Brunch with a dash of history

. May 7, 2013.
Nazareth-Hall-inside-3

My family and I recently discovered another “best kept secret” on the Maumee River.  Some time ago I stumbled on an article which mentioned that Nazareth Hall in Grand Rapids, Ohio offered Sunday brunch from November through Mother’s Day.  I didn’t realize that Nazareth Hall hosted anything other than wedding receptions and corporate meetings or parties.  So my discovery (and experience thereafter) was a pleasant surprise.

Once upon a school
On your scenic drive along the Maumee River, you can’t miss the stately brick building that is Nazareth Hall.  Built by the nuns of the Ursuline Convent of the Sacred Heart in Toledo, Nazareth Hall opened in 1928 as a boarding school for boys age six to fourteen.  The beautiful campus provided space for baseball, swimming, horseback riding, rowing, and track.  The school remained open for 53 years and educated 4,300 students until it closed in 1982, due to cultural changes and growing expenses.
People have long been curious about what that beautiful building looks like on the inside, and, for a long time, unless you were a guest to an event held at Nazareth Hall, you weren’t getting a peak.   The Sunday brunch is only in its third year, and there has been a tremendous response from the public.   “We wanted to give back to the community”, said long-time catering and sales manager, Kevin Brown.   “This was kind of our way to open our doors to the public.” The historic building is filled with beautiful old-world furnishings, stained glass windows, and terrazzo floors.  
Always looking for something new to do and see, my family and I took a pleasant drive to Grand Rapids and thought we’d check out the Sunday brunch; and the building of course.  Brunch is usually held in the Cadet West ballroom located on the first floor.  Windows and stained glass surrounding the room make it bright and cheerful, providing a lovely view of the landscape. 

A buffet of Biblical proportions
As we were seated at our table adjacent to the window, I took a sneak peak at everything on the buffet as we walked by.  The selection was much more extensive than I expected.  According to Brown, they wanted to keep it as affordable as possible so that everyone would be able to enjoy brunch at Nazareth Hall.  For only $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 12 and under, and free for children under 3, I thought “This costs barely more than feeding all of us fast food meals!”
A separate table was set up with a small salad bar, shrimp cocktail, fresh fruit salad, and two kinds of soups.  Brown said the soups are homemade every Sunday morning.  The chef recently introduced pizza soup, of all things.  Of course I had to try it, and I loved it; especially with a couple of bread sticks on the side.
The buffet table began with breakfast food on one end, and moved into lunch and dinner options.  One of the biggest challenges was trying to keep my children’s eyes from being bigger than their stomachs.  I let them know they were allowed to go up for more food if they finished what was on their first plate.  Then we had to answer several questions, including “Why do we need clean plates?”  So glad we educated them on buffet etiquette!  Buffets are relatively new to my kids, but I must say, they LOVED choosing from so many options.  The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in this household.
Aside from French toast, sausage, bacon and eggs, the omelet station was a great option, and they brought the finished egg enveloped masterpiece right to my table when it was ready.  Sized perfectly, I had room left to try many other things.  The buffet is typically close to the same each week and includes approximately 30 items.  Lunch and dinner items included tasty fried chicken, fish, meatloaf, rice, two kinds of potatoes, vegetables and even pizza and breadsticks.  As you can imagine, the kids loved selecting their own desserts, too.  We thoroughly enjoyed our meals, the atmosphere, and the friendly staff.
We’ve already planned our return trip with the grandparents when the weather breaks.  Hopefully at that time we can walk some of the 37 acres that includes a stunning grotto made of coral formations that were imported from the Mediterranean Sea.

Bottom Line:  Enjoy a short scenic drive to Grand Rapids, Ohio and take in some history as well.  You will no doubt enjoy the relaxing setting, scenic landscape, and of course the large buffet at an affordable price.  Make reservations soon, because it ends on Mother’s Day and won’t return until November.  (For up-to-date pri www.nazarethhall.com)

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.