Charm and character included

. September 6, 2012.
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LaRoe’s Restaurant
24138 Front St.
Grand Rapids, OH 43522
419-832-3082
Mon-Thur: 11a.m-9p.m.
Fri-Sat: 11a.m.-10p.m.
Sun: 10a.m.-8p.m.

Leisurely weekend mornings are few and far between anymore, but when we’re not rushing to sporting events and other activities, my family enjoys going out for breakfast/brunch. We especially enjoy dining at local eateries with lots of character as often as we can.

A charming little town

Grand Rapids, Ohio is a quaint little town that sits on the Maumee River just a short drive away from the hustle of the big city. A couple summers ago we enjoyed a relaxing meal at LaRoe’s Restaurant in Grand Rapids while seated on their deck overlooking the canal and Maumee River. When a friend recently reminded me LaRoe’s offers a Sunday brunch buffet as well, we headed back the first chance we had.

If you haven’t been in for awhile, you will notice there is no longer the heavy Victorian look the restaurant had for years. Updates include a new color scheme with fabulous new murals done by local artist Becky Shepard of Shepard Design. “It’s always great to find local entrepreneurs to work with,” said owner Dave LaRoe.

Much of his added décor also comes from local businesses just steps from his restaurant. The terracotta, tan and black color scheme work beautifully against the interior brick walls throughout. The restaurant definitely has a unique feel all of its own.

On a recent Sunday we were greeted by the hostess on Saturdays and Sundays, Mr. LaRoe’s mother. Everyone was friendly and we were soon feeling right at home.
The obvious advantage to buffets is that you don’t need to commit to just one entrée and the kids are sure to find at least a few things they like. However, I sometimes shy away from the grandiose buffets because they can be pricey. A person can only eat so much in one sitting.

A bevy of options

LaRoe’s Sunday buffet was just right. For $7.45 plus drink, it was definitely a good bang for the buck. If you arrive after 11am, the lunch menu is also available, as is the regular kids’ menu. The buffet pricing for children is offered on a sliding scale. My 12-year-old was full price, my 9-year-old was $5.25, and my 5-year-old was only $3.25. 

The buffet included scrambled eggs, ham, sausage, bacon, cinnamon French toast, pancakes, fresh fruit salad, toast and LaRoe's signature mini pumpkin muffins. My family made a couple trips up to the buffet and there was plenty to choose from. Reminding the boys of buffet etiquette was necessary, but soon they got with the program. 

Mr. LaRoe and his mother greeted many of the customers by name. Waitresses even knew a few of the customers’ orders before they could sit down. “I always try to talk to my tables," Mr. LaRoe explains. He enjoys talking with customers, getting to know them, and sincerely appreciates their business. He makes it around to the tables to meet, greet and be sure everyone has the best possible dining experience. It’s that personal touch that keeps customers coming back.

If you decide to skip brunch and stop in for dinner, some of the favorites are baby-back ribs, their special French onion soup, and the sole wrapped around a crabmeat and scallop stuffing served with a gorgonzola cheese sauce. More than just a bite to eat, make it a destination trip and enjoy all of downtown Grand Rapids while you’re there.

Bottom Line: LaRoe’s Restaurant has been a staple in downtown Grand Rapids, Ohio for 35 years. Whether you come for the reasonably priced Sunday buffet or stop in for dinner, you will enjoy your dining experience. Give yourself a little extra time to walk along the waterfront in warmer weather, take a load off on the big swings overlooking the water, or stroll through the downtown shops. You’ll enjoy the slower pace and quaint atmosphere.

Karen Zickes is a mom of three active children and freelance writer who resides in Holland, OH. She can be reached in c/o editor@toledoparent.com.