Here’s what Rick Volz, the late founder of Voltzy’s Root Beer Stand, told DDN restaurant reviewer Ann Heller in 2004

Rick Volz, founder of Voltzy's Root Beer Stand in Moraine, died Monday, Feb. 1 in Kettering Medical Center after a lengthy illness. FILE
Rick Volz, founder of Voltzy's Root Beer Stand in Moraine, died Monday, Feb. 1 in Kettering Medical Center after a lengthy illness. FILE

`See the guy over there? He used to weigh 380 pounds. Look how much weight he’s lost eating at Voltzy’s.’

More than 16 years ago, Rick Volz told former Dayton Daily News food editor and restaurant critic Ann Heller that his Voltzy’s Root Beer Stand in Moraine was the “only Mobil six-star diner in the country.”

And he was just getting warmed up.

The announcement Monday that Volz, the beloved founder of the burger-and-soup joint in Moraine, had died at Kettering Medical Center after a long illness prompted an outpouring of tributes and memories on the carryout restaurant’s Facebook page. Volz had operated the Moraine carryout restaurant for more than 30 years. It has been located at 4668 Springboro Pike for more than a decade, after having moved from its original trailer location at 3578 Kettering Blvd.

ExplorePHOTOS: Rick Volz and some of the legendary burgers of Voltzy's Root Beer Stand fame

Heller — who herself built a loyal following of Dayton-area foodies during her long tenure of writing about food and restaurants for the DDN — wrote a review of sorts of Voltzy’s in June of 2004.

Under a headline of “Voltzy’s serves up a side of humor with its ‘six-star’ fare,” here’s what Heller had to say about the larger-than-life Rick Volz and some of his famous menu items, including what was then a $29, nine-pound burger. Foodies will note her reference to Anne Kearney and Tom Sand, who returned to their hometown of Dayton from New Orleans, where they had operated a critically acclaimed restaurant, and went on to found the former Rue Dumaine in Washington Twp.:

“On vacation I was eating at Peristyle, one of the top restaurants in New Orleans. It is owned and operated by Anne Kearney, a chef and a Dayton native, and her husband, Tom Sand. She has been named a top chef in the country by the James Beard Association, Food & Wine magazine and Wine Spectator. Her restaurant is the kind of place that serves sweetbreads wrapped in prosciutto and foie gras with a tracing of balsamic black-pepper syrup. Knowing the Dayton connection, I asked Tom Sand where they eat when they come back to visit family.

“I like the Pine Club,” Sands answered. “And Voltzy’s.”

‘You mean Voltzy’s the Wiener the World Awaited?’ I asked, paraphrasing the logo that used to be on Voltzy’s menu. Yes, that’s the one. And, he said, he took his wife there the last time they visited Dayton. She had Voltzy’s special.

Voltzy’s is in a trailer permanently parked on Kettering Boulevard in Moraine. It’s known for its 20-, 40- and 60-ounce burgers — and the bawdy humor of the entrepreneur, Rick Volz . His place is only open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. And, regulars say, you’ll be very lucky if he will make you a sandwich at 2 p.m. The golf courses call.

It has been years since a friend took me to Voltzy’s, but when I came back from New Orleans I had to try the ‘special’ that Kearney had. So I stood at the trailer window and ate what he remembered she had: a Double Voltzy of two hamburger patties, ham, grilled onions and cheese. And listened to his wind-up spiel.

‘See the guy over there? He used to weigh 380 pounds. Look how much weight he’s lost eating at Voltzy’s,’ says Volz, who dismisses any grease in the sandwiches by saying ‘it’s all the calories slipping out.’

The men standing at the window still laugh at the time-worn lines. They come as much for the banter as the burgers. Repeated ritually, it provides a sense of continuity in an unsure world. He greets newcomers with good-humored insults, but not all take it well. One businessmen with a stiff upper lip stalked away offended and was ordered back by his boss, who was a loyal customer.

‘We became good friends,’ says Volz, and the man has hired him to cater a daughter’s graduation party in Michigan next year.

The stand has been in operation 14 years, but Volz made his name with the Bill Clinton Divorce Special, a nine-pound wonder with 6 1/2 pounds of hamburger, a pound of onions and 20 slices of cheese between the buns. He calls it the Birthday Cheeseburger Cake.

‘Just put candles on it instead of Sara Lee,’ he says. It costs $29 and is meant for five men. He sold 165 last year.

There’s more than burgers at Voltzy’s. Sandwiches range from Italian sausage to grilled bologna, with sweet slaw dogs available on Friday and Saturday.

And he even has a seasonal menu. In the winter, he erects a plywood shield around the trailer windows, with enough space for 10 customers standing with sandwiches in hand. That’s when he features novelties such as a cabbage roll sub and daily soups — cabbage roll soup, Cream of `Vandalia’ (Vidalia) onion, chicken tortilla soup and even a cheeseburger soup — a cheese soup that includes hamburger and diced onion. Some soups he makes just once a season.

In typical exaggeration, he finishes up the recitation with the pronouncement that ‘We’re the only Mobil six-star diner in the country.’

Well, it was good enough for Mobil three-star chef Anne Kearney. It’s good enough for me — though I’d like provolone instead of what tastes like American cheese on my Double Voltzy.”

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