.

Papa T's: 30 Years Later

Owner Patty Fox looks back as the restaurant gears up to celebrate 30 years in Tolland on Sunday, June 10.

When Patty Fox and her father, Anthony Tantillo, first opened 30 years ago in 1982, they had their fair share of obstacles in front of them.

"Really, we just winged it," Fox said. To fund the start up, Fox said she and her father only used tips she had collected as a cocktail waitress.

Fox, who was 19 years old, worked side by side with her 57-year-old father to get the restaurant ready. She said it had been vacant for a number of years, after the pharmacy that used the building closed down.
Papa T's started with only six kitchen chairs and a counter and its menus pinned onto the walls.

"There were many days we'd open, close, sleep and come back," Fox said of the early years. And though she and her father worked nearly non-stop, they were able to make it through due to the generosity of other businesses.

"A lot of people gave me credit, which got us started," Fox said, citing T&R Wholesale Foods of Massachusetts as one of many who gave Papa T's a helping hand, a gesture she said she still appreciates three decades later.

Let Patch save you time. Get great local stories like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone every day with our free newsletter. Simple, fast sign-up here.

The odds were against Fox and Tantillo, but Tolland almost immediately warmed to the new restaurant.

"I think the community was excited to have a diner, a place to have breakfast," Fox said. "We were very blessed."

And while a 30th anniversary is strong proof of a successfully run business, life could have taken a very different road for Fox. She was planning on going to college to become an X-ray technician when her father told her that they were going to open a business together.

"You don't want to work for somebody," Fox recalled her father saying. She said he was very concerned that his two daughters live independent lives. "In hindsight, I think he knew the world was changing, and he didn't want us to get left behind."

But even though running a restaurant wasn't Fox's first career choice, she said the experience has shaped her life for the better.

"I can't see my life without it," she said. "I think it's been a good run."

Fox can look back fondly on most of the years in Tolland, but she did say that running the business became very difficult after her father passed away five years ago.

Fox said she started to doubt her ability to keep Papa T's going. She and Tantillo had been running the restaurant together since the very beginning.

But it was one of her regular customers, Stephen Amedy, who restored Fox's confidence while paying his respects at her father's funeral.

"I told him, 'I'm really scared. I'm scared of not having my father run this business with me,'" Fox said. But Amedy knew that Fox always had the ability to shoulder the responsibility on her own.

"'You've been running it for years, and you just don't know it,'" Fox recalled him saying. "I said to myself, 'He's right.'"

Amedy has also passed on, but Fox still carries his words of encouragement with her. She knows that Papa T's will continue to serve food with the best ingredients with friendly customer service and a focus on family. It will keep up that warm atmosphere that has made the restaurant a gathering place for her friends, Tolland residents and any travelers passing through town on I-84.

"This isn't my place," she said. "It's Tolland's place."

Come help Papa T's celebrate from noon to 4 p.m. Visitors can enjoy free food, live music and great raffle prizes.

Long time resident June 08, 2012 at 01:28 PM
I'm really happy to see Steve Amedy being acknowledged here. He was a Papr T's major fan and the encouragement he gave Patty is an example of the encouragement and optimism he showed everyone. Two long time Tolland icons.
Vicki Daniels June 08, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Thank you Papa T's for your wonderful food, kind staff, and the home like attitude you have provided for all of us. It has given Tolland residents a place to see new and old friends in a welcoming place.
Rick Field June 08, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Papa T's has been a friend to the town from the beginning. When we moved to Tolland in 1983 we were treated like 20 year customers. Congratulations Patty and staff, Papa T is up there smiling.
Helen Orr June 08, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Congratulations Patty - it has been a good run for you and your staff and my family has enjoyed every year of it!! Keep up the great work Helen/Rob Orr
Carol David June 08, 2012 at 04:41 PM
One of our favorite places for the 17 years we lived in Tolland. We all miss the pizza terribly...how about opening a "Papa T's Prescott, AZ?"
Dave Barnas June 08, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Congratulations Patty!
Jenna June 08, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Patty!!!! I <3 you!! Congrats!!!! and I will be seeing u on Sunday with Brenna!! Jenna
Bernadette Maheu June 08, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Bernadette & Mickey Maheu Patty, We have been going to Papa T's for years with our daughters. We continue to go now with our grandchildren. You do have the best pizza! Congratulations on your 30 year anniversary!
Christopher zaccaro June 08, 2012 at 09:25 PM
Great job patty! Keep up the amazing work! Best restaurant in connecticut!
George Bing June 08, 2012 at 11:21 PM
Congrats Patty & Papa T's We've lived in Tolland for 26 of those 30 years. Our kids still come home and want pizza from Papa T's. Some years ago when we considered a move, we couldn't leave the spirit of Tolland embodied by Papa T's. Love Tolland & Papa T's. You're both a part of our fabric!!
Tina Spallacci June 08, 2012 at 11:46 PM
Congrats my friend!! I have so many great memories of our crazy antics.....if those walls could talk...well you know!!!
heidi June 09, 2012 at 01:38 AM
Congratulations patty! Miss you and papa t ;)
Karen Moran June 10, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Congratulations Patty and staff at Papa T's! We have been eating at Papa T's since our kids were both in their infant carriers propped in the booth with us! They are now 10 and 7 years old! We all enjoy the pizza, food and friendly family atmosphere! I don't know what Tolland would do without YOU!

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »