincinnati we will have to stop by again. Give it a shot and go for the Ruben its great!”

    Tad C. ★★★★★

  • “Love this location!  My fiance does too.  Told staff was our first time and she was patient and helpful with menu suggestions and questions.  We have already been back. Tommy, Andy, Reuben all amazing. And the potato pancake is terrific!  Thanks so much for being awesome, when we were having a bad day! ”

    Jasmine C. ★★★★★