“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.”