The Old Spaghetti Warehouse

(click here for the latest on The Old Spaghetti Warehouse)
hours 4pm-9pm

It's been about a year since I last dined at The Old Spaghetti Warehouse on Commercial Street next to Konditorei. I stopped going there because I thought that the place seemed dirty, the service was slow and to top it all off, they sat us at a booth that had large duct taped patches covering holes in the vinyl seats. I assumed that the place was going out of business and the owners were letting it go. To my surprise, a year later, The Old Spaghetti Warehouse is still in business. With lowered expectations, I decided to give it another try. It's actually been on my short list of places to blog because it's a good example of Salem's depressing restaurant scene. As luck would have it, on this visit, we were seated at the very same table with the duct taped benches. The booths are made from rusty old bed frames that look like hospital surplus. The table is pulled too far away from the seat so you have to really lean forward to eat over your plate. I tried to pull the bench seat closer but it was heavy and I didn't want to make a scene lifting it in a crowded restaurant. (yeah there was a crowd)
So I sat at the edge of the seat and waited for my meal. The service was much improved. The servers were cheerful and quick to bring salads and bread to my hungry family. If you look around the restaurant, the furniture at the other tables is worn and mismatched as well. They definitely have the warehouse feeling down with the stained carpeting and shadowy lighting. I don't know if this place is part of the Spaghetti Warehouse/Factory craze of the eighties and nineties but I'll bet this place hasn't had a makeover since then. The food is better than the atmosphere. The server brought my order of spaghetti with meat sauce and a meatball to our table while it was still steaming hot. Someone once told me that you know a pasta is good if you are sweating while you are eating it. I was sweating as I wasted no time twirling the pasta into the thick rich sauce. A couple of bites and I forgot that I was sitting on a sticky wad of silver adhesive. For under nine bucks you can get a spaghetti dinner with bread, salad and an ice cream dessert. This is not the kind of place you would want to take an out of town guest or friends that you want to impress or a date or an anniversary or in-laws or...well you get the picture. Take out would be great if no one is going to ask where you got it from or you don't want to drive all the way over to Willamette Noodle Company. If you do want to dine in, ask for the duct tape booth and tell them Eat Salem sent you.

52 comments:

jeff said...

I don't think the Spaghetti Warehouse predates the mid-80s. The space was one of Salem's first strip joints prior to that.

Anonymous said...

if you didnt like it so much the first time why the heck did you go back? just to comoplain about the decor? you should rename this blog SALEM FOOD SNOB
JERKOFF

-s said...

Ugh...awful place. Ate there once, pre-blog. Never went back.

Salem Man said...

I have every right to complain about going to a restaurant and having to sit on furniture that has been duct taped together. Call me a snob for wanting to eat in a clean environment. I'll bet that most people would agree with my observation that this place is run down and in need of new paint, carpet and furniture. The food here is not bad, it's a shame that the dining atmosphere is horrible. Let's hope we see improvements in the future. Maybe in a year, I will go back to see.

Marcia said...

We ate at spaghetti factory tonight in Salem ... We didn't get there until after 8pm and our server was the best we have ever had ... friendly,quick, happy to see us and eager to help us decide what sauce we wanted ( by sampling it ) they are were amazing and we all got a different one.... Our food was amazing and the price was so surprisingly low... the creme burlee was to die for... so our hats off to the cook and I wish we knew our servers name..she had dark hair, 20s, and very cute.... we will be back and will tell our friends... as for the tape on the chairs>>> it didn't seem to change the taste of the food... we have been to some nice restaurants in our day and this place puts them to shame.. maybe we should all show up to help remodel>> just to keep them in Salem !!!! Thanks> Marcia, Dan, Andria and Rich :)

Anonymous said...

Back in the 70's, yes 70's in that same building a place called "The Spaghetti Warehouse" opened. It was big, and took up the whole building, not just part of it.

