HISTORY OF THE MONKEY BAR & GRILLE
In 1841, when James Foster settled along the east side of the Little Miami River, he built a mill and a hotel including a tavern. This hotel and tavern was called the Twenty Two Mile Stand, also known as Foster’s Inn or Foster’s Hotel. Originally the hotel was three stories and included an addition on the back side, closer to the river, to allow for more guests.
During the 1913 flood, the brick portion of the building was majorly damaged by a log and the addition was unsalvageable, due to water damage. The main brick portion of the building was repaired and remained Foster’s Hotel. In 1892, the building was sold to Earl Maag’s aunt, Theresa Englert. During Theresa’s period of ownership, the building was a summer resort. People would travel to Foster from Cincinnati on the Little Miami Railroad for the weekend. On Sundays at 8pm, visitors would return back to Cincinnati for the week. The Foster Hotel was the perfect getaway with 14 rooms in the house and the reputation of excellent food. Chicken dinners were the speciality. Theresa operated the hotel until 1907.
In 1934 the building changed names to The Blue Danube. It was known as The Blue Danube until 1975, when Joe Roy Harris purchased the tavern.
In October 1975, the Blue Danube became The Train Stop Inn.
In December of 1975, the Train Stop Inn broke out in flames. The cause of the fire was due to kerosene being thrown on the fire to make the wood burn better. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured.
Unfortunately, the Train Stop Inn burned down again in 1979. By this time the building had changed hands again; to Ken Harris, Joe Roy Harris’s brother. Ken Harris vowed that the building would never burn down again. He reconstructed the building out of brick, rock, and concrete, to ensure his promise.
Harris must have done a good job because the building has been standing strong ever since. Check out the reconstruction pictures below.
Harris included little trinkets in the construction of the new building. If you walk around the outside of the building, you may be able to find some of them. There are two revolvers built in to the stone on the north side of the building. There is also a tiki statue on the same side. If you look on the east side of the building, you will find a small replica of Mount Rushmore with the Liberty Bell above it, as well as a railroad spike above the east side, upstairs door.
After The Train Stop Inn was rebuilt, it remained a local watering hole. The tavern was a popular spot for local biker groups and citizens of the area. They were known for their delicious food including fish sandwiches, BLTs, and sirloin burgers. In 1985, when Ken Harris purchased a Chimpanzee named Sam, The Train Stop Inn gained the nickname “The Monkey Bar,” due to Sam’s enclosure outside the bar. You can learn more about Sam by clicking here. After the controversial trial that ended in a settlement in 1988, people continued to know the building as “The Monkey Bar,” even though Sam was relocated to an unknown location.
Kenny Harris owned The Train Stop Inn until 2013, when he passed. His son, McKinley Harris took over ownership and owned The Train Stop Inn until 2016, when Mark and Amy Altemeier purchased the building.
The Altemeiers are the force behind the improvements that have made the Monkey Bar & Grille what it is today.