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Remember This? Still alive at 55 (5 photos)

Mary stops for breakfast at the historic Midway Diner

What do you say that hasn't already been said about a restaurant often featured on the front page of the Barrie Advance, and where walls are peppered with framed newspaper articles from the past?

Not only local papers have proclaimed its virtues, Toronto publications have seen fit to write some kind words too, it seems. The Midway Diner on Bradford St. must be doing something very, very well to have such praise heaped upon it.

There's only one way to find out what!

My family likes to eat. Any excuse will do. "Whew, that was a hard morning of garage sales! Let's go eat!" That's a very common one with my husband and youngest son. I mean they just saved a bunch of money buying things we didn't need anyway, so we should celebrate with a breakfast out somewhere!

Apparently, Midway has been dishing up meals in this location for more than 55 years now. I'm thinking this must be the current Barrie record for restaurant longevity. Can anyone top that? I'd love to hear about it. The building itself originally housed a shop, McGowan's General Store back into the 1930s.   

Now, as my teen son put it, the exterior looks a little 'sketchy', but that's only paint and it appears that some money has been spent on the interior, so don't be put off by the outside. The dining room is open and uncluttered, decorated in black and white tiles, painted in sky blue and bright yellow. Choose a booth, a table or slide onto a stool by the counter. 

Check out all the old head shots of long ago Hollywood stars on the walls. With my sub-standard eyesight, I thought I glimpsed a nice photo of Elizabeth Taylor, but my husband corrected me — it was Tim Curry in drag. I may need new glasses.

BT27-2Midway Diner, on Bradford St. at John St., with Tandy in the background. 1968. Barrie Historical Archive

A very friendly server brought us menus and offered us drinks. Based on recent newspaper photos I've seen; our waiter was none other than co-owner Matt Jones.

The dining room buzzed with conversation. Servers moved in between tables chatting away as they worked and the atmosphere was more like having a meal at a relative's house than a restaurant. "Where's the rest of your kiddos?" one server asked of an obviously regular regular.  

Our food arrived and it looked great. Eggs cooked perfectly all around. Fried mashed was excellent! And our son's home fries were just like the kind you make at home in a frying pan. Everything was very tasty and our coffees were warmed up regularly. Our Saturday breakfast at the Midway dinner was a quality, well made meal and we went away happy with that.

Midway doesn't need much improvement. Maybe a can of paint, but I'm sure that's on the 'to do' list.  I can certainly see why the regulars keep coming and I know for a fact that some are at least third generation diners, possibly more.

The secrets to running a long term successful business are few, I would say — do something very well and just keep doing it.

Each week, the Barrie Historical Archive provides BarrieToday readers with a glimpse of the city’s past. This unique column features photos and stories from years gone by and is sure to appeal to the historian in each of us.


Mary Harris

About the Author: Mary Harris

Mary Harris is the Director of History and Research at the Barrie Historical Archive. The Barrie Historical Archive is a free, online archive that centralizes Barrie's historical content.
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