Where is Waddy man? Popular piece of Vernon history remains in region | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Where is Waddy man? Popular piece of Vernon history remains in region

Waddy's Family Restuarant on Highway 97 in Vernon.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Greater Vernon Museum and Archives
August 21, 2021 - 8:00 AM

For generations, a smiling dough-like chef carrying pancakes was a popular sight to see along Highway 97 in Vernon.

From 1974 to 2012, Waddy’s Family Restaurant operated successfully under owner Ken Wadsworth, said his son Rick Wadsworth.

“My dad was very much a hard worker and he taught young people how to work. He hired staff and students for years and years that stayed with him,” Rick said.

Rick worked there for 23 years, starting as a dishwasher in his 20s. He noted his three brothers were in the business longer than he was.

People loved to hang out with a coffee and it was popular because of its good food and good service, he said.

“The Waddy burger was amazing. It was really good, no one touches that,” he said.

It had no secret ingredients; it was cooked well by good chefs, many of whom are still in the area, he said.

Ken originally purchased Smitty’s Pancake House in 1974 and 10 years later he transformed it into Waddy’s. He then retired from the restaurant business in the 1980s and opened Hillview Golf Course, leaving the restaurant to his sons and grandchildren.

“I think a lot of people remember it as a good place to go. It’s sad to see it go but times change,” Rick said.

Eventually, Rick said the restaurant closed as “it was time to move onto something else.” Ken died in 2017.

Gwyneth Evans, research and communications coordinator for the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives, remembers seeing Waddy man while on the school bus driving past on her way to school but never tried the food.

“It was something as a kid I found personally interesting. I mean it is along the highway so it was a well-travelled destination,” she said.

Earlier this month, the museum shared a photo of Waddy on its Facebook post, and it gathered more than 60 reactions and almost 20 comments of residents sharing memories of the restaurant.

Waddy man was an idea Ken had.

“He was behind that whole thing. I thought it was pretty cool actually. He was an idea man,” Rick said.

Many of his family still own their own businesses elsewhere, a trait he said was instilled by Ken's entrepreneurship.

So, where is Waddy man now?

He’s on Bluenose Mountain, in the North Okanagan on a piece of property called “Waddyland,” Rick chuckled.

“He’s lost his legs, he’s just belly up,” he said.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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