Since 1945, members of the Gibbons family have been running this place. It was bustling then. Factories in Elyria were in their prime. Gibby’s was surrounded on all sides with hungry workers who often brought their families by for dinner. Barbara’s mother-in-law ran the restaurant, and her husband tended bar.
Gibby’s opened in the morning then. The same factory workers and Elyria residents stopped by for coffee and donuts. Supper and dinner were served, too. As business grew, the family purchased the house next door. At the time, Barbara’s husband, Richard, was 12.
Years passed, and Barbara went to work across the street at General Industries. She and her two siblings commuted to Elyria from nearby Birmingham. Her brother started work earlier than she and her sister and would drop them off at Gibby’s, where they would wait for an hour or so until work began. That was how she met Richard. They’ve been married 63 years.
The setup of the restaurant was different, then, too. The front room was filled with long, banquet-style tables. Smaller tables were in the back. Today, there are three small tables in the front and seating for 80 in the back.
Indeed, many things have changed at Gibby’s, but not its family Friday Night Fish Fry. Barbara says it still draws factory workers, children returning to the city who remember eating there with their parents and others who have heard about it through word of mouth.
She’s still in the back cooking, too. “No one else fries,” she says. The batter is the same light breading recipe that Gibby’s has used since its opening, as is its decision to only use yellow perch. “We tried other fish but our customers won’t buy it,” she says.
The Fish Fry used to be served family-style with cole slaw, French fries and rolls. Coffee was free then and still is today. She says it’s the way her mother-in-law wanted it.
Today, a large order of fish consists of five double filets, while a small order is three double filets. Shrimp is offered now, too. Ten butterfly shrimp come in the large order, six come in the small. Large orders of fish or shrimp are $15.75, and small orders are $10.75. French fries and cole slaw are still all-you-can eat. There’s a limit of five rolls, though.
Saturday used to be the night for paprikash. Barbara says someone recently stopped her in the supermarket asking if it was still available, almost begging to have an order to go. “I’m thinking about bringing it back,” she admits.
Until then, there’s the Gibby Burger, in quarter- and half-pound sizes with all kinds of toppings and sides of French fries. “They’re selling like everything,” she says. “Even though there’s a McDonald’s down the street, people don’t mind spending money on something good.”