Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

‘America’s Best Restaurants’ to feature The Chalice

Kelly Hueckman / Advance-Titan —Owner Joe Ambrose’s family dines at The Chalice while “America’s Best Restaurants” films on Tuesday.

One of Oshkosh’s most iconic restaurants, The Chalice, will be featured on an upcoming episode of “America’s Best Restaurants” after being filmed on Tuesday.

“We obviously hope to gain recognition around the area,” owner Joe Ambrose said. “This place has always been well-known around Oshkosh, but there’s still new people every week, every day that come in who don’t know about us.”

Ambrose, an Oshkosh native and UWO alumnus, started working at The Chalice when he was 15. Now, he’s been the owner for over three years.

He said he worked through-out high school and college, and though he explored other career options, he always came back.

“I went through high school and college working here and then when I got done with college I tried things with my degree, but I always kept time here,” he said. “From there, with jobs that didn’t work out I always had this as a backup plan. I never thought I could be the owner.”

Just because Ambrose had the experience at The Chalice doesn’t mean that taking over was smooth sailing, though.

As Ambrose assumed his new role as owner, COVID-19 hit restaurants in a way no one had experienced before.

“I took over about six weeks before COVID shut everything down, so that was a big learning experience for me,” he said “I mean, I was closed and I didn’t know what to do.”

However, people’s time away from The Chalice left them wanting it even more; business was exceptional after social distancing laws were lifted,  Ambrose said.

“We opened back up from COVID, and it just boomed from there,” he said.

Ambrose said it’s The Chalice’s welcoming environment, iconic menu and friendly staff that keeps customers coming.

“We try to keep the roots the same as from back in 1977; a lot of the things that were on the menu back then are still on the menu now,” he said. “We pride ourselves on good service, good food and a good drink and a nice, warm, cozy atmosphere.

What truly sets the restaurant apart from others in the area is that not a single deep fryer is found at The Chalice.

“One thing that really stands out to people is that we don’t have deep fryers,” Ambrose said. “We make mostly everything from scratch.”

Instead of being dunked in grease, all of the food at The Chalice is grilled to order.

“All of our food comes off of a six-foot flat top grill,” Ambrose said. “That’s kind of the thing that stands out the most, because it’s not greasy deep fried food.”

Cindy Smitz, who dines at The Chalice every Wednesday with her mother, said Ambrose has created a space customers keep wanting to come back to.

“It always had the same charm, but since he took over, the friendliness and the service are phenomenal, and the drink specials and food specials are all fabulous,” she said.

Smitz said that although there are many guests rotating through The Chalice, she’s always treated kindly.

“It’s kind of like ‘Cheers,’ where everyone knows your name,” she said. “You come in and they say ‘Hello, ladies!’ and whisk you away to sit down at the table. We don’t even order (our drinks). They just bring it to us; they just know.”

Jackie McDorman, who was serving Smitz, said working at The Chalice is equally as enjoyable.

“It’s fun,” she said. “It’s the Camelot of restaurants to work at.”

Jackie Challice, a guest who is coined as “The Chalice’s first customer,” said she has been dining at the restaurant for 46 years.

As for what kept her coming back?

“The people,” she said. Challice said that although The Chalice is well-known in Oshkosh, having the restaurant featured on “America’s Best Restaurants” could help bring in business from other areas.

“The whole town knows about it, but being on the show, you might get people from out of town,” she said.

Ambrose said reaching people who have never heard of The Chalice before is his biggest hope for the “America’s Best Restaurants” episode.

The air date for the “America’s Best Restaurants” feature on The Chalice will be announced on the “America’s Best Restaurants” Facebook page and on their website at

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