When the National Road was first built, taverns and inns sprang up along the side of the road, catering to long distance travelers, who, in the 1800s, could only travel a limited distance each day. Many of these inns are still standing, but have since been converted into private residences or other uses. The Casselman Inn in Grantsville, however, still operates the same way it has for nearly 200 years – as both a place for food and a place to sleep.
The Casselman is unique in that it blends two facets of Americana – a historic inn and Mennonite culture, which is especially strong in eastern Garrett County. The modestly-decorated dining area has the look and feel of a large family dining room, complete with a fireplace. Staff is typically dressed in either a modest, plainer clothes or sometimes even more traditional Mennonite attire (think head coverings, for women). Every person a diner encounters – regardless of wait staff, hosts or bakers – is friendly and hospitable, making the restaurant feel even more less like a restaurant and more like a family’s home.
The food is extremely well-priced, and many of the features are cheaper than a meal at a fast-food chain. Many of the ingredients are made-from-scratch on-site, and the bread is freshly made in a bakery in the basement (again, a traditional Mennonite connection). The menu pulls together traditional American, Mennnonite and local (seafood) cuisine. Despite the more or less “plainness” of the food, everything has rich flavor. For myself, I had the hot roast beef sandwich, which was served on Casselman Inn-made bread. Should one visit for dinner, bread and butter are included with just about everything on the menu. Just to point out a difference between the Casselman and many other inns still operating on the National Road – no alcohol is served (there are just Mennonite connections everywhere!). On the way out, there is the opportunity to buy many of the Casselman-made foods, notably bread, apple butter and desserts. See the menu here.
For overnight accommodation, the Casselman has two options: the first is a 40-room motor inn directly behind the original building that was built a few decades ago. The other option is one of four guest rooms in the old building – upstairs above the restaurant part.
So why all the Mennonite connections? The answer stems from both the heavy presence of Amish/Mennonite adherents in Garrett County and Somerset County, Pa. (many of whom used the National Road to move to this area), and the current owning family, the Millers. The Casselman was built in 1824 as “Drover’s Inn.” Over the decades of its existance, the name and owners have switched several times, until Ivan and Della Miller bought the property in the 1960s. Since Ivan was a Mennonite bishop, it only made sense for the Millers to operate their business in accordance with their beliefs. Although both patriarch and matriarch have died, the Miller family continues to operate the business in the same manner. (Small world note: my journalism professor at Huntington University in Indiana was Kevin Miller, who is a direct descendant of Ivan and Della. Yes, he is also a strong Mennonite).
The Casselman Inn is located at 113 E. Main St. in Grantsville – right in the heart of the town. The inn is open for three-meal service Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Everything but the lodging side of the business is closed on Sunday (need I say more about Mennonite connections?). The restaurant can be reached at 301-895-5266, and the number for overnight accommodations is 301-895-5055.
For those who are also interested with the National Road (like me), right in front of the Casselman is a mile marker with two historic-information signs.