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About Us

In 1922, brothers Tom and John Kiradjieff, Macedonian immigrants, began ladling their seasoned meat sauce to theatre patrons and performers out of a small shop next to the Empress Theatre in downtown Cincinnati. Both the Empress name and its legendary chili caught on. True to its roots, Empress Chili is still family owned and continues to serve its original recipe chili, complete with the finest quality beef, the same blend of secret spices, and absolutely no preservatives. Jim Papakirk, who succeeds the original founding family, states, “Empress’ unique recipe and blend of spices gave birth not only to Cincinnati-style chili, but to a foodie fascination throughout the country. Generations of Cincinnatians and visitors alike have grown to love (and crave) Empress Chili, whether on a classic cheese coney or a three way.” It is said that there are over 150 chili parlors in Greater Cincinnati alone. While there will always be lively discussion about whose chili is spicier or meatier, there can be no debate that it all started with Empress Chili – “the First Edition of a Cincinnati tradition.”