Tony Cibel on Phyllis Richmond’s review of Tony & Joe’s ~
“Phyllis Richmond said, ‘Tony & Joe’s, a contender on the waterfront.’ And ever since that, boom we took off like crazy and 30 years later we’re still going.”
A Ockershausen: This is Andy Ockershausen and this is a special edition of Our Town. And I have a wonderful, wonderful friend and acquaintance by the name of Tony Cibel, who is the man who started some of the most successful restaurants in Our Town. And Tony, I can’t believe it’s 30 years sinceyou opened Tony & Joe’s in October of 1987.
Tony Cibel: That’s absolutely true and I can’t believe it either, 30 years has flown by. But of course we have the best seafood restaurant in town, Tony & Joe’s, with a magnificent view of the Kennedy Center.
A Ockershausen: Well I’ll never forget, after the restaurant had been open like two months you had a review in the Washington Post that was a knockout.
Tony Cibel: Spectacular.
A Ockershausen: It really put you on the map.
Tony Cibel: Phyllis Richmond said, “Tony & Joe’s, a contender on the waterfront.” And ever since that, boom we took off like crazy and 30 years later we’re still going.
A Ockershausen: Well Tony, obviously once people sampled it they came back. And they came back and back and back. And now the world has changed as we both know in 30 years. There’s a whole new world out there that are finding out about your restaurant.
Tony Cibel: That’s true, that’s very true. We’re going to run some specials for our anniversary month in October.
A Ockershausen: The whole month of October?
Tony Cibel: The whole month of October you can go online to tonyandjoes.com and read about the specials. A lot of them will be priced from 1987.
A Ockershausen: Wow!
Tony Cibel: Correct.
A Ockershausen: Maybe we ought to sample those before you do it.
Tony Cibel: Oh no, I sample them daily.
A Ockershausen: Well Tony, the things that I know about the restaurant, let’s say it started with your interest in the restaurant business with the Dancing Crab. I don’t think a lot of people know that there was a Tony Cibel before there was a restaurant. You had a liquor store and very successful liquor store.
Tony Cibel: And I also had a carryout over in Northeast called Soul Palace. That was my first restaurant.
A Ockershausen: And it was successful.
Tony Cibel: Very successful.
A Ockershausen: And now you’re back in Northeast in Ivy City.
Tony Cibel: Ivy City Smokehouse, which has just been open for a year and it is taking off. The Tavern upstairs and then downstairs our smoker. We’re going to go national with our smoking products, Ivy City Smoke products.
A Ockershausen: Food products, huh?
Tony Cibel: That’s correct, Ivy City Smokehouse fish. And it’s taking off. It’s a wonderful product. We’re in country clubs around here. We’re in delicatessens.
A Ockershausen: Do you offer an Ivy City menu at Tony & Joe’s?
Tony Cibel: We have a lot of the product –
A Ockershausen: – a lot of the product here.
Tony Cibel: – at Tony & Joe’s. And it will say right on the menu, Ivy City Smoke House –
A Ockershausen: – Right I have noticed that.
Tony Cibel: – Smoked Salmon and so forth. Yeah.
A Ockershausen: You’ve gotten to be a conglomerate now with Nick’s Riverside Grill and you’re still in to that as I recall.
Tony Cibel: Yes.
A Ockershausen: Nobody could operate that but you.
Tony Cibel: Well, my son Nick, who’s a wonderful boy . . . I went to Florida one weekend, for the weekend, and it was Riverside Grill when I left. When I came back it said, Nick’s Riverside Grill. I said, “Nick, I didn’t get the check.” What’s the story here, you know? But he’s been running it for 25 years.
A Ockershausen: No way.
Tony Cibel: 25 years.
A Ockershausen: 25 years! Come on, Tony.
Tony Cibel: And Tony & Joe’s is the only original restaurant at Washington Harbour.
A Ockershausen: I understand, you survived.
