Reporting Aristea Brady
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — From $3 in his pocket when he came to the Twin Cities to the recipient of one of the most prestigious restaurant awards out there.
The name “Tony Nicklow” has been added to the short list of restaurants on the Minnesota Restaurant Association Hall of Fame. Behind the restaurant mogul is a back story that will inspire you.
With 40 years in the restaurant industry, you’ve probably eaten Tony’s food and didn’t even know it.
If you have, you know the experience starts with the food. To borrow an expression from Tony, however, food is more than just food: It’s the weight of the soul.
It’s not hard to see why when customers step foot into Santorini’s their first question is: “Where’s Tony?”
“I treat them like they come into our house, as a friend,” Nicklow said.
His contagious smile falls on a long list of things that seem to draw repeat customers.
“You talk to any Greek, in general, just food’s very important to them,” said Tony Nicklow’s son, John.
Behind every great product is an even better story. Tony’s centers around family, hard work and a little bit of luck. Tony moved from Greece in the early 1960s.
“I got stuck,” Nicklow said.
He says he’s learned sometimes, you get stuck right where you’re supposed to be.
“When I came to this country, I had a shirt, pair of pants, and pair of shoes and $3 in my pocket,” Nicklow said.
When looking at his now restaurant dynasty, Nicklow said he subtracts a shirt, a pair of pants, shoes and $3 and comes up with what he calls the profit of a lifetime.
Some of Tony’s other restaurants you might recognize: The Shorewood Inn and Bridge Best Steak House. For now, Tony spends day and night at his latest restaurant, Santorini in Eden Prairie.