It was a great place to take the family, and out of town guests. It was clean, and had the assorted tables mixed and matched of "antiques" And the "bed tables"

It ran for years, {and from rumors I have heard, had a few problems with recycled salad and the health department)

Finally it went down hill, and after a year or so, a jiggly dance juice bar went in. It didn't make it, and it reopened as "THE OLD SPAGHETTI WAREHOUSE"

We used to dine at the original one, and it was very good. But today's place isn't nearly as good. Service is hit and miss, and they use only part of the neat old building. The food doesn't compare, and lighting is crap. It used to be better lighting too!

Anyway, I don't plan to go back anymore, it just doesn't seem to be very good...sad.

jeff said...

As long as we are sort of on the subject of 'non-corporate local Italian' what do people think of Geppettos (in the same strip on Lancaster as Office Max & Hometown Buffet) and Michelangelos (further south on Lancaster behind Salem Tool, across from the Santiam 11)?

Salem Man said...

I've been meaning to go to Geppetto's for awhile.

Morgan said...

Also what about Michelangelo's out on Lancaster?

As for the Warehouse, I LOVE it. And we specifically do take out of towners there, and we had a great time and enjoyed the whole thing.

I think some people will really like the decor. I think 'unclean' is incorrect, it's just old furniture trying to go for an antique look. I don't really like the chairs, but I've never felt it was unclean.

The prices are great, it's a relaxing place, and I really like the food, especially the calzone/pasta combinations. So cheap, with dessert.

Take out is great as well. Bit paper sack with like half a loaf of bread in there. Gold.

K & N said...

The first time we went there, I think they seated us at the same place you were seated. Who could forget the duct tape? BUT we did like the service, food and prices, so we made a point of taking my folks when they were in town. It's just their kind of place.

everyone's a stinking critic said...

I believe you need to bend over and have someone pull that stick out of your ass. The service was wonderful, there was no duct tape covered furniture anymore, and maybe you need to open your eyes and look for the beauty of things. You're right, it was dark/shadowy inside, but then again, i've been to a few finer restaurants that were darker. big deal. I personally think that you need to look deeper into things and try to find the beauty of it in their own quirky ways. I thought the use of bed headboards and foot boards for benches unique. That's just me. If you want good food, I'd make the trip. I'll deffinately be going again.

Salem Man said...

If they got rid of the duct tape benches that's a good place to start. What they should do next is take a good look at the rest of the restaurant. Sit down at each of the tables and look at the place the way a new customer would see it. What I'm buying when I eat at a restaurant is three things, food, service and atmosphere. If anyone of these three categories is "awful," it's not likely I will go back. Duct taped seats, puts the atmosphere into the awful level. You may not agree with this, you may have a different tolerance for what is acceptable, this is just my opinion.

amy said...

Someone said, "What about Michaelangelo's" on Lancaster...

Well lemme tell ya about that one! My husband and I dropped in there once, as we were looking for some Italian. One sniff and look at the place and we decided to do carryout. It's old, dirty, ugly, and smelled like stale smoke, at best.

We approach the counter and look at two grubby, sticky menus. Then a woman comes up to the counter, holding a kid wearing nothing but a diaper in one hand, and a cigarette in the other. She asks if she can help us and we said we were just checking out the menu.

She proceeds to put the cigarette down, turn around and shift the kid to her other arm, and then proceeds to handle plates and things coming out of the kitchen with the hand that was just on the diaper.

I kid you not. We walked out laughing so hard I thought I'd break a rib.

I would NEVER go there. EVER.

Kari said...

My fiance and I went to OSW and really loved it. Sure the service was a little slow, but our server was really cool and the food was great. Both times. We loved the bread so much we decided to go back. It's cheap and the portions are huge. So, my meal lasted three days. Not a bad deal. I loved the atmosphere, even though it was all held together by tape. We were insistent on the table we wanted and we really enjoyed a romantic dinner.

Anonymous said...

but what should I eat? Please talk more about the food and less about duct tape. Thank you.

Kari said...

