For Toledoans of a certain generation, the words Red Wells evoke comfort.
Comfortable restaurant. Comfortable prices. Comfort food.
I can remember that when I first came to Toledo some decades ago, some friends took me out to dinner at one of their favorite places. It was a Red Wells restaurant.
In business since 1919, the Wells family is known for serving its roast beef sandwiches in locations that have come and gone, including one downtown until the 1950s and one in front of The Andersons in Maumee in the 1980s.
The most famous one is at 1740 West Sylvania Ave., in business since the late 1950s and until recently the only one in town. Kathie Wells Foreman, grandaughter of the original Red Wells, bought the Old Plantation Inn on River Road in Maumee (most recently home to Gianno s Italian Bistro) and earlier this year opened another outlet with her son Matthew in charge.
The Maumee Red Wells is a cafeteria that serves down-home, stick-to-your ribs meals. The words gourmet or artisanal do not apply. Selections are the same for lunch and dinner, and beer and wine are available.
Sandwiches are made on bread that you can find in the grocery-store bread aisle, and though the menu lists fresh green beans as a side dish, they sure tasted as if they came from a can.
That said, the food is hearty and decent. Portions may seem a little skimpy to eyes that are used to seing supersized servings, but there s plenty to sate hunger.
The roast beef sandwich consists of shredded meat layered between two slices of bread, then liberally coated with hot brown gravy. To my taste, the sandwich and a beef and noodle platter ($2.29) were overly salty, but that didn t stop me from finishing my meal.
A corned beef sandwich ($4.95) featured thick-sliced meat that was moist but didn t have much flavor, but a shredded-turkey sandwich was the hit of several visits. It tasted fresh, with a hint of sweetness, and the gravy had a lighter texture and flavor than the beef gravy.
The beef and turkey sandwiches are offered in a dinner with mashed potatoes for $4.98 and a combo with potatoes and one side for $5.99. Side dishes include coleslaw, cottage cheese, baked beans, corn, vegetable medley, stewed tomatoes, and deviled eggs, $1.09 each.
To save calories, the next time I go, I m going to order my sandwich open-faced.
Who needs an extra piece of bread when a large selection of pies beckon for $1.99 a slice ($2.94 with ice cream)? Desserts also include several puddings and Jell-O for $1.09 and a big old fashioned chocolate malt for $4.59.
After the restaurant closes for the day, Red Wells roast beef sandwich is still available. It s on the menu of Ragtime Rick s Second Edition, which is housed in a separate area of the Old Plantation s first floor.
Contact Bill of Fare at: firstname.lastname@example.org