Tony Cibel: Yes, we did. We more than survived. We put Washington Harbour on the map.
A Ockershausen: Part of the thing I lived through with you because I love the restaurant and everything you do, and lived through, you’ve had some bad times Tony. But you survive and that doesn’t happen to a lot of people in your business. Usually food people have a crisis and they go out of business. But you had the crisis of all time with the flood.
Tony Cibel: The flood was tough, yeah. But 30 years is amazing for a restaurant. I don’t think there is 50 or 60 restaurants in the whole area that have been in the business for 30 years.
A Ockershausen: I can only count about 5 or 10. I mean, I don’t know that.
Tony Cibel: We had the Dancing Crab for 30 years also.
A Ockershausen: Oh yeah.
Tony Cibel: We’re pretty well experienced.
A Ockershausen: The flood almost did you in though because there were a lot of people out of work. But you saved a lot of people too.
Tony Cibel: I saved 50 jobs by opening outside with a grill and we had the bars.
A Ockershausen: Right.
Tony Cibel: But it was tough.
A Ockershausen: It was a long time. What was it, 15, 16 months?
Tony Cibel: It was two years.
A Ockershausen: You closed for two years.
Tony Cibel: Two years and fortunately I had saved a little money so I could survive.
A Ockershausen: And you had some insurance money, did you not?
Tony Cibel: Not for me, for the rebuilding of the restaurant.
A Ockershausen: But that didn’t take care of the people, you took care of the people.
Tony Cibel: Correct. 20 people.
A Ockershausen: Well Tony, again, I can’t say enough about how important it is, the continuity you and your family have had continuity. And that’s important to the success of the restaurant.
Tony Cibel: No question. And my nephew Greg Casten has been running the situation for years.
A Ockershausen: He started as a real kid, didn’t he?
Tony Cibel: Well all my kids started at the Crab as busboys.
A Ockershausen: Right, a job. Right. But they learned the business.
Tony Cibel: They learned it. They know more about it than I do.
A Ockershausen: Well that’s your secret.
Tony Cibel: They never worked in the kitchen, I didn’t work in the kitchen.
A Ockershausen: You let them run it.
Tony Cibel: Well.
A Ockershausen: Tony it’s like a family affair.
Tony Cibel: Course it’s a family business.
A Ockershausen: Nick came back, Nick was running it. But I thought Dean was absolutely going to be a baseball player.
Tony Cibel: So did I.
A Ockershausen: A big league player, he was really good.
Tony Cibel: I know. I was ready to move back to Boston because I was going to have him sign with the Red Sox.
A Ockershausen: Wouldn’t you love that?
Tony Cibel: Yeah.
A Ockershausen: Well Tony, this has been a great thing that happened in October the 9th, the 30th anniversary.
Tony Cibel: 30th anniversary
A Ockershausen: It’s a 30th anniversary.
Tony Cibel: Unbelievable.
A Ockershausen: And you’re going to have the whole month as a celebration.
Tony Cibel: That’s correct.
A Ockershausen: And it’s been great. I think Tony Cibel was one of our first guest on Our Town, he got us off to a start. People tell me that they hear. . . they love your commercials. I am going to end this program by letting you do a commercial for Tony & Joe’s.
Tony Cibel: Hi everybody, Tony & Joe’s is celebrating 30 years with the city’s best seafood, spectacular views of the Kennedy Center, Watergate, Roosevelt Island, it’s just a wonderful pleasure. And inside and outside dining and Sunday brunches that are unbelievable. So come on down and see us. We’ll be celebrating the month of October with specials, 1987 prices on some of the … On our website you can see it at tonyandjoes.com.
A Ockershausen: Well, this has been Our Town. It’s been Tony Cibel and Tony & Joe’s. We hope you have 30 more great years Ton.
Tony Cibel: Me too, I hope that all of us have 30 more years.
A Ockershausen: This is Andy Ockershausen and this is Our Town.
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