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Herb & Thelma’s Tavern, a fixture on Pike Street, will celebrate its 80th anniversary on May 18


In 1939, there were more than 100 cafes, more commonly known as taverns or bars, listed in the business directory for the City of Covington. One of them was a new establishment owned by Henry “Heine” Boehmker located on the south end of Pike Street in the Lewisburg neighborhood.

Heine Boehmker and wife, Marie, 1930s (Photo provided)

Heine’s Cafe, as it was known at that time, is still in business. It’s been Herb & Thelma’s Tavern since 1965 and the current owners will celebrate its 80th anniversary as a Covington hot spot this month.

“This has to be one of the longest lasting businesses in the city and we want to do something special to commemorate that,” said Joe Fessler, who has owned the tavern since 2015. “When you think about the generations of people who have enjoyed themselves here over the last 80 years, it’s overwhelming.”

The anniversary celebration will take place from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, May 18 at the tavern located at the corner of Pike Street and Western Avenue in Covington. There will be no admission and free parking will be available in the Be Concerned lot on Pike Street across from the tavern.

Fessler plans to have an outdoor beer garden that will feature one of Cincinnati’s most popular beers from long ago.

Greg Hardman, owner of Christian Moerlein Brewing Company in Cincinnati, has agreed to provide kegs of Schoenling Lager Beer to be part of the festivities. A commemorative beer glass and t-shirt are also being created for the event.

Herb and Thelma Boehmker, around 1950 (Photo provided)

Schoenling first went on the market in the 1930s after the end of Prohibition. The brewing company merged with Hudepohl in 1986 and 10 years later it was sold to Boston Beer.

“Schoenling Lager Beer and Heine’s Cafe came on the local scene about the same time in the 1930s, so this is a perfect way to recreate some history for both,” said Hardman.

The neighborhood bar and restaurant was a family-owned business for more than 75 years. It became Herb & Thelma’s Tavern in 1965 when the original owner’s son and his wife took over. They passed ownership of the bar down to their son, Chip, who retired in 2012.

Joe and Suzanne Fessler became owners in 2015. They expanded the menu and beer selections, but they didn’t change the name of the popular establishment.

“Herb & Thelma’s Tavern has become a local icon,” Joe Fessler said. “It’s built a great reputation as a place to eat and drink and enjoy yourself. And that’s what we’ll be celebrating on May 18.”

Herb & Thelma’s Tavern

Heine and Herb Boehmker, 1950s (Photo provided)


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3 Comments

  1. Eileen Kroger Murphy says:

    Nice article. I appreciate reading about the old neighborhood. Congratulations to Herb and Thelma’s. It’s a great place.

  2. Denise Dorger Phillips says:

    I remember when I was a little kid in the early 60’s Herb Boehmker was the custodian at St Agnes school in Park Hills. He was also my school bus driver. What a nice man. I was sad when he left his job to open Herb and Thelma’s. Glad to hear it’s going strong.

  3. Cheryl Lay says:

    I lived across the street when I was little. My dad delivered beer there. When my brother comes into town, we always go there for their famous burgers. Love it!

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