7 family-owned restaurants where you can eat local in Middletown

Energized by a revitalized downtown, Middletown is offering more eating options for its residents and out-of-town visitors.

Here’s a look at 7 family-owned restaurants you may want to try in the city:

MORE: Here’s what YOU voted the best of Middletown

Triple Moon Cafe

Long before actor/producer Ron Howard ordered a “Bad Hunter,” a vegetarian sandwich, at Triple Moon while visiting Middletown, locals flocked there for its sandwiches, soups and coffee.

Heather Gibson opened Triple Moon, 1100 Central Ave., in 2015 at the corner of Central Avenue and Broad Street, in a location that has buried dreams of other business owners. Triple Moon continues to grow and Gibson recently remodeled the inside of the restaurant to make room for more chairs.

Triple Moon offers chicken and egg salad sandwiches, vegetable wraps and Italian subs, free WiFi and a conference room that seats 30.


Located at 1131 Central Ave., Gracie’s is a key part of an effort launched by Ami Vitori to create a “destination corner” for dining, retail and entertainment.

Gracie’s offers a diverse menu, nightly specials and full bar.

Vitori’s grandparents owned a grocery store Vitori’s Market, which was started by her great-grandfather and lasted 80 years until 2006, but because her grandmother Gracie Vitori worked up front “everyone called it ‘Gracie’s.’”

MORE: 5 things to know about Gracie’s, downtown Middletown’s newest restaurant

The Swire Inn

Located at 64 S. Main St., The Swire Inn features sandwiches, pot roast, Chicken & Waffles, Fish & Chips, Bourbon Salmon and Shepherd’s Pie, and wine, beer and cocktails.

The building in which the Swire Inn is located was constructed in 1861. Owner John Langhorne renovated the restaurant’s formerly run-down interior, adding a brick and wood decor aimed at evoking a sense of cozy, comfortable warmth.

Combs Bar-B-Q Central

Voted as the “Best Hidden Gem” in Middletown, this barbecue is one of the favorite lunch spots for locals.

The business is owned by Keith Combs and managed by his son, Chris.

The interior of the 1,500-square-foot building resembles a restaurant you may see in Nashville. Musical memorabilia hangs on the walls and about every inch of the place is covered with items that Keith Combs has collected over the years. A phone booth sits in the corner and the sign reads, “Cell phone booth.”

MORE: New BBQ eatery coming to Middletown

The Jug

Opening in 1932, The Jug is one of Butler County’s oldest eateries. It’s known for its Jug Burger, french fries and root beer.

The hamburger stand/drive-in got its start on South Main Street in 1932 thanks to former Middletown Journal publisher Bert Lawler, who opened the current location at 3610 Central Ave. in 1939.

Middletown has changed a great deal during that time, but the business remains essentially unchanged.

Bourbon’s Craft Kitchen & Bar

Located at 2231 N. Verity Parkway, Bourbon’s features “gourmet street food” such as steak burgers, broasted boneless wings, hot dogs and fresh guacamole.

Among the eight different hot dogs is a “Grippo’s Dog,” which comes in a Stout bun and is topped by Muenster cheese, bourbon-smoked hickory bacon, homemade cole slaw, a malt vinegar sauce and crushed Grippo’s potato chips.

There’s also “endless bourbon of all kinds” — 40, by our count — plus wine, craft beer and a full bar complete with craft cocktails.

The Slice

Cooked in stone ovens, pizza is available by the slice or by the pie. Located at 1300 Central Ave., the Slice is a full restaurant and bar. On the menu are pizza, chicken wings, Italian sausage hoagies, steak hoagies, chicken hoagies and salads and appetizers like garlic knots, french bread pizza and cheese sticks.

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