Red Wells family tradition carries into fifth generationWritten by Alissa Romstadt | | email@example.com
The proud family tradition that has been the root of Red Wells restaurants since Clark “Red” Wells opened his first location on Monroe Street in 1919 is still alive today.
The new Red Wells at 301 River Road in Maumee is owned by Red’s granddaughter, Kathie Foreman, and her husband, Sam.
Red’s great-grandson, Matt Foreman, is the manager of the restaurant, and a picture of his great-great-granddaughter, 2-year-old Ivie, welcomes guests to the restaurant. Ivie’s paternal grandfather, Bill Davis, serves as general manager of operations for the building.
While the new Red Wells serves the same famous roast beef sandwiches that Toledoans have been savoring for years, the ambiance of the new location has allowed the Foreman family to bring other business ventures under the same roof.
“Red Wells pretty much runs on its own,” Davis said. “It’s a package that’s been around since 1919. That tradition and all the recipes and all the food has been the same for all these years.”
This Red Wells location is under independent management from the one on Sylvania Road, which has been owned by Red’s son, Richard Wells, for more than 50 years.
“We asked him, ‘Can we open a Red Wells?’ and he said, ‘Sure.’ He didn’t ask for royalties. So we’re not really a franchise. We’re two separate entities, but we have the same recipes and everything,” Matt Foreman said.
On the second floor of the historic building, known as the Commercial Building, is Langley Hall, a banquet facility that seats about 100 people. Two rooms on the first floor are also available for private parties under 40. A full catering menu is available.
Dégagé Jazz Café shares the first floor with Red Wells. Dégagé is French for “free, easy and relaxed.”
“Currently, we have live jazz five nights a week and within the next month or so, we hope to have six or possibly seven,” Davis said.
Rusty’s Big Band, a 17-piece orchestra, plays Tuesday nights in Langely Hall for a buffet dinner and dance. Gene Parker and his trio entertain every Wednesday. The Cake Walking Jazz Band takes the stage on Thursdays, and local and regional talent headline on Fridays and Saturdays.
“It’s a special niche,” Davis said. “It’s for people who like music, live music, and for 15 to 20 bucks a person, they come in and eat and enjoy a couple drinks.”
The third floor is home to Generations Financial Group, run by Sam Foreman.
The Commercial Building itself is rich with history. In 1840, Maumee was designated the Lucas County seat and was a hotbed of political activity. Future presidents Abraham Lincoln, Rutherford B. Hayes and Ulysses S. Grant were all guests there when it was a carriage stop between Fort Wayne, Ind., and Detroit. It’s also rumored that the building was a stop on the Underground Railroad and a tunnel runs from the basement to the river, Davis said.
“So, what we’re doing with the different entities really complements the building,” he said.
Matt Foreman is honored to be a part of the continuing Red Wells tradition. He remembers coming to the various restaurant locations throughout his childhood and then working at several as he grew up.
“Almost everyone has the same story,” he said. “They remember Red sitting on a stool behind the line. He was a very friendly person. He usually had a jar of candy for the kids. The tradition was originally he would be cutting the round, but as he got older he’d just be sitting there talking to people.”
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