Shade on the Canal restaurant has been a staple of downtown Canal Winchester since the 1920s, and that community connection is important to the current owners.
Greg Powers and his business partner, Ralph Lusher, own Shade’s, as it is known by locals, as well as the Leghorn restaurants in Heath and Athens.
According to Powers, after the restaurant became vacant in 2000, he saw an opportunity to rebuild the business and benefit his community.
“The restaurant originally belonged to the Shade family,” Powers said. “It’s changed hands a number of times over the past 20 years now. I’ve lived in Canal Winchester for that long and know what the restaurant means to the community.”
Shade’s was his first business venture on his own after working in the corporate world.
“I love Canal Winchester, so it meant a lot to open my first business in the downtown area,” Powers said.
He said it took a lot of work to rehabilitate the building and reopen for business in 2004.
“The building sat empty for four years. Restaurant success rates are not high normally without this to deal with, so it took a while, talking to the owners of the building, to work out the deal,” Powers said. “It was a mess; you can’t imagine what it looks like when a building has been empty that long with no heat and a leaking roof.”
The building was gutted before being renovated, and since then, other improvements have been made at Shade’s to better serve the community, he said.
“We do a lot of community-based event hosting, like the Walk for a Cure and the Fire Department MDA kickoff that’s coming up; we donate 10 percent of our sales on those days to their causes,” Powers said.
“Right now, we’re preparing to add a patio at Shade’s and we’re continuing to spruce the place up, brighten it up,” he added. “We’re remodeling the kitchen so that we can handle more volume.”
The food at Shade’s is nearly all made from scratch, Powers said. Taking pride in what they make is one key to their success, he said.
“Foodwise, we make our own chili and chowder recipes, our own salad dressings. We just try to stay away from processed food as much as possible,” Powers said. “If you order our wings, they’re fresh, not frozen, and we make all our sauces from scratch. We take a lot of pride in our food, and that means going the extra mile and doing it ourselves.”
Another key to the success of Shade’s has been the staff, according to Powers. The restaurant employs about 75 people. Companywide, Powers’ three restaurants employ about 220 people. Many are young people in their first jobs, he said.
“I’ve been in the restaurant business for 22 years and know it’s important to hire fun and friendly people. It’s been nice to have a chance to shape these people and then watch them mature and grow,” Powers said. “We get compliments on the food, which is great, but we especially like when people ask how we found so many nice people to work for us.
“Our focus is taking care of our employees and our customers. If you care about the people you
hire, they will take care of your customers.”
Shade on the Canal is located at 19 S. High St., Canal Winchester. For more information, visit www.shadeonthecanal.com.