I have had some hard weeks before, but this past week (April 9-14) was an especially difficult. It started with dog sitting for my sister, Randi, in Lodi. I had been there since Thursday, April 6, but on Sunday, April 9, her dog, Parker, became quite ill. This meant spending most of the day in the Metropolitan Emergency Hospital in Akron.
Thankfully, Parker is doing much better now. Next came a week full of deadlines and pressures, which is mostly unusual for my job. I felt I had already worked a week by the end of Thursday!
A few months ago, one of my friends and co-worker, Connie Benchoff, suggested that the women from our department meet for breakfast once a quarter. Back when she made the suggestion, I was all in, but honestly, by Friday, I was dragging and didn’t think I’d make it. However, I’m glad I did!
We decided on meeting at the Hard Hat Restaurant in Wooster, Ohio. The decision was made because we wanted to try something different and none of us had been there before — or at least not for many years. The restaurant doesn’t appear to have a very large parking lot and many of the spaces were taken when I pulled in at 6:56. (We were scheduled to meet there at 7 a.m.) It turns out there must be more parking in the back, but I didn’t know that until later. I liked the saying that the Hard Hat goes by, “for hard workin’ people.” I definitely felt I fit the bill this week! I was looking forward to some comfort food in a new place.
The restaurant was bigger than it looked from the outside — not huge — but there were plenty of tables. I sat down at a table and waited for my friends to come. Turns out that Connie and Heather Walton were the only ones to make it for our inaugural, once-a-quarter-breakfast, but that was alright. We all enjoy each other’s company.
Due to the fact that Bobby, my husband and official photographer for this blog, wasn’t invited to our breakfast, picture taking fell to me. Not my favorite thing to do for my blog. (I’d much rather have someone take pictures who has an artistic eye!) I told Connie and Heather that we needed to take pictures of the food before we ate. Heather reminded us of this when the food arrived, but not before both Connie and I had put ketchup on our home fries. Connie ordered eggs, home fries, sausage and toast.
Heather ordered the sausage gravy and biscuits.
I ordered country fried steak, eggs, home fries and cinnamon toast.
The food was really good. Nice, tasty comfort food. Nothing gourmet, just good old-fashion comfort food, which is exactly what I needed! The country fried steak had the perfect amount of crispness to it. The home fries were crispy and creamy. But the best thing was I finally found a place that can make eggs just the way I like them! I always order over medium eggs because I like a yolk that is a little runny, but not too much. Usually what I get from a restaurant are eggs that are over easy. I don’t mind, but that isn’t what I want. So I was very pleasantly surprised.
After we ate, I had a chance to talk to the Hard Hat’s owner, Paula Wireman. She has owned the restaurant for 5 1/2 years. The restaurant has been around since 1941. It’s name has changed over the years, but not the type of food. It has always been a place where people can come before work to enjoy a stick-to-your-ribs kind of breakfast to help them get through their morning.
Paula has spent her life in the restaurant business, but she is so happy to be the owner of the Hard Hat. She says it is the people that make it so great. She has several regulars that come in each day. I talked with one fellow. He is a combat veteran from the Vietnam war, based on his hat. He enjoys the food, but comes for the company. He has long since retired, but still comes on most days. Paula pointed to a couple of tables that are now empty because those who would have normally been there have passed away.
Paula says that the pipeline has increased her business, too. She has new people coming all the time. She said her home fries are why a lot of people come. They are made fresh every day, in house. She complimented her staff saying, “I’ve got a good group working here.” You can tell she loves her establishment and that she appreciates the history. She even takes pictures once a year of people in the restaurant and frames them for posterity.
As we were paying our check, a couple of my friends from church showed up (Vic Smith and John Drake). I guess you never know who you are going to see at the Hard Hat Restaurant. I’m pretty sure, though, it will always include hard working people, getting ready to start their day with a filling breakfast.