I'm moving to Salem in May when I marry a Salem native. Every time I've flown out to see him, we make it a priority to have a casual date at The Old Spaghetti Warehouse. In my opinion, the place is one of the best restaurants I've ever been to and I love it. Sure, I've eaten at fancy places with great food and a sophisticated atmosphere. However, I find that TOSW is a place that reminds me of the awesome hang-outs in college and it's wonderful to have a place where you can just chill out without sacrificing food quality. So, if you're a critic without a sense of sentimentality, then don't bother stopping in. By the way, their garlic bread rocks! And the spumoni? Love it! If you're coming in late, say 8:30pm, no worries. They're more than happy to serve. I hope you enjoy it! Thanks!

Salem Man said...

If you think TOSW is great, you're going to love living in Salem. Thanks for reading, let me know if they got rid of the duct tape benches. The funny thing is, I hope that they never replace them.

Anonymous said...

I agree the decor is a bit outdated, but the food was AWESOME. Very tasty and service was excellent. You can't beat the price and I would definitely go back!

Anonymous said...

Went to TOSW on Mother's Day. Wonderful service and although the decor is old and the building is even older it was not dirty. Did not see duct tape...when was the last time you ate there? The food was really tasty and very reasonable too.

Judd said...

We tried to eat at the the old spaghetti warehouse today but after waiting for ten minutes we decided to leave. I stopped by the hostess stand and asked to speak to a manager and waited ANOTHER 10 minutes and then I was told that there was no manager on sundays. With this poor of customer service, you can be sure that this hole will not be getting none of my buisness.

Anonymous said...

We tried the Old Spaghetti Warehouse a couple of months ago and enjoyed it. I only had two complaints;

I ate tooooo much and I didn’t get any crayons to draw with. I wonder if it was an anti Australian thing, or just because I’m nearly 50 years old ?

Anna M. said...

I personally LOVE the worn down, and vintage like atmosphere. It's one of the many reasons i look forward going there. I don't want it to be remodeled, have better lighting, or decorated more modernly. It's unique, and perfect, just the way it is.

I very much enjoy every little thing about The Old Spaghetti Warehouse.

Anonymous said...

The old time-y feel is fantastic. & The setting is what makes it.. well, The Old Spaghetti Warehouse!
Not to mention that the food is simply amazing.

Anonymous said...

Our family LOVES The Old Spaghetti Factory! We have been there many times and the food tastes just WONDERFUL and so much of it! The vintage like atmosphere is fun and interesting.
We will be going back to The Old Spaghetti Factory for many years to come!
The Riley's

Anonymous said...

The Spaghetti Warehouse is an old building with owners that wont let the people that rent it revonate it or do ANYTHING to it. It costs about $800mdollars to fix a seat cover. they have an amazing crew. all under 29 years old running it with amazing food. The BEST Italian food I've ever had, and I've never EVER paid over $13 FOR AN ENTIRE MEAL INCLUDING DRINK! You're freakin stupid, ignorant and untasteful if you dont like it there. The waitresses are nice, friendly, tentative and very into how you feel about your meal.
If you don't like it, they do ALL they can to make your experience 100% satisfactory. EVEN iving you food free if you're not completely happy.



If you're looking for the fanciest restaurant you can find, go to Olive Garden.
Their food is Microwaved, but they have simple service.
TOSW has amazing food, good service, and origional classic decor.

Anonymous said...

TOSW is a gem in Salem. I think it's a testament to great small business with never-failing delicious food, great prices, and unique decor. I absolutely love the vintage decor, no matter if it is a bit worn down. That's what makes it classy. There's even an old can of Postum next to the cash register, along with the hundred or so old beer bottles lining the top of the dining room wall. I'd rather have that than eating in some overly bare and boring restaurant that feels like a hospital. On top of that the service is always wonderful. It is a small restaurant, so even if service isn't at light speed the waitresses are always working very hard and are extremely friendly. Also, I think it's endearing that they have a mini art gallery of menus and placemats by the bathrooms. Anyone can hang a picture up wherever they'd like; it's always a big plus when restaurants have a little something extra for kids.

