Along the Trans Canada Hwy – (17 E) in the village of Iron Bridge, Ontario is a landmark known throughout the region and beyond, for over 60 years. It’s now called the Red Top Motor Inn & Restaurant. Built in 1961 with its distinctive festival-style red roof, the Red Top is a landmark for many travellers finding their way through the area.
It was once named “Century Motor Inn”, then “Estok Motor Inn”. It was named “Red Top Motor Inn & Restaurant” by the previous owners, upon the advice of their previous owners who said when asked, “What is the one thing you would do differently with the business if you could start over?” They said, “change the name!" So, the name was changed in keeping with its most distinct and memorable feature everyone remembers. Great idea!
I had the opportunity to meet up with the brand-new owners on a cold April morning. Shailesh and Daksha Patel came to the area from Alberta. They were looking for a small business to run and the Red Top Motor Inn came up in their search. They had friends in the area and the business looked like a good fit, so they packed up their belongings and moved to Northern Ontario. Coming from a health care and mill-right background, their venture in the hospitality industry has been a new adventure, but one they were excited to take on. They moved in October 2021 and have not stopped working on improving the business. The 25 motel rooms now have all new beds - upgrading the doubles to queens, new smart televisions, free WiFi and all rooms have added new mini-refrigerators and microwaves. The plan is to do some redecorating in the future, but for now, the Patels feel the comfort of their guests was the most important thing.
The restaurant portion of the business is currently open for take-out, but once staff is hired, the dining room will be open.
The Red Top restaurant has always prided itself on the quality of the food it serves and with the new owners, that has not changed. The menu has changed with the Patels in charge, but they have kept some of the traditional favourites like “Red Top Beef Burger”, “the Traditional Club Sandwich”, “Whitefish Dinner”, and “Fish and Chips” and other various “Canadian” type foods.
What is exciting to me is that several Indian dishes have made it on the menu too, including “Indian Style Fish Fritters”, “Samosas”, “Butter Chicken” (highly recommended!) and “Vegetable Curry” and much more. Daksha told me her plans are to add special nights where they will have Mexican, Chinese or some other international cuisines to offer customers. We can’t wait for those!
The Patels look forward to the upcoming busy summer season and welcome guests coming from the immediate area with cottagers and residents as well as from travellers and visitors from across Ontario and Canada. They also welcome international travellers from all over the world along with regulars who use the Red Top Motor Inn, as a rest stop on the way to visit family in Southern Ontario and return. The fact that the Red Top is now open year-round and with the North Shore Loop of the OFSC (Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Club) trail runs right beside the Inn, snowmobilers are also welcome to make the Red Top Motor Inn a stop on the trail during the winter months.
When I stopped in and started talking with both Shailesh and Daksha, they were proud to show me one of their first customer reviews. It wasn’t an online review or one on a third-party site. It was a hand-written note from very happy, but tired guests who stopped in at 1:30 AM one night and felt welcomed by the Patels with such warmth and care. It’s that kind of friendliness they extended to me and I am sure will be a continuation of the wonderful kind of service they will demonstrate for all of their guests. Welcome and all the best to Shailesh and Daksha!
Red Top Motor Inn & Restaurant
Shailesh & Daksha Patel
22133 Highway 17, Iron Bridge
Follow on Facebook or check the website for restaurant hours of operation, take-out information and indoor dining availability.
Catering is available for small groups.
(Note: breakfast will be served for motel guests and no one is turned away if they are looking to buy a meal outside of the above hours)