Saturday night while visiting Franklin, IN, we were treated to a tasty dinner at The Willard.  The building where The Willard is located was built in 1860, so it has a lot of beautiful historic details.  In 1922, it was sold to Mrs. Willard along with her niece and nephew for only $11k – isn’t that interesting – I can’t imagine what it would go for today. From then on, it became known as The Willard Hotel.  I LOVE this sign near the bar in the main dining room that pays homage to the Willard Hotel era:

The Willard Hotel – sign near the bar.

In recent years, The Willard has been operating as a local restaurant – their tagline says it all “Where Friends Meet.”

The night we dined at The Willard, it was very busy, but luckily there were still a few tables available.  As soon as you enter, there is a sign alerting guests to seat themselves.  According to the manager, Ashley, that’s on purpose – to help guests feel at home. Love it! Although there is a lot of attractive outside seating, it was a hot day so we chose to dine inside.  Our server, Mallory greeted us quickly and walked us through the menu.  The Willard offers many choices – everything from pizza and wings, to burgers, sandwiches, appetizers and so on.  There is also an extensive list of beers (many of them local) and a full bar.  Plenty to choose from.  With all these options, we decided to ask Mallory what The Willard is known for – we figured we couldn’t go wrong that way! She suggested their Long Island as a drink, pizza, and wings. When the manager Ashley came by to introduce herself, she also recommended the tenderloin, wings, and pizza – that made it apparent what we should order.

Once we placed our orders, we sat back to enjoy the ambiance.  Since the restaurant was originally a house, it’s set up as such – with multiple small rooms utilized for dining and bar areas.  The woodwork and doors are beautiful and very well-maintained.  I loved all the small details – interior brick, covered patio, old pictures on the walls, etc.  We spent a little time chatting with our server to discover what keeps people coming back and in her opinion, it’s the food, the atmosphere and the friendliness of the place.  I agree.

As soon as I took a sip of the Long Island, I knew why Mallory had recommended it.  It was smooth and perfectly mixed.  The other drink we ordered was a margarita and it too was tasty.  Actually better than the drinks at many Mexican restaurants.  The Willard bartenders definitely know their craft!

When the food came out, it was delicious and plentiful.  Just look at it all:

The wings were coated in their own sweet chili sauce which had a nice kick to it.  The veggie pizza had a crispy crust and was loaded down with toppings.  Very filling.  My son ordered the fish platter and the fish had a light breading that didn’t detract from the large pieces of fish (2) he was served.  He ate every bite. To go along with my sinful margarita I ordered the bean quesadilla.  The quesadillas were loaded with smooth and yummy beans and cheese and served with fresh guacamole, salsa, and sour cream.  It was delicious.

In addition to a friendly atmosphere, wonderful food and excellent service, The Willard boasts very affordable prices.  Few things on the menu were over $10, so a family of 4 could easily enjoy an evening out (including drinks, tax, and gratuity) for $70 to $80.  I noticed that they also offer daily specials – so that’s definitely something to check out.

Dinner at The Willard was the perfect end to a wonderful day in Franklin, IN.  Next time we are in town, we’ll be back for sure!

The Willard, 99 N. Main St., Franklin, IN 46131; 317-738-9668; http://thewillard.com/

Thank you to The Willard and the Festival Country Indiana CVB for hosting us.  All opinions expressed were my own.

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