If you’ve ever driven the stretch of U.S. 23 between Marion and Delaware, you’ve finally answered the question, “Where’s Waldo?” What you maybe didn’t know is that some of the best food you can find is located here.
The G&R Tavern, named after founders George Yake and Roy Klingel and famous for its fried bologna sandwich, has been a staple in Marion County since its start in 1962. However, the tavern attracts more than locals. According to the current owner, Bernie Lewis, the G&R has thousands of visitors from all over the state and county. Some of the staff even mentioned getting international visitors coming to Waldo just to visit the G&R.
“We have very loyal hometown customers, out-of-town customers and first-time customers that continue patronizing the G&R,” said Bernie. “This inspires us to continue serving the ‘Famous Bologna Sandwich.’”
Since taking over in 1985, Bernie and his wife, Joy, have taken the business to over $1 million a year. That means a lot of food. Between 1,200 and 1,500 pounds of bologna go through the G&R each week!
In many ways, the G&R has put Waldo and Marion County on the map. The tavern has been featured in The Chicago Tribune twice, as well as on Good Morning America, The Travel Channel and The Food Network. This massive exposure helps to attract more and more people to visit the area every year.
As one of the featured stops on the Marion Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Eaterarian Trail, the G&R is proud of the positive publicity it brings to the Marion Community. In fact, the owners of the G&R love to promote articles they are featured in that highlight the Marion area. The flood of people that visit the G&R also spills over into other local businesses in Waldo. Establishments such as the Tin Star Saloon, located right across the street, provide a place for guests to relax and grab a beverage while they wait for seats to open.
“The G&R Tavern has been featured in many magazines, newspapers and segments on central Ohio TV stations,” Bernie said.
It isn’t just fame that the G&R gives to Waldo.
“We have been involved in many organizations, charity events and school fundraising through donations,” said Lewis.
Misty Mercer, daughter to Bernie and Joy, has been at the G&R for over 35 years. Though Bernie and Joy can sometimes be spotted at their beloved restaurant, she is now overseeing all day-to-day operations. Additional family members include son-in-law Rick as well as grandsons Zach and Hunter.
The G&R currently has 15 hardworking employees. Some have been there for over a decade.
“They treat us all really well. It’s one big family, we aren’t really blood-related, but we’re like family,” said Brandi Williams who has been with G&R for 14 years. “My cousin worked here and knew they needed help. I liked it, started and never left.”
When asked why bologna, Williams has her own thoughts.
“It’s nostalgic. It reminds you of your childhood, but we do it so much differently. It’s not like bologna from the store. We have our own recipe. It gives you that home feeling and brings you back to a more simple time,” said Williams.
The G&R Tavern serves as more than a destination for visitors and a hangout for locals. It is a point of pride for the community and a destination to remember!
“My wife and I had a dream to run a restaurant,” said Lewis. “Over 36 years later, we have managed to serve great quality food, service and atmosphere to the community.”