Waldo, Ohio is home to the G&R Tavern and according to some, the finest Bologna sandwich is the Western Hemisphere. The G&R Tavern is a Central, Ohio landmark and this classic, small town American business has been serving their Famous Bologna Sandwiches for the last 55 years. I recently drove to Waldo to meet my friend (andR veteran) Gabe, to try The Famous Bologna sandwich and to see what all of the fuss is about.
Walking in the door felt like going home for me. I grew up in a town that is slightly larger than Waldo and my first job, at the tender age of fifteen, was grilling burgers, dropping fries and waiting tables at Blues Boy’s Pub. Blues Boy’s (R.I.P.) was very similar to G&R, only our claim to fame was Fish Fry Fridays. I firmly believe that everyone should have to work in the service industry, in some sort of capacity, for two years after high school, along the lines of Isreali Conscription. This is only half of a joke as my biggest pet peeve is people who are rude to their wait staff, especially when the person being rude has no service industry experience.
G&R has a small town feel (I mean that in a good way) and caters to regulars and food tourists. The plates and cutlery are disposable and the beer and sodas are served in cans or bottles. Make sure you bring cash as G&R does not accept credit cards. The walls are decorated with Buckeye memorabilia, as well as these photos:
I would probably substitute Burt Reynolds for Clint Eastwood, as Burt Reynolds is America’s greatest living actor, but that is an entry for another day.
Gabe and I arrived at noon on a Wednesday in July and G&R was already capacity – except for two remaining seats at the bar which we quickly acquired. I took Gabe’s lead and ordered the World Famous Bologna Sandwich ($4.25) the way it is offered – topped with onion (a little too much for both of our tastes), sweet pickles (delicious) and Monterrey Jack cheese (a solid choice for almost any sandwich). It is served on a regular white bread bun (which if ran the G & R, would be toasted). I opted to go with the Onion Rings ($2.50) and Gabe chose the fries ($2.50).
As we waited for our food, two regulars from Worthington, Ohio chatted with us. The regulars couldn’t believe that this was my first time at G&R and appropriately shamed me in front of the staff and regulars.
Our food arrived, and I decided to splurge and spend $2.25 on bottle of Stroh’s – always money well spent.
The onion rings were hot, large and didn’t fall apart. The breading had a sweet taste and paired nicely with the Stroh’s. Delicious fried food and Stroh’s, what could go wrong?
The sandwich is as advertised:
The sandwich was very good and pulled no punches. The bologna was juicy, had a hint of spice and was cooked to perfection. The cheese was expertly melted and the plain white bun did not get soggy. However, I did remove half of my onion and added a bit of mustard. If you like fried bologna sandwiches, it is going to be difficult to find one that matches G&R’s quality, especially in Ohio.
You can tell this is the kind of sandwich that gets made thousands of time a year and that the entire staff takes pride in making and serving. It is also the type of sandwich that can literally put a town on the map. If you have not made the trip to Waldo, you should put this sandwich on your local Bucket List – maybe just ask for half of onions and a toasted bun.
At this point, Gabe and I decided to live dangerously and flirt with diabetes by each ordering a piece of cream pie.
I chose the peanut butter and chocolate (L) and Gabe chose the peanut butter (R – both $3.75). These were the stars of the show. While I am not necessarily telling you to forget about the bologna, onion rings, and domestic beer that is priced from 1992, I AM telling you that the pie is the best offering on the menu. I can say, without hyperbole, that this is the best pie I have ever eaten. Well, except for my mother and mother-in-law’s (depending on if they are reading this or not).
Both slices were delicious, fluffy and flavorful masterpieces. A sign on the door made sure the patrons knew that NO PIE would be served the week of August 7th. If I had to guess, this would be because the pie chef will be absent that week and that no one else can duplicate the recipe or results. It is my firm belief that every small town in the Midwest has a pie chef like this.
Blues Boys had a wonderful pie chef named Beulah. As great as Beulah’s pies were (and they were GREAT), she and her husband Norm were even better people. Every time I return to my home town, I think of them and miss them. Small towns and small town economies run on the backs of small businesses and small businesses run on the backs of people like Norm and Beulah.
As Gabe and I picked at our gigantic slices, we hit the wall (don’t worry, we took home leftovers). The tavern was packed, so we gave up our seats at the bar and went our separate ways. Even though we didn’t quite finish our entire meal, I feel like we still accomplished our mission.
On the way home I stopped at a local pork store, Mom Wilson’s Country Sausage. Mama Wilson’s has two meat counters with many different options. I chose Italian Sausage (both hot and sweet), locally sourced bacon and pork chops.
The dairy counter was great too:
From this case I picked up smoked cheddar, homemade horseradish, and a dozen eggs.
The employees are extremely friendly and helpful and they even reserved a parking spot for yer mom:
All in all, it was a successful maiden voyage to Waldo. G & R is worth a visit, especially for the pies and Mom Wilson’s is a great local business to support (bring a cooler). If you are game for upping those triglycerides and showing your Blood Sugar level who is really in charge, bring cash and I will meet you in Waldo!