- Associated Press - Saturday, October 11, 2014

BARBOURSVILLE, W.Va. (AP) - Tascali’s Decades Pasta and Grill may seem like an odd name, until you go into the restaurant and take a trip through time from Dec. 7, 1941 to Sept. 11, 2001.

The Barboursville restaurant, home to the 70-year-old Wiggin’s recipes, features three separate dining rooms featuring elaborate murals showcasing key points in recent history. One room begins with Pearl Harbor and runs through the ‘50s, the next shows events from the ‘60s and ‘70s, while the final room tells stories of the ‘80s through 9/11.

Darrell Smith, who’s owned Tascali’s for nearly 30 years, said the concept started around 10 years ago when he moved to a new location and began thinking about the two key historical events, and how they’ve played such a large role in the development of the United States.

“While I don’t remember WWII, the time period that followed definitely shaped me,” Smith said. “Obviously, Sept. 11 impacted us all. I wanted to create something that tied those two events together, something that made the history come alive. I think we’ve done a good job.” Besides the murals, each booth further breaks down the history of each decade, with each table featuring a calendar of a certain year telling historical events of that time period. Smith said patrons would have to eat at Tascali’s more than 100 times to soak in all the history the restaurant offers.

While the individual breakdowns are interesting, it’s the mural that really catches the eye, Smith said. When Tascali’s moved to its new location nine years ago, he said he knew he wanted something to stand out - and the ongoing artwork by local artist Tim Decker has been more than he dreamed of, he said.

Decker, who’s also done work in Marshall Hall of Fame Cafe, said the mural has been an amazing project to be a part of the past 10 years.

“It’s just been great, a very positive experience,” Decker said. “Darrell had this vision, and I’m just happy to have helped make it happen. I started off by doing so much research of the time periods, and making sketches after sketches. It’s been tedious at times honestly, I’ve had some back problems that have postponed the project, but I think it’s finally almost finished.”

Decker, who also teaches art at Russell Middle School, said he’s been happy with the work, and has received many compliments from patrons over the years. He said he has enjoyed working with Smith and being part of such a unique vision.

Smith said the funny thing is he never really planned on getting in the restaurant business. An engineer by trade, it was his business partner Ed Humphreys whose dream it was to feed his community. When on board however, Smith said he knew he wanted to make the restaurant special, which is why he sought out and purchased the Wiggin’s recipes.

Humphreys died before Tascali’s reached its full potential, but Smith said he believes his partner would be proud of the look and continuance of the recipe that was made famous in Huntington more than 70 years ago.

“I knew the Wiggin’s recipes were something I wanted,” Smith said. “They are such a tradition here in Huntington, and I think it means something to the older people like myself who remember enjoying the spaghetti at the original Wiggin’s Bar-B-Q.” Tascali’s has been working to perfect its menu over the years, but the “29th Street Wiggins Spaghetti” remains just as popular today as when he opened the restaurant in 1985.

Besides continuing the Wiggin’s recipes, Smith said he’s also proud to be able to run a restaurant that employs 15 area residents. He said he takes pride in providing jobs in his community.

Those wanting to head out and see what Tascali’s Decades Pasta and Grill is all about can head out to 6007 U.S. Route 60 in Barboursville. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday. The restaurant can be reached by calling 304-736-0504.

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Information from: The Herald-Dispatch, https://www.herald-dispatch.com

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