Family restaurants blanket the town, including a dozen or so that compete for business in and around a couple-mile stretch of Alexis Road in West Toledo. One that recently caught my eye there was Generations, which exemplifies the whole notion of a family restaurant, and not just because of the cheap eats and friendly service it dishes up daily.
Here, customers can get their fill of news and information as well as food. There's a prominently placed bulletin board with business cards, notices of community events, and want ads touting everything from handyman services and auto mechanic deals to summer tutoring and used appliances for sale. A stack of newspapers is free for the reading, and coloring books are available for the kids. Adding to the family-centered ambiance the other night was an employee packaging up carry-out orders at a back counter with one hand and holding her toddler son in the other.
Located on Alexis between Douglas and Jackman roads, the building was the site of Olympia's Family Restaurant and a Frisch's Big Boy franchise before that. It became Generations Family Restaurant about three years ago, according to an employee, and was taken over by new owners a year ago.
The day begins with breakfast at 7 a.m., offering such staples as scramblers, omelets, pancakes, and sausage gravy over biscuits. Lunch and dinner possibilities include deep-fried appetizers, spaghetti, goulash, southern-fried chicken, oven-roasted turkey, and country-fried steak, all in the $5 to $9 range. Steak and shrimp dinners go for $12 to $14. Naturally, there's a children's menu with the usual variety of food, including chocolate milk.
Our selections ran the gamut, from ordinary to pretty good. In the former category, a $7.99 order of goulash under "Belly Busters" with garlic toast was overly sweet, and a $2.49 cup of chili suffered the same tomato-sweet fate, offset somewhat by the tingly spices and cheddar cheese. Nor was I taken much with two bland grilled chicken patties that came with corn and good french fries ($8.99).
On the other hand, a cup of chicken noodle soup brimmed with meat and vegetables, and a pot roast dinner, one of several specials that change daily, delivered tender meat and plenty of it. The same was true of an $8.49 open-face meat loaf dinner, two big slices of meat with mashed potatoes and gravy.
Among the sandwiches was Jonah's Revenge, which packed a lightly battered eight-ounce cod fillet into a toasted bun with lettuce ($7.99) - again, more than enough to get me through the day, with a big order of crusty home fries to boot.
Among the homemade fruit and cream pies for dessert was an unusual entry, bread pudding ($3.79), made with sugar, cinnamon, raisins, and on the side, whipped cream and whiskey sauce - the only remotely alcoholic item on the menu.
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