Monday, August 21, 2000

West-side landmark serves last meal




By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Longtime patrons of Westwood's Window Garden sat down to a leisurely meal for the last time Sunday.

        Then, as the sun set, another Cincinnati landmark closed.

        “I'm very disappointed,” said Andrew Hitz of Westwood, who shared a final brunch with 92-year-old mother Charlotte. “I can't say enough good things about it. It's almost like a family here — an extended family.”

        The Hitzes have been patrons since the early 1970s.

        The Window Garden, 3077 Harrison Ave., opened in 1937 just after the Great Flood.

        Dave Pavlik, the third and final owner, said it was time to move on.

        “This type of restaurant has become out of favor,” he lamented after 27 years.

        “This type” is a home- style restaurant serving sauerbraten, roast pork and fish to aging diners.

        “While we can exist, we can't prosper as in the old days,” he said.

        Window Garden was known for its leisurely dining, uncommon and even unpopular in this fast-food era.

        Further, Window Garden's neighborhood is changing. The nearby car dealer, beauty shops and banks have left for suburbia, Mr. Pavlik said, and the former Westwood Cinema became Western Hills Honda-Yamaha after several failed attempts to remain a movie house.

        Mr. Pavlik, who hasn't chosen his next career, said his children were not interested in taking over.

        Hardest will be leaving be hind the patrons, he said.

        The good economy made closing easier because he was confident his 25 full- and part-time employees could find other jobs. Mr. Pavlik said at least five restaurants have asked him to post their openings for workers.

        Head chef Leola Gill, who has worked at the Window Garden for 34 years, said she's had several calls.

        For patron Stephanie Wolf of Harwood, Md., there will be the rich memories of the food and ambiance.

        “I used to come in with my grandmother, my mom and my sister,” she said during a visit to Cincinnati. Ms. Wolf stopped to get Ms. Gill's autograph on a menu.

        As she spoke, Ms. Hitz and her son walked by. Mr. Pavlik stood to hug her, and he whispered, “Please don't cry.”

       



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