CLARKBURG, WV (West Virginia News) — Minard’s Spaghetti Inn, the oldest Italian restaurant in northern West Virginia, is celebrating its 85th anniversary this month.
“(It’s) pretty amazing. We have gone through three generations of owners. What makes it unique is that it is my grandmother’s house. It’s really hard to explain because when we were kids we used to play there. where did we go,” said Sam Minardi, owner of Minard’s.
“In fact, we are the oldest Italian restaurant in the area and the second oldest in the state of West Virginia. We turn 85 this year, so we’ve been here for a long time,” said Heather Gillespie, general manager of Minard’s Spaghetti Inn, in a previous interview.
Minardi notes that the circumstances under which the restaurant opened are unique because it was created out of necessity.
“I think what’s really unique about this place is how it was formed. It was formed not because they had a desire to open a restaurant. They had to figure out a way to make money. My grandfather was fired from his job,” Minardi said.
“My grandma was serving spaghetti from her dining table, which is a big brown table when you walk in. This is her dining table in the same location,” Minardi said.
After opening the restaurant in 1937, Michael and Rose Minard entered the employee market of a nearby tin factory.
In 1938, Michael’s brother Samuel and Samuel’s wife Agnes joined the business as Minard’s became popular with the locals and has been that way ever since.
“There used to be a tin factory in the Summit Park area. During shift changes, people passed by, so she served spaghetti to earn extra money. Then when he got fired and had to look for a job, they kind of turned it into a regular restaurant,” Minardi said.
“Then it became popular and (they) invited my great aunts and uncles who lived in another apartment next door and a few years later they opened the entire first floor. That’s how it really started to blossom. There were always a lot of people. involvement, family involvement,” Minardi said.
Eventually, the restaurant outgrew the house it started in, so the Minard family began to gradually enlarge the house, with annexes to the restaurant, as it is today.
Along with three generations of owners, Minard’s serves at least as many generations of customers.
“Just like we grew up there, so do many of our clients. When they were kids, their parents would take them there when it was Sunday after church or Friday night. When I was younger and I cooked in the kitchen or I served tables when I got older, you got to know a lot of the customers,” Minardi said.
“You would see the same faces, and as people grew up, little kids would show up there one day at the prom, and then they would get older and have wedding rehearsals and stuff like that,” Minardi said.
This generational customer loyalty has helped Minard’s become a special place for some families.
“From generation to generation, when they were children, that’s where they went. Then they became young adults, and then when they had children and a family, they still come back, so it was a cycle,” Minardi said.
“People were there, and that too became part of their family in many ways,” Minardi said.
As the oldest restaurant in the area, Minard’s has been home to several of the area’s famous Italian restaurants.
“If you look at North Central West Virginia and even places in southern West Virginia, you can see that they were all based on the same cuisine, and that’s the one right here on Kelly Hill by Minard. I think right now there are at least four other restaurants that are born. at Minard’s, said Minardi.
“It’s something special to know that most of the Italian restaurants in the area – Oliverio’s, Twin Oaks, Muriale’s – they all started here. They originate here at Minard’s,” Gillespie said.
The recipes have changed, but the roots of the local Italian cuisine run deep and lead to Minard’s.
“When you go to these other places, everything is not the same, but you will see how similar the dishes are, because at one time it was all the same recipe. things,” Minardi said.
“A big part of our heritage is not only that we are the first and longest established establishment, but also that we are home to many other places, (which is) part of the reason we have so many independent Italian restaurants in Severo -central West Virginia,” Minardi said.
To celebrate its 85th anniversary, Minard’s will be celebrating all summer long, starting with specials this month.
“We have a lot of things planned for this month. One of the most popular things we do and we usually only do it a couple of times a year, usually… we do an Italian buffet and we’re going to do it every time. Saturday night during May,” Minardi said.
“Our birthday is actually May 24th. May 24th we will have another special night. We will have music and stuff like that,” Minardi said. “I know we are going to do something on May 24th where we will have an accordionist from an Italian festival. … We’re going to do something pretty cool.”
Weekly specials and Saturday buffets will be offered throughout May.
“We have buffets on Saturday night, and then our plan is for the anniversary night, it will be unlimited spaghetti or rigatoni for $10. Then we also have a couple of others like sampler cymbals.” Minardi said.
“Of course, we have Minard’s favorite duet for two. We were formed in 1937, so we’re going to charge $19.37 and you get an appetizer for two, you get soup and salads – a two-way combination. … I think it will be a big success … It will be Monday-Friday and then of course Saturday night, you will have a buffet,” said Minardi.
The party doesn’t end at the end of the month, Minardi said, as Minard plans to party all summer until the Italian Heritage Festival.
“We are not going to stop there at the end of May. We’ll kind of extend it all summer,” Minardi said.
“Once May is over, we will move on to June and continue celebrating anniversaries all the way to the Italian festival, which will be kind of the culmination of it all,” Minardi said.
According to Minardi, no matter the circumstances, Minard’s can always rely on its customers.
“It’s pretty amazing to see today because you see restaurants come and go. Something like this that has been around for eight and a half decades is pretty amazing,” Minardi said. “You’ll always have competitors open – big chains, other independent restaurants – but as long as you keep producing the same quality food and paying the same attention to detail, we’ve been able to weather a lot of the storm.”
“Being an independent restaurant is never easy, even at the best of times. But after COVID, it was very difficult to get your customers back. Of course, everything else goes wrong with inflation. Then (there is) competition. “We have a big network reopening. They come all the time. It’s going to be a hit. It’s going to hurt for a while. Everyone loves trying a new place, but our regulars will be there,” Minardi said.