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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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  • “Recently got a couple sandwiches to go from Izzys after hearing about how good it is. I REALLY enjoyed the Turkey Reuben, and loved the fact that they purposely include a small container of their delicious pickles and thousand island dressing. It also came with a giant and deliciously chewy potato pancake! The staff was quick, and the sandwiches were put together just right. ”

    Shannon D. ★★★★

  • “I love this place. It is so yummy. ”

    Jacklyn W. ★★★★★

  • “2nd time to dine at Izzys.  THIS PLACE IS OFF THE CHAIN!  The "Famous Reuben" is amazing!  This place is a MUST STOP when in the Florence area. The service was good and my beverage stayed full - even brought a to go cup without asking. ”

    Philip S. ★★★★★

  • “Has the best reuben of my life (thus far)!!  Nothing fancy about this joint - very laid back and casual.  Staff was friendly and I could tell that they have a lot of regulars that come in for lunch.  I ordered a reuben and fell in LOVE!  Not greasy, not soggy, lots of awesome corned beef and sauerkraut, and the bread was super fresh. Izzys is on our list of places to eat when we are in Cincy.   Top 3 for sure! ”

    Melissa D. ★★★★

  • “Had some quests from Columbus area and Andrian, MI and wanted to take them to a "local" restaurant. My grandson and I decided Izzy's in Forest Park was the choice. They LOVED it. First the delicious pickles and then the famous Ruben and potato pancake. The waitress was great, very friendly and we enjoyed her conversation with our questions. They were very impressed with the food and her. I wish I knew her name but she was the only waitress there. Then even bought a jar of pickles to take home.”

    Glyn H. ★★★★★

  • “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. ★★★★★

  • “If you love good old fashioned corned beef (and a variety of things related to it) you can't go wrong with Izzy's. Awesome potato pancakes and their pickles are my favorite anywhere. They even have some really good vegetarian options.”

    Meta S. ★★★★★

  • “Mmm Reubens! I come here for a quick lunch and they are super friendly and prompt. I like to get the reuben salad. It is quite large and a very cool take on the traditional sandwich. It is jam packed with "good" lettuce, sauerkraut, grated swiss cheese, corned beef, chopped pickles, and topped with their homemade thousand island dressing. The cool finishing touch is rye bread croutons which seem to be homemade. They also have good sweet tea! ”

    Heather L ★★★★

  • “Amazing!!! My second day coming back for lunch. Both corned beef and pastrami. Potato pancakes are delicious with a bit of green onion. Must, must stop if you are even close!!! Great service. ”

    Max M ★★★★★

  • “My Sister brought me a Rueben from there & it was phenomenal & the potato pancakes are out of this world!! I only wish that there was an Izzys here in Buffalo, NY. ”

    Dave S. ★★★★★

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

    Emily C. ★★★★

  • “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. ★★★★