New restaurants find it best to stay with familyWritten by Duane Ramsey | | email@example.com
Two of the newest eateries in town are family-owned and operated and bring with them more than 100 new jobs.
Lesley and Tom Rekkas opened the Spring Gardens Restaurant in the former Big Boy location on Summit Street at the foot of the High Level Bridge.
The couple has 22 years of restaurant business experience in the Chicago area and relocated their family to open the new family dining place in Toledo, according to Lesley.
“We thought Toledo would be a good place to open a restaurant with our menu,” Tom said.
They advertised the jobs on Craig’s List and received about 200 applications for 30 to 50 positions, including cooks, servers and hostesses, Lesley said.
Tom handles the cooks and kitchen, while she is responsible for the hostesses, servers and customers.
“We want to serve food the way we like to eat at home, only the restaurant is our home,” Lesley said. “We want to offer old-fashioned family dinners at affordable prices with 200-plus items on the menu. We make our own bread, gravies, sauces, soups and salad dressings.”
She said they chose the vacant restaurant because of its location near an older neighborhood and its proximity to the Downtown community, ballpark and new arena.
“We want low-income people from this area to afford to eat here regularly,” she said.
Spring Gardens is open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. It could remain open later on nights with Downtown events, she said.
Brothers open barbeque
The Schiavone brothers, Antonio Jr. and Dean, recently opened the Flaming Pit Barbeque & Blues restaurant on The Docks at International Park in the location of the former Dirty Martini and Gumbos.
Chef Tony, as Antonio is known, runs the kitchen and Dean, the front end of the business. The brothers previously operated a Flaming Pit Barbeque on Sylvania Avenue near Jackman Road in Toledo and one in Fostoria.
Tony said they grew up in the restaurant business with their parents, Tony and Judy Schiavone. Tony cooked alongside his father at the old Hillcrest Hotel.
“When this location came up, people kept telling us we should open a restaurant here, so we checked it out and decided to do it,” Tony said. “Business has been steady with new faces every day.”
All meats are cooked with homemade 18-season rubs and slow smoked over low heat provided by burning special woods for smoking. The smoked meats include brisket, chicken, pulled pork, ribs and sausage. All appetizers are battered in-house, he said.
The Flaming Pit Barbeque is open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday with about 67 full and part-time employees. It could be opening for lunch in the near future, Tony said.
The restaurant has live blues music on Thursday from 8 p.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. The upstairs bar is available for catering private parties.