MARSHALL - Toni's Depot may be under new ownership, but the owner isn't really new to the restaurant. In fact, Ross Taveirne said, he's been there since high school.
"It started out as just a part-time, high school job," Taveirne said. But he liked the restaurant, and working with its previous owners and founders, so much he stayed on.
"Frank (Schultz) taught me a lot. I worked with him for 10 years. He was a great boss," Taveirne said.
Photo by Deb Gau
Ross Taveirne, the new owner of Toni’s Depot in Marshall, started out working at the restaurant in high school. Interacting with customers and working with Toni’s founders Frank and E.J. Schultz have been some of the best parts of his experience, Taveirne said.
Taveirne officially took over ownership of Toni's Depot, located at the Sinclair station on West Main Street in Marshall at the beginning of January. He said the experience of working with Toni's founders Frank and E.J. Schultz was invaluable in getting started. Frank Schultz and his wife E.J. Schultz opened Toni's Depot in 1996, and before that Frank had operated Toni's Pizza on East College Drive in Marshall for more than 20 years.
Before Frank died in 2008, Taveirne said, "He had told me he wanted me to take over, and we talked about it with E.J., too."
Since the beginning of the year, E.J. Schultz has been helping Taveirne with managing the books at the Depot.
"I'm very thankful," Taveirne said, for everything they've taught him. "I don't know how I would've done it without Frank, and E.J.'s helped tremendously. She still does."
Taveirne said he's been getting used to running the business side of the restaurant along with doing day-to-day work. Overall, he said, his job hasn't changed much.
"I'm still here at 4:30 in the morning to make the bread, and things like that," he said. The biggest difference is that now he takes extra time after kitchen work is done to take care of finances. "Day by day, I think it's getting easier."
Although Taveirne said he hopes to gradually expand the business, he also wants to keep the same kind of working environment at Toni's Depot that he's had as an employee and manager. He and the rest of the staff will bounce ideas off of each other to come up with new items on the menu.
"We're offering the same food as before, but we always like to try and add things to the menu," he said. One recent example, he said, was "We tried having buffalo chicken, and that went well, so we might bring it back. We have take-and-bake pizzas now, and we use the same sauce recipe Frank used at Toni's Pizza."
Another new idea was to get the Depot online, Taveirne said.
"We created a Facebook page for Toni's Depot," he said, and in the week it's been up, people have already started to join on as fans. "We put the daily specials on there, and sometimes we'll have special offers. I've had a couple of people say they came in because they saw the special on Facebook."
The atmosphere at the Depot and getting to know the customers is still one of the best things about working there, Taveirne said.
"I love interacting with the people when they give me a bad time and I know they're kidding," he said. "I love when people say this is the best place to eat in town."