MINSTER – The fragrant aroma of signature fried chicken was part of the grand reopening of the historic Wooden Shoe Inn in Minster on July 10. Sponsored by the Southwestern Auglaize County Chamber of Commerce (SACCC), the official ribbon-cutting allowed visitors to see how the 87-year-old business gained a fresh new look yet kept the original charm.
In attendance at the Friday event was owner Andy Phlipot and his family, along with a Sara Topp, SACCC director.
Also on hand with an official proclamation was Don Harrod, Minster village administrator, and Rick Schwarz, village councilman.
Giving the antique bar multiple blessings were the Rev. Ned Brown, most recently of Fort Recovery’s Mary Help of Christians church, the Rev. Frankline Rayappa of Minster’s St. Augustine church, the Rev. Barry Stechschulte of St. Susan’s in Mason, and the Rev. Trent Fledderjohann of Faith Alliance Church in New Bremen. Brown and Stechshulte said they spent their high school years working in the Wooden Shoe kitchen.
Co-owner Brianna Phlipot, who served as the interior designer, said they did not anticipate the amount of work it would take to refurbish the interior, but the results were worth it.
For example, the bar area retained the original look of its checked floor and many items of Wooden Shoe memorabilia. The back bar, an art deco piece brought up from Cincinnati in the early 50’s, now is a bourbon bar with 67 varieties.
There also is modern lighting, larger and completely upgraded restrooms, and wooden booths that reflect the original wood shiplap on some of the walls. In the back corner is what they call the “family table”, is a table made of a huge piece of wood that could seat 20.
The dining area features seating at wooden top tables, with comfortable black chairs. On all the walls people will be able to see the history of the building and the village through the pictures and posters.
On one wall is a replica of the original backdrop from the town’s Crescent Theater, representing a section of old downtown Minster. An adjacent wall holds 12 original advertising posters found on undeveloped film among a collection of old Wooden Shoe items.
An original tile and brick fireplace, which warmed visitors that came to the circa 1890’s building when it served as a post office and Wells Fargo & Co Express railway station is still there. It was stripped down to bare bricks and was found, under decades of paint, to have a solid black slate mantel.
The dining room mural showing a downtown Minster of earlier times was restored. It was painted in the 1970’s by Pam Sommer, sister of former owner Fred Meyer.
The original outside railings, with a wooden shoe logo, were re-purposed to become inserts in a brick wall opening in the dining room.
Phlipot pointed with pride to one of their greatest finds, the original wooden interior doors. “We found them in the third floor attic,” she said, “bringing them back down to be refinished and then rehung at their original place at the front entrance.”
The menu offers a German-American style food, with old favorites like their classic fried chicken, an improved recipe for their sauerkraut balls and many new items ranging from Dunkle Bourbon Glazed Salmon, Pork Schnitzel with parmesan herb spaetzle, Cajun Shrimp with polenta and a unique Tenderloin Pizza.
Business is already so good that reservations are almost required to be seated on Friday and Saturday, although carryout will be available those days. Wooden Shoe Inn hours are Tuesday and Thursday 4 to 8, Friday and Saturday 4 to 9, and Sunday 4 to 8. In addition, the bar has extended hours.
More information on reservations and specials can be found at the Wooden Shoe Inn Facebook page or by calling them at 419-628-2349.
Social distancing has been done effectively with tables spread out in a careful way that still looks casual, with staff rearranging the tables each night to accommodate groups of various sizes.