(Note: My apologies for the poor photo quality in this review. I was caught off guard with an unexpected stop for breakfast, and didn’t have my regular camera available, thus was forced to use a borrowed, dinosaur of a cell phone for photos.)
Sometimes, you just want a simple breakfast. Sometimes you just want to find a simple diner, that can serve up a reliable and filling meal to help you begin your day. It seems like most small towns have them…those “old standby” places you can go to get a hot cup of diner coffee and some eggs. It doesn’t have to be grand or glamorous. In fact, most folks in town wouldn’t know what to do in one of those places. All they want is a small, cozy spot where their regular waitress is expecting to see them and she has their regular booth waiting. Places like Canal Wigwam are a social treasure to their community, and a sort of welcoming center for those passing through and looking to refuel.
Canal Wigwam has been in continuous service since 1899, and although it has obviously changed ownership several times throughout the years, it’s a Canal Winchester landmark, and everybody knows that when you want a good morning meal, you head to the Wigwam. “Wigwam”, in Native American, means a community place or a gathering place, and that suits this diner just fine.
Inside is a hodgepodge of styles. From the shiny red vinyl and chrome of a 1950’s-style diner, to the vintage, wooden Indian carvings that look to be from the early 20th century, the Wigwam has it all. The restaurant is obviously deeply rooted in the community, as there were lots of local athletic fundraisers and community bulletin-type posters up all over the place. It’s always a plus to see a town embrace its local businesses, and vice-versa.
Surprisingly, the dining area was much larger than it appeared to be from the exterior. The grill and serving areas are open, as is the case in many small town diners, and you can see the grill cook hard at work, slinging hash browns and frying up bacon as quickly as the orders come in. The servers all seem to share table duties, as one waitress took our order, a different one brought our coffee, and yet another brought our food. They were all pleasant and took the time to talk and joke with us like they did with the regulars, which was nice.
This was a sign that was posted on the front of a freezer behind the counter. You won’t see this too may places these days. Ah, how I love small town diners….
My dining partner on this day was my Pops, who offered to treat me to breakfast while we were passing through town on our way to do a job. He ordered the Standard Breakfast ($5.49), which consisted of a simple combination of two eggs, potatoes, meat and toast. Looking back, this meal pretty much sums up the Wigwam’s breakfast menu – standard. Everything was strait-forward and nothing was fancy…but like I said before, it doesn’t have to be.
I didn’t feel like loading my stomach down with a heavy, calorie-laden carbfest that morning, so I chose the Breakfast BLT ($4.29). It was a sturdy sandwich that combined the usual BLT ingredients with a fried-hard egg and American cheese, on rye toast. The bacon was cooked well and was flavorful, and it came with a side of potatoes. The whole meal was good, overall.
This is the kind of breakfast you just want sometimes…something simple, yet filling.
Canal Wigwam is a likeable place. It’s a quaint little shop in the middle of downtown Canal, where many of the local townsfolk gather to have a regular, standard breakfast. It’s a place with a rich history in the community, and with strong ties to the area and its businesses and schools. There are no frills, no gimmicks, and nothing but friendly people in a come-as-you-are setting. There’s just something special about places like this.
If you’re looking for fancy and five-star, you might want to keep searching. But you’ll be missing out on a whole lot of small town charm if you do.
Canal Wigwam is located at 4 S. High St., Canal Winchester, OH 43110 (Map). They’re open Monday – Thursday, Saturday 6:00 am – 2:00 pm, Friday, 6:00 am – 7:30 pm, and Sunday, 8:00 am – 2:00 pm. For more info, check out their website, or their Facebook page.