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Duffy's is a typical bar and grille, newly remodeled.
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Duffy's Big Burger
Lunch at Duffy's can be a bargain.
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Duffy's filet sandwich
Duffy's filet sandwich, a personal favorite.
When I first moved to Akron in 1982, my new boss put me in a car and started driving me around town, showing me all the highlights so he could prove to me I hadn't made a mistake moving here from Los Angeles.
Since we both actually lived in Tallmadge, one of the first stops was a local bar and grille at 231 Darrow Road, at the far north end of Ellet, called Duffy's. “This is the place to go for family meals and great deals,” he said, and over time I've had little reason to change that opinion.
I have no idea where the name came from. My understanding of the history is that local favorite Diana Kimmerly either owned it at one time, or at least donated many of her recipes to the kitchen. When I used to eat at her place on Waterloo Road, there were indeed some similar dishes on the menu. By the time I started being a Duffy's regular, a fellow named Whitey was usually seated at one end of the bar, and was clearly the man in charge. About four years ago, he retired, and just as the place was about to be closed down, one of the employees stepped up and bought it.
Then, two years ago, a kitchen fire took off and burned the place beyond much repair. After some time to sort out insurance issues, the contractors moved in, and the place was stripped out and rebuilt inside the old walls. It was actually a bit of a blessing in disguise, as by the time of the fire, Duffy's was in need of a thorough remodeling. Now, it's been completely updated, a lot of the nude paintings that used to be on the walls are gone (a couple remain for old times sake), and it is a very attractive combination of dark woods, green leather, and gray tiles. It now has a high ceiling which makes it a little noisy at times, but they are in the process of adding an outdoor patio for those who smoke or like to dine al fresco.
The menu did not change much in the first few months under the new owner, but I have seen some slow changes creep in since the place re-opened last fall. Duffy's has always offered “full course specials”, which means that soup, salad, an entree with sides, and dessert are all included in the price. Over time, some of the featured entrees have disappeared from the menu, and some of the “nightly specials” are not offered on the same nights when they used to appear. Nevertheless, the place is almost always full of diners, and there is often a short wait for a table.
The menu is fairly extensive, and it's all home-style comfort food. Generally steaks and chops, liver, several pasta offerings with both Italian and gravy-based sauces, seafood and burgers. There will usually be meat loaf, Salisbury steak, baked chicken, and there is a terrific all-you-can-eat beer batter fish special on Friday nights.
There's a full bar, but you won't find too many premium liquors in the mixed drinks. The beer list has grown from two drafts to at least six, and even some craft beers in bottles. I think that the pub food, in particular, has improved a lot under the new ownership, with more sandwiches and salads offered. One my own special favorites, and open-face filet sandwich on rye with steak fries, used to be the best beef value in town, but my personal opinion is they don't buy the same quality meat they used to get.
Duffy's is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast is still a great value, with most dishes under $5.00. Lunch is a good time to try it as they not as busy then, and the same menu offered at dinner is available. You don't need reservations, and they don't take them anyway. You don't need to dress up, because no one else is dressing either. It's just a nice comfortable place that has kept me well-fed for over 25 years.
By the way, if anyone knows a more complete history, feel free to leave a comment. We love to hear from readers of this blog.