Seated at the varnished wood bar at The Conestoga Grill, teeth-deep into a cheesy hot Italian beef sandwich, I couldn’t help but wonder who the owners snagged as their cook.
“This guy’s good,” I said, dunking my sandwich into the accompanying warm au jus. Then I tasted my lunchmate’s grilled turkey panini with Swiss cheese, red peppers and spinach artichoke spread.
“Mmmm,” I uttered with enjoyment. “Make that really good.”
I asked about the guy in the kitchen. His name is Deco. And turns out he’s not a cook.
“I’m an electrician,” said Dominic “Deco” Vinas of Canton.
Deco and his wife, Katy, own the bar along with Katy’s father, Brent Burton, and his wife, Susie. They bought the business in May and recently added a lunch menu of delicious soups, salads and sandwiches.
“We opened just as a bar, but pretty soon everybody wanted food,” Katy said about the business at 217 2nd St. NW. She put Deco to work on a menu.
“I’m definitely not a chef, I’m not even a cook,” Deco explained. “But I like to eat.” So he created a modest lineup of his personal favorites, including paninis, a pulled pork sandwich, a shredded cream chicken sandwich, homemade chili, and soups such as pasta fagiole and lobster bisque.
“I didn’t want to be making pork chops and a bunch of entrees,” Deco said. “Downtown Canton pretty much has that covered. I just wanted simple lunch food that we couldn’t mess up.”
Eight sandwiches are offered, with the turkey panini and Italian beef rising to the top of customers’ favorites. Both are $5.95. Sandwiches are served with potato chips and a dill pickle spear. Potato salad or pasta salad can be added for 85 cents. Nothing on the regular menu is more than $5.95.
Chicken noodle and chili are served daily, with one rotating soup daily. Chances are, you will think they taste like a grandmother made them. That’s because one does.
“My 83-year-old Grandma, Betty Wuertz, makes the best soup,” Katy said. “She does a great spinach tortellini, cheeseburger soup, pasta fagiole.” Soup is $2.50 a cup, $3.50 a bowl. Lobster bisque is served on Friday; a cup is $3.50, a bowl is $5. Daily soup and sandwich specials also are offered daily.
Downtown workers are discovering Conestoga’s good food at reasonable prices.
“Best joint in town,” said Brian Horner, Canton City Councilman, D Ward Nine, who also is the records manager for Stark County Clerk of Courts. “I eat there just about every day.” In fact, just prior to us speaking to him on Tuesday, Horner and his wife lunched there on sandwiches, soup and a cupcake for dessert.
“The soups are fantastic, the chili is good, the cupcakes are awesome,” he said. “And it’s cheap. The average I walk out of there (when alone) with tip and all is about seven bucks.”
Katy said The Conestoga always has been near and dear to her father.
“This is where he hung out for 25 years,” she said. “He and his friends were here every Friday.” When the business went for sale, Burton initiated the purchase of the landmark bar. For now, Deco is overseeing the kitchen and Katy works behind the bar. Other family members work as servers, delivering speedy service during lunch hours.
Longtime Conestoga fans will be happy with the expanded bar, spruced-up interior, and the familiar painted mural intact on the back wall. Happy hour is happening at the bar, where everything is 50 cents off.