Welcome to another chapter of Grateful Heart Monday, where gratitude is my only focus in my writing. For today, I’d like to express my gratitude for a restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, that still seems to hold a lot of positive memories of my Dad and I from my childhood.
What’s the restaurant?
The 94th Aero Squadron.
A long time ago, a guy named David Tallichet envisioned a half-bombed out French farmhouse adorned with World War I artifacts and old fighter planes as the foundation for a chain restaurant serving American food. He opened the first in the late 70’s near a civil aviation airport in California and later opened many other locations, including several I used to go to in New York and other surrounding states with my Dad. Inside each are six working fireplaces and a setting that feels much like you stepped back in time to circa 1918 in France.
1918 was a year my Father truly loved. He was a huge World War I buff, and World War 2 as well. Having been a Navy man, serving a number of years, finding gems like this restaurant was a big thing for him. I honestly had forgotten about this chain until I did a search one day for places to eat in Cleveland or Columbus when I was looking to take a day trip. When I discovered there was still a location of this chain remaining in Ohio outside Columbus, I was ecstatic. I decided that this was going to be the place I celebrated my birthday dinner this summer. After a delayed outing, I finally made the trip with my partner just over a week ago and man, I wasn’t disappointed one bit! It looked exactly as I remembered the chain from my early years. And I mean exactly, which in of itself was a beautiful thing, because as soon as I walked in, the many positive memories of my Dad and I visiting this chain flooded in, warming my heart.
We were seated at a table on the window overlooking the Columbus airport and pretty much had the entire restaurant to ourselves given we had arrived quite early around 3:30pm for dinner. Our waitress, Sherry, was both a gem and a gift because not only was she was super friendly, but she also had been working at the chain since the early 90’s and had a number of fond memories to share with us.
As we sat there and watched planes landing and taking off, one thing that was noticeably missing that was once a staple in this chain’s heyday were headphones at each table that used to connect to the aviation towers for the airstrips all the restaurants were on. I learned after 9/11 they were all removed unfortunately.
Nevertheless, the overall experience was still awesome. Even some of the original menu items remained from my childhood, including their signature beer cheese soup (the best I’ve ever had), their homemade bread and sweet butter, their spinach and artichoke dip and homemade tortilla chips, their thin and crispy onion straws with sweet remoulade, and their lemon mustard cream-based chicken scaloppini along with their cheddar mashed potatoes. I honestly overate, but it was so worth it.
Truly, the meal made me miss my Dad…A LOT. It was well worth it though, because it felt like I got transported back in time to precious moments with my father where we talked about his military love and enjoyed great food and connection. Except this time, I got to share it with my partner and created new fond memories to hold on to and plenty of gratitude to write about for another Grateful Heart Monday.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson