Maybe you’ve seen it while driving along busy Dixie Highway in Erlanger, the restaurant with the stone façade and wood siding that is distinct from the chain restaurants that dot this busy road. Maybe you’ve stopped in a time or two. If you have, or are planning to, you won’t be disappointed by the food or the service of this family-run local treasure.

The Colonial Cottage has been serving up memorable meals since it was founded by Clara Rich in 1933 during The Great Depression. Clara saw many farmers working in a local tobacco warehouse and fulfilled her dream of providing good meals for the community at an affordable price. Since then, it has been a mainstay for generations of Northern Kentuckians. Current owners Matt and Noelle Grimes (since 1999) continue that tradition and manage to stand out in the busy restaurant crowd by serving up traditional American and southern dishes driven by their genuine affection for their customers, staff and community.

What would compel someone to take on a restaurant with such a rich history? Matt Grimes says, “I needed to make a career change and we’d been living in Louisville. My in-laws in Northern Kentucky encouraged us to move back to the area. I had restaurant experience, so we bought it”.

Stepping inside, you’ll find comfy tables and an impressive stone fireplace. Staff will greet you with a smile and the daily specials could possibly convince you to stray from your favorites with choices such as barbecue country ribs, Virginia baked ham or fried chicken. In fact, the fried chicken has been named “Best of Northern Kentucky” for the last six years.

Diner Kathi Good confirms that her family is a fan of the fried chicken, “It’s moist and has a good taste. It’s not greasy like some other chicken places. Also, they do have delicious coffee!”

To top off your meal, try one of the made-from-scratch cream pies or Caiti’s Cookies, oozing with chocolate chips fresh out of the oven, and add a cup of that coffee.

On a weekday morning, the restaurant was hopping and nearly full with diners enjoying breakfasts of all sorts. The popular breakfast menu is available all day. Highlights include steak and eggs, omelets and Grandpa’s Favorite (three eggs, two pancakes, home fries and bacon or sausage). Regulars will also take note that the goetta dishes are equally divine. Owner Matt Grimes adds, “We sell more goetta than any restaurant in the state of Kentucky.” A look at the menu confirms multiple goetta options beyond breakfast fare. They’ve even been featured on The Travel Channel’s Taste of America.

Upstairs, the Colonial Cottage has a banquet room perfect for meetings and events. It caters on site and off as well.

The Colonial Cottage also hosts various events throughout the year—make sure to ask during your visit or check out the restaurant’s Facebook page.

In a world of chain restaurants, how does one compete? Matt says that, “For people who are tired of chains, independent restaurants have become popular.

“The challenge for us is encouraging people who’ve grown up just eating at chain restaurants to try something new.”

Challenge accepted.

The Colonial Cottage, 3140 Dixie Highway, Erlanger. M-Sa 6:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Su 7 am.-9 p.m. 859-341-4498.

To receive more articles from NKY Magazine sign-up for a complimentary subscription here: