West Virginia December 06, 2017
The Oldest Restaurant In West Virginia Has A Truly Captivating History
Sometimes a business cannot survive on its history alone. It must evolve and adapt to the times in order to survive. It must grow and expand to meet the needs of the current age. This is exactly why West Virginia’s oldest restaurant, North End Tavern & Brewery in Parkersburg – also known as The Net – still exists after 118 years in business.
The North End Tavern & Brewery first opened its doors in 1899. The owner was a former professional wrestler named Bradford "Zip" Thorn.
The most plausible reason Thorn chose to become a business owner was because an unknown injury had left him with a peg leg, effectively ending his wrestling career. At the time, the tavern sold mostly beer with some food items. But it was primarily a tavern, like many places at that time. Only portions of the original building remain, but the business itself has been in continuous operation since the days of the Old West.
Over time, the tavern has changed hands many times.
Across the long span of years it has served the patrons of Parkersburg as a bar, sometimes with pool tables and dart boards, sometimes without. The tavern has gone through many lives, but never did it become as prominent as it is today.
The current owner, Joe Roedersheimer, bought The Net 40 years ago from Bill Dawking, who had owned for it for nearly three decades.
Up to that point, it had been mostly a bar which catered to a very rough and tumble crowd. At that time, its patrons were mostly blue collar. On rainy days, when the masons couldn’t effectively cut stone from the quarry, then would come to the bar and spend all day drinking heavily, which often led to problems.
But when Roedersheimer took over, a shift occurred that ultimately led to The Net becoming an actual restaurant with a full menu.
For the most part, the restaurant serves appetizers, burgers and sandwiches, all of which have become local favorites, especially the Net Burger and their award winning ale, Roedy’s Red. The restaurant also serves regular specials.
However, Roedersheimer did not abandon the tavern’s roots as a bar. In fact, he built upon them. It is, first and foremost, recognized as the oldest RESTAURANT in West Virginia. But today, it also claims the title of the oldest BREWERY in West Virginia.
In the mid 90s, Roedersheimer built a microbrewery in the restaurant. At the time it seemed to many people like a poor investment, as microbreweries were largely regarded as a fad back then. Microbreweries did come and go on a fairly regular basis, but the The Net’s brews, like The Net itself, stood strong, letting neither time nor tradition break it down.
Instead, both those things have strengthened it, because the owners realize that traditions can carry over into new eras. Things can change, yet remain the same.
The tavern’s sign still carries with it the year it was opened, and some craft beers on the menu bear the names of its former owners, such as Dawk’s Porter and Zip’s Peg Leg Pale Ale. They also have a hops garden behind the restaurant which they use for a special brew called Harvest Ale.
It is a restaurant with this kind of longevity that proves time and tradition can be used to bring people together, while creating a landmark through which the past can never die.
North End Tavern & Brewery
3500 Emerson Avenue
Parkersburg, West Virginia 26104
Mon – Sat: 8am – 12am
Sun: 11am – 8pm
Do you have a traditional restaurant where you regularly dine? Tell us all about it in the comments below.
Want to learn more about West Virginia’s dining choices? Take a look at these
10 historic restaurants.