Jon and Cindy purchased the former “Inn on the River” in late 2011, with the goal of preserving a historically significant Zoar structure while creating a restaurant that is both a “home” for local residents and a destination for visitors. The new name, “Canal Tavern of Zoar”, pays tribute to the original establishment’s name and celebrates its role in Zoar history. The name also celebrates the building’s connection with the increasingly popular Ohio and Erie Canalway Towpath Trail, which passes directly in front of the restaurant.
The Canal Tavern opened in 1829 after traffic began on the Ohio and Erie Canal between Massillon and Dover earlier that year. Having obtained financial security by digging seven miles of the canal across their lands in Northern Tuscarawas County, the Society of Separatists of Zoar built the tavern and hotel for travelers on the Canal and established the long-standing tradition of good food and hospitality for which Zoar became famous. In addition to offering accommodations and food to Canal travelers, a blacksmith shop adjacent to the Tavern shoed the mules and horses that pulled the canal boats.
As travel on the Canal increased and, in an effort to bring travelers into the village proper, the Society built the larger Zoar Hotel in 1833. For some time both the Canal Tavern and Zoar Hotel were operated concurrently. When a large flour mill was built over the Canal in 1837, the Tavern became the home for the miller and his family.
Located on the Ohio and Erie Scenic Byway and the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail, the Canal Tavern again serves "travelers" on the Canal and visitors to Historic Zoar Village with fine food and our famous Zoar hospitality.
The seven-pointed Zoar Star was chosen by the Separatists in Germany as the symbol of their beliefs. It was called by them "Der Signalstern" (the signal star) and represented a star or comet that was seen in Europe in the early 1800's and supposedly foretold the end of the world and the return of Christ. It was worn by Separatists in Germany to identify themselves to each other and, when the Number One house was built in Zoar in 1835, an inlaid Zoar Star was installed in the ceiling above the central stairway.
Legend has it that the Canal Tavern is home to a spirit named George. The story goes that, while traveling down the Ohio and Erie Canal, George became ill, was put off the canal boat to be taken care of at the Canal Tavern and died shortly thereafter. Some days after his burial in Zoar, George's wife arrived in the village to request that her husband's body be disinterred so that she could get the personal effects and valuables that had been buried with him. Some say that the disinterment of his corpse was the source of the cholera epidemic that took the lives of almost a third of the village population in 1834. Despite the unhappy circumstances surrounding his stay there, George apparently liked the Canal Tavern so much that he has decided to make it his permanent residence. A number of visitors to the tavern over the years and several owners claim to have seen him and experienced his pranks – maybe you will too!