Anonymous said...

If you've ever seen the kitchen there, you would never eat there again, or go near it. Yuck. Outdated is a nice term for this restaurant. Dirty, cluttered and discusting= more like it. And since I know the owner of the building, I know there is nothing he would like more than to have the renters fix it up.

I would never go there, even if I was paid to. Its a shame, I just cant believe the pass the health inspection. Don't believe me? Ask to see their kitchen. They wont let you near it.

Anonymous said...

Love it, yeh it could use som eTLC, but who couldn't?? :=)

Eric Wavra said...

I've been going to the OSW for 38 years. (my mother used to eat there while I was still in utero). I went there when it was an 18+ dance club, and snuck in when it was a strip joint. I was very happy to see the noodles come back!

1) It's a large old warehouse (hence the name)with very high concrete walls and support beams. Unfortunately, this leads to poor acoustics. If you have a large party, this could be a nusiance. For couples, or families, not a problem.

2) The atmosphere is very relaxed in an ecentric fashion. Dark green walls, low light, antiques from different generations, and of course... the antique beds turned into tables. (you can get a person into bed of the first date!)

3) The speed of service is a little hit-n-miss, but ALWAYS freindly and eager to please.

4) The food is great! The menu is not huge, but it is complete. Soups, salads, pasta in various forms, desserts, and a large variety of beverages. You can get you meal either "a la carte" or with all of the above mentioned. And EVERY meal is served with a steaming loaf of sourdough bread and garlic herb butter.

The menu has one side dedicated to just noodles. They offer: butter, meat, vegitarian, marinara w/ meatballs, clam, and others that I don't remember.
The other page is the "specialty" side. this includes: chicken fettucini, lasagna, caneloni, pizza, and more.
Desserts include cereme brule, spumoni, and a few others.

There is a decent wine list that has local vinyards, national wines, and even some imported from Italy.

5) It is NOT dirty! Some things (antiques) develop a certian patina with time. This does not mean it's diry, just old. So the carpet has stains. How much does 10,000 square feet of carpet cost?

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE food! I have been to some rediculusly expensive places all over the nation that have less courious staff, less quality, and definately less atmosphere!

For a nice time under 30 bucks, go to The Old Spaghetti Warehouse!

Matthew Williams said...

man, you people complain alot. I work at the spagetti warehouse in the kitchen. It is a very clean place if you look close enough. all the old seats and bed frames are suppose to be there to add to the feel of the restraunt. I eat the food there every day I work and I'm still not tired of it yet. Full of flavor and love. My dad was the manager of the place in the 70's, and it was good back then to. The food is cheap and filles your belly to the rim. If you complain about the place, you are picky, and snobby. Sitting on ducktape should be the least of your worry's. If they had 20 doller meals then I would understand. You get what you pay for people.

Anonymous said...

that's great customer service. i love when employees of restaurants get on this blog and call the people who didn't like the experience at their eateries "idiots". if you honestly dont think there's any room for improvement at your perfect restaurant, you've got bigger issues. you should probably look at what paying customers say closely and work even harder to improve their experience.

thanks to your message, i'll never be eating at this place. i'd rather be "picky and snobby". get over yourself.

Anonymous said...

To that last comment..

"you should probably look at what paying customers say closely and work even harder to improve their experience. "

...do you think the employees are sitting around yawning waiting for people to complain? No. Believe me, working in very small businesses with such a small staff means everyone is busting their butts and sometimes (thankfully, really) it gets so darn busy that there's only so much they can do. And as far as building complaints, try renting (I stress RENTing, not owning) out a one-hundred year old cement warehouse and see if you can do better.

