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Tu Lane's home style meals made it the local diner of choice

Lots of us locals have many good memories of all the three Tu Lanes, writes Wayne Conrad Serbu
Artist Roger Witmer's rendering of the original Tu Lane Restaurant.

The Tu Lane mission statement pretty much said it all. "We use only top quality ingredients to prepare tasty meals at reasonable prices."

For those of us old enough to remember, the original Tu Lane Restaurant was located along old Highway 8 at the Freeport Road junction, across from the Eat and Putt, with the Frost Top, Big Dipper slide ride, go-Karts and mini golf.

Tu Lane was the diner most of us hospitality shift workers and truckers would go to as regulars.

All the staff and servers made you feel like part of the diner counter family, with service like you would get a home only better. The cooks were all well rehearsed and the menu had every food group covered.

Cambridge residents loved stopping at Tu Lane while driving from Kitchener after shopping, a night out at the drive-in movies, nightclubs, or, later on, Lulu's Roadhouse, home of the World's Longest Bar.

The '80s saw the opening of Pioneer Sportsworld, requiring lots of cosmetic changes to happen quickly along that corridor.

So, a second Tu Lane location opened to accommodate all the new traffic routes next to the 401, on Tu Lane Avenue off Highway 8.

tu lane 8
By artist Roger Witmer. Courtesy Wayne Conrad Serbu

If you worked the evening or the graveyard shifts, nothing else satisfied better than the home style comfort food served 24 hours, perfect for a late evening or early morning breakfast brunch nosh. 

After my night shift at Budd Automotive, I had a weakness for the daily soups, beef stew, chili or the hot hamburger or turkey sandwiches smothered in bone broth gravy with mashed potatoes and coleslaw, which always tasted as good as the last one consumed.

The aromas of early morning scratch muffins and sweet bun baking up front mingled with perfectly executed breakfast smells and those steaming large urns of perked coffee filled your senses with bliss while sitting at the counter.


My favourite was the toasted western and home fries which kept me coming back regularly. The food was prepared and served up by long time employees that took pride in their jobs.

For a time in the 1970s, Arthur and Ruby Young from the Hespeler Road Log Cabin operated Young’s Restaurant near Highway 97 and Highway 401, later became known as the Tu Lane Truck Stop Diner. 

Lots of us locals have many good memories of all the three Tu Lanes and I hope you were one of the lucky diners that got to be part of the Tu Lane regulars.

Most times the cooks' chunky beef stew filled my hunger gap and ended with a slice of pie as my after shift dinner. 

Here is that retro Tu Lane Diner's Beef Stew Recipe that is simple to make especially in single pot recipes.

beef stew

Wayne's Beef Stew 

2 pounds beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups beef bone broth

1 cup red wine

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 bay leaves

4 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

4 celery stalks, cut into chunks

4 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

dash of worcestershire and tabasco sauce optional

Season the beef cubes with salt and pepper, then toss them in flour until they are lightly coated.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the beef to the pot and cook until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Remove the beef from the pot and set it aside.

Add the diced onion to the pot and sauté until it's softened, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and sauté for another minute.

Pour in the beef broth and red wine, and stir in the tomato paste and dried thyme. Add the browned beef back to the pot and bring the mixture to a simmer.

Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let the stew simmer for 1 hour.

Now add the carrots, celery, and potatoes to the pot and stir to combine. Cover the pot again and continue simmering for another hour, or until the vegetables and beef are tender.

Season the stew with additional salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot with a fresh baked dinner roll.

Let's eat!

Chef Wayne Conrad Serbu writes monthly for CambridgeToday. The former executive chef also shares recipes and memories from his more than five decades in the hospitality industry on his blog, the kitchenman.