According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 15,106 people moved to Manatee County between 2012 and 2016, 1,087 of them from the same state: Ohio. That makes the Buckeye State one of the top migration feeders to Manatee. It also helps explain why Amy Groene, Joan Zai and Susan Wiegele opened a Skyline Chili franchise in Lakewood Ranch earlier this year.
Skyline is a revered Cincinnati institution dating back to 1949, when Greek native Nicholas Lambrinides opened the original location in a spot overlooking the Queen City’s downtown. Made from a closely guarded recipe, Skyline’s chili is creamy rather than chunky, with a subtle spice, and it’s the key ingredient in almost everything the restaurant offers.
You can order a cheese coney ($2.49), a hot dog in a steamed bun slathered with mustard, diced onions, cheddar cheese and a helping of chili. Or you can order one of the restaurant’s “ways,” pasta dishes that run from $5.99 to $8.99. A three-way features spaghetti covered with chili and cheddar. A four-way adds either beans or onions and a five-way includes beans and onions. A regular-size five-way looks small on the plate, but it will fill you up in a hurry, with a mound of noodles and an avalanche of cheddar shredded into fine strands.
Skyline qualifies as fast food thanks to the kitchen’s quick work and the drive-through, but eating inside offers affable, speedy table service, plus a glimpse at the afternoon ballgame on three televisions. Who’s playing? The Reds, of course.