By Chris Mayhew
The Cincinnati Enquirer
COVINGTON - The "captain" of the Anchor Grill, Morton B. Chapman, died Wednesday at his home. He was 91.
His daughter, Carolyn Chapman of Covington, says the grill will stay open for now, but its future is uncertain.
To honor the captain, the restaurant with the neon sign reading "We may doze, but we never close," will lock the door from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today.
Open 24 hours a day except for Christmas and New Year's days, it will be the first non-holiday on which the restaurant has closed since Mr. Chapman's wife, Virginia, died in 1996.
With his wife, Mr. Chapman owned and operated the Covington institution at Pike and Main streets for 57 years.
Though for the past five years he was legally blind because of diabetes, he could be found doing the dishes in the kitchen almost every day until three weeks ago, said his daughter. For many years, he took care of maintenance, especially the refrigeration and plumbing.
Mr. Chapman and his wife shared a love for children, and while they were there, the needy never went away hungry. "He was a very kind, gentle man, very big-hearted," his daughter said.
Though he was never in the Navy, many of his relatives were, and it was where the grill got its name, said his daughter.
While enjoying anything from goetta to a burger, patrons could expect to hear Patsy Cline on the jukebox at almost any hour.
"We called him the captain because he liked it," said Sarah Moscoe, a server for 18 years. "This was his ship right here."
Moscoe said he was the best boss anyone could ask for, and when things got busy he pitched in and cleared tables along with the staff.
Mr. Chapman owned several boats, some built of mahogany, said his nephew, Ken Unkraut, who helps with the restaurant.
"He loved the river and boats, and we would take him down to the river once every week and look at the boats," Unkraut said. "He just loved water."
Born in Russell, Ky., Mr. Chapman was a 33rd-Degree Mason with the Scottish Rite Valley of Covington, and was a member of the Syrian Temple in Cincinnati.
Service will be 10:30 a.m. today at Don Catchen & Son Funeral Home in Elsmere. Burial will be in Highland Cemetery in Fort Mitchell.
Memorials: Shriners Hospitals for Children, 3229 Burnet Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45229.
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