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The Suburbanite
  • Darrah’s Family Restaurant closes after 4 decades

  • Rising cost of food, gasoline and health insurance have claimed a longtime, favorite local business. Darrah’s Family Restaurant on Whipple Avenue in North Canton closed its doors Jan. 31 after almost 40 years of serving breakfast, lunch and dinner to thousands of loyal customers.

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  • Rising cost of food, gasoline and health insurance have claimed a longtime, favorite local business. Darrah’s Family Restaurant on Whipple Avenue in North Canton closed its doors Jan. 31 after almost 40 years of serving breakfast, lunch and dinner to thousands of loyal customers.
    “We’ve probably served enough coffee over the years to fill Lake Erie and the Ohio River,” said Dorothy Darrah, owner of Darrah’s Family Restaurant. “With the state of the economy, rising costs and so many new restaurants opening, I made the decision to close. ... ”
    Darrah ran the restaurant herself since her husband Donald passed away two years ago. She was a prep cook and Donald ran the business side. Before opening at the Whipple Avenue location, the eatery was in the Acme plaza on North Main Street in North Canton. Before opening Darrah’s Family Restaurant, her husband owned and operated The Pantry in Hartville.
    The eatery has served breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week for decades. In that time, Darrah estimates they have served tens of thousands of customers.
    “We have people that came in at least once a day and many came in twice a day, every day. I’ll miss the customers the most,” Darrah said. “Many are elderly and are worried about where they will go now. They liked our kind of food and our kind of prices.”
    The waitresses greeted their customers on the last day using their first names, asking if they wanted “the usual” to drink. Darrah said they have had many loyal employees over the years, including Jim Herchenroder, who started working for the restaurant when he was 15, more than 35 years ago.
    “I haven’t had a vacation in a few years, so I’m going to take a vacation and then look for work,” he said. “I’ve really liked working for Don and Dorothy. I love cooking and I’m sure I’ll find another job.”
    The specials on the last day included a spaghetti dinner with salad and roll, cream chicken, and smoked sausage and sauerkraut. Harry Sebald had been coming to the restaurant for years. He always liked the service and the food.
    “They treat us customers pretty good here; they’ve always hired a different kind of waitress, the brand that are friendly and care about the customer,” Sebald said. “The food is good. They serve the old-fashioned sauerkraut and the best baked potatoes in the area. They’ve always used pure Idaho potatoes that are big and flavorful.”
    Sebald ate at Darrah’s five or six times a week for dinner, plus got carryouts and stopped by often for lunch. Another longtime customer, Marilyn Presutti, was a patron for 32 years.
    “I’ve loved eating here, the food is like home cooking,” Presutti said. “Plus, I’ve always liked the people who worked here, and I know many of the customers that came here. They treat you like family and I’m going to miss it.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Darrah said she is planning to take a vacation and spend some time with her daughter, who is pregnant with her first child and Darrah’s first grandchild. She may visit her son in Oregon, too.
    “My son told me that now I can visit him for a week or a month, whatever I want to do,” Darrah said.
    Greg and Amy Goehring, owners of 91 Wood Fire Oven restaurants in North Canton and Jackson Township and 3 Brothers Tavern in Jackson Township, have purchased the restaurant and plan to remodel and reopen in May or June. They have plans to make the new eatery something unique for the area.
    “We’re still developing the concept for the new location,” Greg Goehring said. “It will be more of a high-end pub type food with fresh ingredients and a clean and simple presentation. The new location will be more focused on the adult crowd, versus 3 Brothers, which is more family-oriented.”
    The location on Whipple Avenue and its proximity to the Belden Village area is what attracted the Goehrings.
    “It’s between Jackson Township and North Canton and in the Belden Village area where we haven’t been before, so we think it will be a good location,” he said.