“It may be cold outside, but it’s chili in here,” could be the advertising hook for Hollingsworth’s Chili House and Diner just west of Campbellsburg.
The Hollingsworths are passionate about chili. Owners Marcia and Millard Hollingsworth, of Owen County, said they have have tweaked and perfected their family heirloom recipes so they can offer two distinct types of chili. Both, naturally, are made from scratch. “All our chili is made in our kitchen,” Millard Hollingsworth said.
Son Michael explained the differences.
“Most people don’t know how to eat a three-or four-way chili,” Michael Hollingsworth said, noting the cheese is not only for flavoring. “The cheese holds it together,” he said. “You cut into it like a piece of cake, keep it layered.
“We’ll start with the northern style,” he said.
Michael Hollingsworth said it begins with finely processed beef. “The beef is put in with chili flavoring,” he said, “that thickens into sauce.” Customers can order it as a Coney (Coney Island style hot dog with chili) and get it three-way - chili, spaghetti and cheese, four-way - all that plus onions, or five-way - all that plus onions and beans. “You have a massive bowl if you want chili spaghetti,” Michael Hollingsworth said.
Millard Hollingsworth said the northern style contains no tomato or pepper seeds. “A lot of people can’t eat seeds,” he said.
Michael Hollingsworth said Hollingsworth Chili is a recipe Marcia learned from her mother. “It’s a soup-style chili served in a bowl,” he said. “It already has onions, beans and mango peppers in it.” The beef is chunkier and it is made with more tomatoes. “A lot of the tomatoes we get out of our garden,” Michael Hollingsworth said. “They come into the chili cooked but not changed.” Millard Hollingsworth said the mangos (green peppers) are what makes the chili special. “We get a lot of requests for it on our cheese fries.”
Chili dishes run from $3.95 up to about $5.
The Hollingsworths said they grow more than an acre of vegetables in their home garden.
Many homegrown vegetables are served with Sunday dinners available for $6.75 at Hollingsworth’s. “The peas, green beans and tomatoes are all homegrown,” Marcia Hollingsworth said. She said some of the rotating menu hot plate dinners are ham with homemade potato or macaroni salad, turkey with all the trimmings, meatloaf, chicken and dumplings and pan-fried pork chops.
Marcia Hollingsworth said she tried three different cooking methods before settling on pan frying the pork chops. “I used customers as my guinea pigs,” she said, “and they picked pan-fried hands down.”
She said the burgers also are a big hit. “We’ve gotten rave reviews on the chili, cheeseburgers and double cheeseburgers,” Marcia Hollingsworth said. Michael Hollingsworth said a repeat customer drives from La Grange at least once weekly for a cheeseburger. “It’s about six to eight inches tall by the time it’s dressed,” he said. “We don’t hold back on the trimmings,” Marcia Hollingsworth said.
Breakfasts also are stick-to-the-ribs fare - eggs, bacon or sausage, and biscuits and homemade gravy. Breakfast items are served al a carte priced between 75 cents and $1.95. “The cherries in the cherry jelly were picked right off our trees,” Michael Hollingsworth said.
Besides burgers and chili dog variations from $1.50 to $4, Hollingsworth’s offers grilled or pimento cheese for $1.25, peanut butter for 75 cents, and $2.45 for BLT sandwiches. “We’re adding chicken sandwiches, chicken nuggets and hand-breaded onion rings soon,” Marcia Hollingsworth said.
Millard Hollingsworth said when they opened October 1 their intention was to stick to chili. “We were going to make it straight chili, but people asked for more.” “The menu doubled within two weeks,” Michael Hollingsworth said.
The Hollingsworths said they hope to expand the ten table facility to eventually include a buffet service, but for right now the family is content to ladle out the family chili.
Michael Hollingsworth said he always thought they should share the family recipes with the rest of the world.
“This is a meal I’ve lived off,” Michael Hollingsworth said. “We’d have a pot of chili, then the day after chili spaghetti. I have no regrets.”
Hollingsworth’s is a non-smoking restaurant and the restrooms are handicapped accessible. The “A” rating on the front door gives testament to the clean, cheery dining space inside. “We’ve tried to make this a positive place to be,” Michael Hollingsworth said.
Hollingsworth’s Chili House and Diner is located on U.S. 421 at I-71 Exit 34, Campbellsburg. Winter hours are Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. except Wednesday when they close at 7 p.m. Sunday hours are 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Patrons may dine-in, carry-out or call-in an order for pick-up. The phone number is (502) 532-0888.
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