Anonymous said...

i'm with matt on this one. they can't do anything to change the building because it's not theirs to change. and they can't get any new furniture because all they can afford to do is pay employees, bills, rent, and buy more cheap food for you to eat. besides do you go to a place to eat furniture? no. so...think about that next time you decide to NOT eat there. "picky and snobby." seriously...try a place, if you don't like it, don't go back. simple.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I know what "renting" means, and I work for a small business and have for years. I know how much work it is. But that doesn't excuse your duct-taped furniture and lack of ambiance, and people are noticing. So quit making excuses. I'm sorry but after reading comments from employees here I will never set foot inside. They sound like an endearing bunch.

People are too short on money these days to spend it getting snotty service from snotty employees who, though they mean to defend their establishment, end up sounding like we should pay to put up with their crap. Including letting us know they buy cheap food for their restaurant. I can eat cheap food with great furniture at home -- why would I pay to go here?

And no, I won't "try" it before making my opinion, you've done enough here thanks.

Anonymous said...

We have gone to the OSW for years. We have no connections to the owners/renters/employees. Their food is great! Prices are reasonable and service is good. As a matter of fact, we're celebrating a family birthday there tonight! Thank you OSW employees!

Anonymous said...

I really would try it. You'll either love it or not.

We live just down the street and with young kids we eat out a lot.

Personally I like the atmosphere. It's not a chain with bright lights and perfect tables/chairs ala Burger King or Taco Bell, but it's generally comfortable.

The service has been mostly very good over the past six years. There are a couple of waitresses that have been there for quite a while and they are generally good. We've had a few that were adequate, but I don't remember having bad service ever.

The food has been mostly very good. I really like the sourdough bread and whipped garlic butter. The spaghetti with meat sauce is good (I pretty much have the same thing every time, so you are on your own with the rest of the menu).

We have had a few bad experiences, with both service and food, but on the whole we like it. It has gotten busier over the past seven years, despite price increases, if that is any indicator.

My dad, who ran and owned restaurants for 50+ years and was generally the most critical/demanding/perfectionist customer (as well as employer) liked the place. (not so much with the Off Center Cafe - which is one of my favorites). But eating with us he was usually paying more attention to grandkids..

It comes down to service and food for me. I would rate both pretty good. **Anyone complaining about duct tape - that just doesn't make sense.**

I would recommend a visit.



**It sure would be nice to do away with the anonymous posts on this blog.** I think it would lend a lot more credibility.

Anonymous said...

I agree about the anonymity.... I don't want to post anonymously but I don't have any of those listed accounts so I must. I guess I should add my name at the end of my comments or something.

And I guess I don't understand why everyone thinks the duct tape is a non-issue. If the food is good and the service is good, there are decor aspects I can overlook... but feeling like I'm sitting in a restaurant that is falling apart isn't going to help me enjoy my experience. Frankly, if a piece of furniture is requiring duct tape to stay together you should probably just chuck it. And replace it, even if it's with something second-hand (which sounds like it would fit in with the restaurant -- not a bad thing). It doesn't have to be a huge expense, but it would make a big difference. Above all a restaurant should be safe and very clean, and duct tape doesn't get that message across. I think that's all people feel weird about.

I'm a tad confused by your comments, Anon: "I don't remember having bad service ever.... We have had a few bad experiences, with both service and........."

Anonymous said...

To clarify my double speak: We have had the occasional stuck without water refills for a long time and bad loaf of bread a couple of times, but for the most part (95 of 100) visits, the food and the service was good. Certainly not great food or great service, but good.

I am completely baffled that anyone would care about duct taped booth seating. Unless of course it is uncomfortable to sit on. Sure it might look low-rent, but that doesn't seem like it should detract from the food. A couple of my favorite spots on the east coast are complete holes in the wall - with junky old tables and chairs - but with excellent service and food. Worse than duct tape, but been there for 60 years and people line up to get in the door.

Anonymous said...

Actually OSW DOES predate the mid eighties, it opened in the seventies, closed, was the strip club another poster mentioned,and reopened. Good value and all the waitresses are very sweet, attentive girls!

Anonymous said...

