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Restaurant Road Trip: Ellis Restaurant

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Harrison County -

The Ellis Restaurant in Harrison County has a long history and lots of family memories.

"It started as little street car in 1947," said Anthony Ellis, current owner of the restaurant.

It served as a snack stand for movie goers at the drive in next door. The drive-in opened up in 1947 and is one of the few drive-ins still in operation in West Virginia.

It wasn't always an Ellis family establishment. But the food business wasn't foreign to the Ellis family, it operated several restaurants in Harrison County throughout the 1900s. But in 1955, a new era started at the now "Ellis Restaurant," when the family took down the old street car.

It replaced the street car with a full-size restaurant that's expanded over the years. It now seats nearly 120 diners.

Anthony Ellis, owner, said he spent much of his life working at the restaurant. In 1980, he took over managing it.

New faces walk into the restaurant every day, but most of the diners are regulars. Some find an excuse to make it in daily.

Just ask the customers why they come back. The answers are consistent. Good food, great prices, familiar faces, friendly service.

Everyone has their favorites but a few items on the menu stand out to the regulars.

The roasted chicken is battered to order and simmered in the pressure cooker for 10 minutes.

Anthony Ellis said the American-Italian restaurant has nearly 300 items on the menu.

The Giovanni is high on the list too.

"We sell an awful lot of Giovanni's," Ellis said.

 "It's really good. Steak, cheese, choice of peppers," said Ted Brennan, a regular customer for 50 years.

It's not just the menu that's big. The portions are humongous.

"We kind of regulate the portions from the biggest eater to the smallest eater," Ellis said.

Bottomless pits might not even be able to get down the whole Big Tony, another customer favorite.

"So big, I don't know how you could eat it all," Brennan said.

But Ellis said his biggest seller is probably the spaghetti and meatballs. The restaurant still uses his mom's marinara sauce, although it's seen some minor changes over the years.

"We're kind of proud of our sauce," Ellis said.

"Sauce is fantastic. My mom was Italian. I'm kind of picky with spaghetti and meatballs. But I like this one," Brennan said.