Lunch ride to the old warehouse down by the big ditch

The Warehouse restaurant

The Warehouse in Roscoe Village.

One of my favorite lunch rides, especially this time of year, is to the old warehouse down by the big ditch.

Really, it’s a lot better than that description sounds.

The Warehouse Steak N’ Stein gets its name honest. The 1830 building really was a warehouse in its early days, and the Steak N’ Stein part of the name it inherited from another roadhouse restaurant the owners ran for years outside of Zanesville, Ohio. Today, the building offers a cozy and casual atmosphere, in addition to the burgers, chicken baskets, salads, flatbread pizzas and other menu items, including the signature onion rings that made the move from the old Steak N’ Stein.

Aside from good food, two other key elements make The Warehouse worthy of a lunch ride: Fun motorcycling roads lead there, and it’s part of an interesting, picturesque and even educational destination. 

Roscoe Village is a restored canal village from the 1800s. Today, the brick buildings house a variety of shops and restaurants, as well as small museums and displays that tell the story of an oft-forgotten but truly transformational time in U.S. history.

The Warehouse restaurant

Roscoe Village is a restored 19th century canal town and a popular destination for a fall ride.

The Ohio and Erie Canal literally changed the young nation. It connected Lake Erie to the Ohio River, meaning that goods could be shipped by water all the way from New York to New Orleans. Cities on the East Coast no longer had to look to Europe for trade. They could tap the rich resources of the interior of the continent.

Construction of the canal began in 1825 and was finished just seven years later, quite a feat considering the labor it took to dig a 308-mile ditch 40 feet wide and four feet deep, with 151 locks along the way. Travel time from New York to Akron dropped from 30 days to 10 days, and Ohio’s population more than tripled in 30 years. In those days, The Warehouse really was the warehouse, where canal boats lined up to unload goods and travelers bought necessities out of the shop in the same building.

By the 1850s, however, railroads offered even faster transportation, and the short era of the canals began sliding toward its end. The Ohio and Erie finally closed for good in 1913 after it was damaged by a major flood. Fortunately for us, an effort to restore Roscoe Village was undertaken in the 1960s, and today it’s a popular destination.

The Warehouse restaurant

Ohio Route 541 is one of the fine roads leading to Roscoe Village.

For those of us who ride there, part of the fun is choosing which of several winding routes we’ll take on our way to lunch. From either the east or the west, Ohio 541 offers minimal traffic and plenty of curves. From the north, Ohio 83 is a fine choice, and if you’re coming from the south, you’ll want to include the infamous Ohio 555 into your plans. It’s one of the most diabolically unpredictable roads in these parts, apparently laid out in the 18th century by a drunken goat trying to find his way back to the farm.

Either way, factor in some time to stroll around Roscoe Village, peek in shop windows and learn a little about the days when canal boats were the speediest transportation. It’ll help you work off those onion rings.