GREEN BAY - The moment you walk through the door at Chili John's Restaurant, the smell of the spice slightly stings your nose and ladles of what many would call "legendary" chili are served up for long-time customers from all walks of life.
The restaurant on Green Bay's Military Avenue belongs to Dan Hoehne.
"You can have a policeman sitting next to someone who drives truck for a living, sitting next to the bishop," said Hoehne.
Hoehne's grandfather John Isaac opened the first Chili John's Restaurant in 1913, at the foot of Green Bay's Main St. bridge.
"John's favorite thing to make when he was cooking at home was chili -- and of course then, chili was chili con carne which is just spiced meat and beans," said Hoehne.
While many would never dare put noodles in their chili, John did.
"His idea was to introduce spaghetti so he could stretch the cost of the meal during the Depression for when people didn't have a lot of money," said Hoehne. "Not only did it have to taste good, it had to stick with you."
Chili John's Restaurant celebrated 100 years of business in April and the recipe is still sticking with customers.
However, many say it's not just the chili that keeps them coming back. Many say the commitment by Chili John's family to keep the business in the community where it all began is making a difference.
"They provide a grounding," said Andrew Utrie, who's been eating at Chili John's Restaurant since 1992. "People like the familiarity of faces on the food and it's just a hometown-type feeling."
Chili John's family says it's been a recipe for success 100 years in the making, and they hope to continue for many more to come.
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