Caledonia Heritage Foodways & Farm-Lore
The building that now house’s Doug Friar’s Camouflage Café has been a staple destination for Claridon, Tully, & Scott township farmers along the eastern edge of Marion County for generations. Located along Water Street right off the bustling Public Square in vibrant Caledonia — the easternmost of Marion County’s seven villages — today’s Camouflage Café has been a restaurant, in some form or another, since the early 20th century. And it’s never stopped serving its primary clientele: the early-to-rise, no-frills farmers who call eastern Marion County home.
Doug Friar bought the Camouflage Café from its previous owners in the late 1990s, and has retained many of the beloved local Caledonia foodways traditions that the restaurant space has always been known for. Come in for a strong cup of hot coffee in the morning, for Doug’s made-to-order buttermilk pancakes in sometimes surprising shapes & configurations (I got Micky Mouse; who knows what Doug will have in store for you!), or for what the “Camo Café,” as locals call it, has become famous for: it’s affordable, home-made blue plate special lunches, with a main meat, two sides, and a drink, always for under $10. Recently, the Camo Café has branched out into the dinner hour, offering hamburger night a few nights a week. The Camo also serves old-fashioned “home fries,” the way restaurants used to make them — not potato wedges, not hash-browns from a freezer box: a rarity in today’s restaurant industry.
The Camouflage Café is also a hotbed of other kinds of Caledonia-area folk/traditional/cultural heritages. The interior of the restaurant features many bedazzled taxidermy deer mounts and a large, arresting wildlife mural, painted by Doug’s father — an undersung artist who lived in Caledonia his entire life. Moreover, the Camo is known for being the home to what Marion Star correspondents, over the years, have fondly dubbed the “liars’ club”: a long-running group of local farmers & old-timers who meet early in the morning, before the dawn, to drink coffee, swap stories, & talk about the weather before heading into the fields for the day. This important Caledonia tradition has carried on in the restaurants in this location for almost five generations.
The Camouflage Café is a lifeblood of Caledonia’s agricultural communities; and uniquely preserves the foodways, agricultural lifeways, verbal culture, and material culture of Eastern Marion County. Come by for a burger; or ask for the custom pancakes & see what unique shapes Doug whips up! If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll get a piece of toast with a special secret message — but don’t tell Doug we told you that!
SHOP // ADDRESS:
The Camouflage Café: 103 N. Water Street || Caledonia, Ohio }} 43314; Open Monday thru Saturday, 6am-3pm. Call ahead for special hours or any new safety procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Camouflage Café: 419.845.3737
Carryout is available! Check the Camo Café Facebook page for their daily lunch specials & updates on any special seasonal desserts or hamburger night dinner events!
Full-service dining — breakfast, lunch, some dinners; traditional Caledonia foodways; conversation & entertainment; gathering place
Traditional Foodways (Caledonia); Agricultural Lifeways; Verbal Culture; Material culture — Wildlife Murals & Taxidermy