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Red Top Motor Inn & Restaurant

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Red Top Motor Inn & Restaurant

Stay at the Red Top Motor Inn

Spacious, comfortable and immaculately clean motel rooms with cable TV, free wireless internet, four-piece baths. Standard rooms with one or two beds, Mississaugi Suite, Estok or Twentieth Century Suites.
Starting at $80.00 per night
• Credit: Red Top Motor Inn

A landmark for travelers finding their way through Algoma

Along the Trans Canada Hwy 17 E in the village of Iron Bridge, Ontario is a landmark known throughout the region and beyond, for nearly 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 travelers finding their way through the area.

I had the chance to meet up with its current owners, Antonio Benito and Greg Brown, about a week after opening for the season on May 1.

Greg explained it was named Century Motor Inn, then Estok Motor Inn, before they bought the property in 1999. When they asked the previous owners, "What is the one thing you would do differently with the business if you could start over," both said, "Change the name!" So Greg and Antonio named it Red Top Motor Inn & Restaurant, in keeping with its most distinct and memorable feature everyone remembers. Great idea!

You can conveniently park right outside your door at the motel. (Photo credit: Sandra Trainor)

In my chat, mostly with Greg during my visit, (Antonio was busy tending to the kitchen and serving customers) I learned a bit of their history. Greg comes from a theatre background in Toronto of more than 25 years; Antonio was born and raised in Madrid, Spain, with chef training in London, England and later in Toronto.

Back in the 1990s they decided they wanted to open their own food service business. After looking all over Ontario and even properties on the East Coast of Canada, they settled on the Iron Bridge area and the Red Top property. I asked Greg, “Why Iron Bridge?” After weighing all the options, he said he knows the area very well. His family, on his mom’s side, owned White’s Hardware Store in Bruce Mines for over 100 years. He spent many summers in the area as a boy. Settling in Iron Bridge was like coming home. For Antonio, it was more of a culture shock, having spent many years in large cities. But he’s come to love the area and all it has to offer.

Back to the reason for my visit, which was the restaurant part of the business and the food! I remarked about how the cloth tablecloths, napkins, china dishes, and real cutlery were happily refreshing for me, and I'm sure by many travelers and area diners. He said that it certainly is welcomed by most customers; there are some folks who are a little surprised and will ask for paper napkins, but it’s politely explained that they don’t use them at all. As an aside, I think it’s very environmentally responsible and more cost-effective to use re-usable tableware, and I always like to see a food service business that thinks about those details.

Breast of Chicken with Lemon Caper Sauce. (Photo credit: Sandra Trainor)

The Red Top Restaurant prides itself on the quality of the food it serves. Using fresh, locally sourced ingredients for their dishes, soups, and stock made from scratch is the key. Throughout the season, they will source vegetables from the farm around the corner at Triver’s, and fresh fish from Nyman’s Fishery out of Lake Huron near Blind River. Smoked fish from Clarence’s on the North Shore, Maple Syrup from Make Scents Maple Products on St. Joseph Island, and Berkshire pork and chicken from area Mennonite farms. Strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries are brought in from the area during the season. The artisan cheese served comes from Thornloe and Kapuskasing, Ontario.

The Raspberry Tart. (Photo credit: Red Top Motor Inn)

Housemade Cured Salmon Gravadlax. (Photo credit: Red Top Motor Inn)

During the winter months, Greg and Antonio travel. This past winter, they went to Mexico and Colombia touring by bicycle. In previous years, they’ve traveled to South East Asia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Sir Lanka, India, and Argentina. Of course, with Antonio’s Spanish heritage, there is a strong Spanish influence on the menu as well as from their travels. All using locally sourced food. Greg defines their menu as really being "internationally influenced."

It should be noted that while the regular menu changes daily with the seasons and availability of local ingredients, the restaurant at the Red Top does maintain a "road fare" type menu with burgers, fries, soups, salads and sandwiches.

(Photo credit: Sandra Trainor)

Fresh Lake Huron Pickerel. (Photo credit: Sandra J. Trainor)

With the quality food and exceptionally diverse menu, the Red Top has attracted diners from all over, who make their restaurant a destination and accompanying motel a regular stop in their travels. Greg describes their clientele as regional, with cottagers coming from the immediate area as well as residents of Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Blind River, and points between. They have also welcomed travelers from the U.S., Australia, China, and all European countries. They enjoy many regulars who will use the Red Top Motor Inn as a rest stop on the way to visit family in Southern Ontario and return. Many fellow cyclers will stop in too. Both Greg and Antonio say that they have made many friends from all over North America and the world through their business.

Apple Almond Tart. (Photo credit: Sandra J. Trainor)

I asked Greg what their plans are for the 2017 season. He said that music on Friday nights have been popular, as well as the extremely popular Spanish themed Tapas Nights. He said to watch their Facebook page and website for announcements and be sure to make reservations, as those nights fill up fast.

(Photo credit: Sandra Trainor)

I’ve talked mostly about the restaurant part of the Red Top business, but also want to mention the accommodation part of the motor inn. While keeping the vintage, original and best of the 1960s décor, Greg and Antonio have upgraded the 25 rooms with WiFi, large screen TVs, new air conditioning, and carpets. They have decided to keep the 1960s look throughout their property because they, as well as their customers, like it that way.

The restaurant is currently open from May 1 to Thanksgiving weekend. It’s open for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner from 8 am to 8 pm (note: they’re closed from 2:30 pm to 5 pm). The restaurant is licensed under LCBO, and their red and white house wines are Ontario VQA. You won’t be disappointed!

Due to COVID-19, Red Top Motor Inn is only processing take out orders at this time. Please contact them directly for details. 

(Photo credit: Sandra Trainor)

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Sault-Ste Marie is a 7 hour drive from Toronto

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