Bob Wilhelmy

Bob Wilhelmy

“There must have been some magic in that old silk hat they found” are lyrics of the late Walter E. Rollins, who wrote “Frosty the Snowman” in 1950. 

So too with copper kettles, according to John Geisen, CEO of Izzy’s, home of a corned beef recipe that’s almost as old as Frosty. For Geisen, the magic is in the copper kettles his eateries use in cooking the corned beef featured in several sandwiches the shops offer.

Izzy’s CEO John Geisen at a copper kettle where the corned beef is cooked.

Izzy’s CEO John Geisen at a copper kettle where the corned beef is cooked.


“We use the copper kettles to cook our corned beef, which is special and is really a proprietary recipe that only Izzy’s has. The copper gives the corned beef a taste profile that really is good, really is flavorful and unique to us (at Izzy’s), and we use the kettles to cook the beef brisket at every location. We’ve been doing the corned beef the same way for a long time, and the supplier of the beef has been doing business with Izzy’s since 1959,” Geisen said. 

That supplier is in Chicago, and every week there is fresh brisket, several tons of it, shipped to Izzy’s restaurants in Cincinnati.

“It’s fresh, and with that kind of volume, you know it’s fresh when you order one of our world-famous Reuben sandwiches or a corned beef on rye,” he said. 

The pickling spices are the proprietary part of the corned beef story at Izzy’s. From research, I’ve found that the spices are pretty much the same for pickling the beef – namely, mustard seed, whole allspice, coriander seeds, whole cloves, ground ginger, crushed red-pepper flakes, crumbled bay leaf and a cinnamon stick or two. It’s the proportions of each spice that make the difference in the flavor profile. Izzy’s has been using the same proprietary mix and measure of these spices for several generations now. 

Geisen said that his corned beef flavor profile is the combination of the quality beef, the proprietary spice mix and the copper kettles. Together, they make for Izzy’s special “brand” of corned beef. 

“Nobody else has the corned beef we offer our customers at Izzy’s, and that is why our sandwiches are so good,” he said. “People love our corned beef and the reason is all the steps we take to make it special.”

With all of that, there is still more to the corned beef story at Izzy’s. Did you know that brisket features a deckle? Me neither. The deckle is the fat cap that covers the beef. Most often, brisket goes into the boiling pot deckle intact. Not at Izzy’s. 

“People like lean meats and eating healthy, and for years now, we have been trimming our briskets, cutting off what is referred to as the nose of the brisket, the cap of it, and that way we get an ideal marbling of the brisket, just like you get in a fine steak, and the meat is good and lean and tasty,” Geisen said. “It is a step we take that gives us a perfect balance of flavor for the corned beef. It is simply delicious, and again, that step (of cutting off the deckle) separates our corned beef and makes it special and especially good.” 

A corned beef on rye served with potato pancake and pickles.

A corned beef on rye served with potato pancake and pickles.


That is what goes into making corned beef at Izzy’s. What comes out of the process are sandwiches  – stuffed, large sandwiches. I agree with Geisen, it’s really good corned beef. I enjoyed this very sandwich recently; simply corned beef on rye with mustard. I’m betting if you like corned beef, you will love this sandwich. The corned beef flavor is front and center. And it is special, mild and tasty, lean and tender. Mr. Kadetz, who started the restaurant in the early 1900s, would be proud, were he here to bite into this corned beef sandwich or one of his classic Reubens. 

Geisen is proud of the legacy too: “Our staples are the excellent corned beef and the Reuben sandwiches, which is what we are known for. And, of course, over the years we’ve added a little something for everyone. We have the chicken salad, the egg salad and the tuna salad, all white-meat chunks on the chicken, and all albacore in the tuna salad; we have the burgers, really good hamburgers for people who want that type of sandwich instead of our classic deli sandwiches; wraps; you name it. It’s the variety and the quality that keeps people coming back.”

For Jewish diners wanting to eat kosher style, it’s a good practice to look at each meat sandwich, since many of them feature cheese. But Izzy’s sandwiches are made to order, so your sandwich may be made sans cheese if you ask. 

Also, as mentioned before, Izzy’s sandwiches are mammoth, but you can order a half in most cases. In addition, Izzy’s offers many sandwiches on its signature rye bread, but you can order the sandwich to your liking with white or wheat breads, telera rolls, brioche buns or pretzel rolls.

See you at Izzy’s!

Izzy’s locations:

610 Main St. 

Cincinnati, Ohio, 45202


800 Elm St. 

Cincinnati, Ohio, 45202


7625 Beechmont Ave. 

Cincinnati, Ohio, 45255


1198 Smiley Ave. 

Forest Park, Ohio, 45240


4766 Red Bank Expressway

Madisonville, Ohio, 45227


5098 Glencrossing Way 

Western Hills, Ohio, 45238


8179 Princeton-Glen Road 

West Chester, Ohio, 45069


7905 Mall Road 

Florence, Kentucky, 41042


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