Get over the duct tape !!!!!! I have been going there for the past three years and have NEVER seen any duct tape anywhere . Yes the building is old hence it being called the old spaghetti warehouse it is soooooo good nowhere in town can you get so much food for such a little price . I honestly do not understand why someone would take the time to take pictures of duct tape and feel the need post on the internet . seriosly the person who did that either needes to get a life or must own italin restaurant in town

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone i'am actually employeed there and before being hired decided to google the place . I have been shocked to hear what some of you have to say . Obviously we have regular health inspections and if we didnt pass we would not be open for business . Yes the managment does take into consideration the buildings shape and the comments however in our defense (thank you)about the landlords not letting them fix up the place is ridiculous of course they would want them to fix up their building and we do our best to keep the place looking as good as an old former dairy can look .Unfortunatly people who do not work there are not allowed to come in the kitchen but that is only for insurance reasons not because they have a gross kitchen next time you go out to eat ask if you can enter the kitchen good luck !!!!. to all of you who had nice words to say i would like to thank you on behalf of eveyone at the old spaghetti warehouse we are very proud of all the years we have been able to serve salem and to all the other comments thank you for caring enough to speak up and we take all your comments to heart they help us be a better restaurant :)By the way i have never seen a stitch of duct tape!!!!!!

oviya said...

Looks amazing!!!! /I look forward to your feedback /thanks for this man it was very helpful.




Kitchen Warehouse

Anonymous said...

So is it true TOSW is moving to where Alessandro's was located?

KandN said...

Yes, it's true. Their plan was to open early April, but a note on their (Alessandro's) door says there was more to do than they realized.
I hope we find out soon.

Mr and Mrs Success said...

I like it for price and quality. It's worth the wait.

Mr and Mrs Success said...

The food is excellent and I think they should charge more, but of course then people would leave for other places. So if they can keep up the quality and the prices I'm there.

James said...

We are now open in a new location in downtown Salem in the old Alessandro's building. We apologize for our delayed openning... but the state in which the restuarant was left in by the old Alessando employees was horrible.

The food and the prices havent changed and neither has the our hours of operation. I believe that with the new location The Old Spaghetti Warehouse is now a must see and We invite everyone to come and enjoy the rejuvenated and excited atmoshphere. And hopefully we will be open for lunch hours in the near future; so that you can have your favorite spaghetti during the day or on your lunch break. So stay in touch for further details and come check out the new place!

Anonymous said...

We went this weekend and it was a great atmosphere! The servers were very busy, but also did a great job. We will be back, thanks!

Amber said...

According to the article in the Statesman Journal yesterday, the prices have increased. http://www.statesmanjournal.com/article/20110511/LIFE/105110399/Old-Spaghetti-Warehouse-increases-prices?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|Home|s

However, I still think it's a great deal! We always take home enough leftovers to have lunch the next day. I've always enjoyed Old Spaghetti Warehouse and this move was a good one!

Anonymous said...

This was a very good move. The new facility isn't great, but it's better than the old one.

Gino - they even reupholstered the benches they brought with. No mas duct tape.

The food is 7 of 10 stars. Not great, but good. If you want a big plate of pasta, some good bread to start with good garlic butter - this is the place. Prices are reasonable for what you get - big portions. Plenty for lunch the next day.

We won't go too often, but it is a nice place to take the kids or the hard to please relative.

Anonymous said...

I thought it would be a nice place to take family out to dinner. That was my mistake. The service was just terrible. It seemed like it took forever for the waitress to take our order even though the restaraunt was maybe 1/4 full. We had to wait on the bread since they didn't have any ready (6:30 pm). The food was okay. My kids never got the ice cream they asked for. My wife had to flag down a waitress to get a water refill. Overall about a D grade.

It's kind of sad because years ago it used to be great place to go for a nice dinner that wasn't too expensive.

Anonymous said...

Ate there last night. Had an excellent meal and decent service. Looks like it has been some time since you ate there. Try again. It is a great value and a nice family atmosphere.