It’s official! Construction is almost complete and we have set a moving date.
Our location at 395 S. Limestone will be closing Sunday morning at 5 am on May 15, 2011. From now until then is your last chance to swing by the old Ho.
We’ve been on Limestone for almost 25 years and have a lot of great memories there. We’ve seen a lot of customers pass through our doors and know a lot of people by name. We’re feeling pretty nostalgic. The Spring Semester at UK ended yesterday. And now we know that next week we’ll be moving. And although our employees will miss the place that a lot of them have called home for over a decade, we won’t have time to be sad.
Tolly-Ho will be closed for three or four days while we transition to our new place a couple of blocks closer to Broadway. We’re moving some equipment, setting up registers, moving decor, and having employee meetings. We plan to reopen on either Wednesday or Thursday, May 18 or 19. Our opening time will be at 6 am, just in time to stop and get a hot breakfast sandwich and a $0.69 breakfast coffee. To find out the exact opening date, keep checking on our website and Facebook.
We have some great plans for our new location. You’ll still be able to get your favorite burgers, sides, shakes and breakfasts. But we’re expanding our menu to include some salads, specialty pancakes, and more. Swing by and check out the new menu at the end of the week.
We do have some changes planned for our old S Limestone location. We’ll still be a restaurant, though you won’t be able to get burgers and fries. We’ll sell cold sandwiches, salads and such, and will have less seating. We’re really focusing on our great dessert spread. We’ll have sundaes, shakes, and a beautiful banana split. We’ll also have some special treats. We’re also making way for an expanded Ho-Mart. We’ll sell cigarettes, bottled drinks, beer, snacks, and other convenience store items. Over time, we’ll expand Ho-Mart to include all of the things you need. This updated location on South Limestone Street will reopen the following week.
Work is coming along nicely on our new location. If you’ve driven by our new building at 606 South Broadway, you may have noticed our first sign going up. The familiar Tolly-Ho awning has been installed over the new front door.
There’s still lots planned for the outside of the building. There’s talk of neon and landscaping. There will definitely be no parking in front of the building – only along the sides. There will be TONS of parking compared to our old location. Also, several months after opening, we’ll be adding a Curbside Carryout called “Ho-To-Go”. You’ll pull your car up to the side entrance and a server will bring out your Ho food!
Inside, construction is still a work in progress. The floors and walls are mostly completed. The new counters are in, and some of the frames for the menu boards are up. Ho Mart is in place. But there’s still a lot of work to be done.
The final result will be a bigger, more robust Tolly-Ho with more walking space, more elbow room near the counter, a more organized work space for us, and maybe even some cooler new booths. It will still have the same feel as our current location, the same games, the same employees, and of course, the same great food!
In addition to opening a new location of Tolly-Ho, we will be opening a bakery across town. We use a variety of breads in Tolly-Ho, including both small and large sesame seed buns, Ho-made hoagie rolls, raisin bread, wheat and white bread, and Texas Toast – to hit the high notes.
After spending years looking around town for our bread, we have been disappointed time and time again. While planning the upgrades to Tolly-Ho, we were inspired create our own bakery. To ensure consistency and quality, our buns and rolls will now be made by our own Tolly-Dough.
Tolly-Dough will also be responsible for making some special treats such as muffins and sticky buns that will be baked fresh as a daily special in the mornings (while they last). These will be available at Tolly-Ho as well as in the retail shop of Tolly-Dough. We’ll have more information on that coming soon.
As the old construction saying goes, expect your construction project to cost twice as much and take twice as long as you planned. We had hoped to open during the spring semester. We’re pushing hard on that deadline and are on track to open in a few weeks. As soon as we have an opening date, it will be posted on our calendar, on the front page, and on the news page.
So stay posted. To get the news first, you can subscribe to our RSS feed. Or, if you’re the more relaxed type, swing by the restaurant on Limestone. The staff working the line will be happy to let you know as soon as the date is announced.
Tolly-Ho Restaurant first opened its doors in November of 1971 across Winslow Street from its current location at what used to be 108 W. Euclid Ave. In May of 1987, one of the founders – Bob Holopeter – relocated the restaurant to its current location at 395 S. Limestone. In the Spring of 2011, we will be moving to 606 S. Broadway.
We have happily rented the building we are in for many years and have been waiting for the right opportunity to purchase a building of our own for the last couple of years. We have made what we considered substantial offers on properties in the past but it turns out we are just a little fish in a mighty big pond.
However, now the time is right and we have purchased a new location for Tolly-Ho. We’re very excited and are only waiting for the proper permits to begin construction.
We’ve been looking for a place of our own for years. We’re like that young married couple that’s been renting and saving and is excited about buying our own home. Never mind that we’re 40 years old – we’re young at heart!
If you’re concerned that we’re going to redecorate and change Tolly-Ho – don’t be! As a restaurant, compare us to our menu. Over the years, we’ve added sandwiches, we’ve taken things off the menu. We’ve made new omelets and moved things around. But the core items that make Tolly-Ho what it is have never changed. When you walk into the new building, you’ll look around and see new stuff. You’ll see the same counter and the same wood walls. You’ll see the familiar paddles but the new reversed layout of the building. But you’ll walk in and it will FEEL like Tolly-Ho. You’ll feel comfortable in a business suit, a prom gown, or all sweaty in your running shoes straight from the 5k. And the new location is a quick 3-minute walk from the old location and most importantly – will have 15 TIMES MORE PARKING!!! So don’t get too excited yet. We’re waiting for our restaurant permit before we start doing any real work. Then it will take some time to complete the renovations. The new location has a bit more space, so we’re planning a more organized kitchen so our cooks don’t bump into each other so much when we’re busy. The dining room will be bigger, so you’ll have more elbow room to play video games while waiting for your food. But don’t worry, we aren’t expanding and we aren’t turning into a chain. Tolly-Ho will still be the same old Tolly-Ho you know and love.
We’re expecting to open in early 2011. And we want our loyal Tolly-Ho customers to be involved as soon as we get started. We want your input, opinions and support! As for the rumor about us closing up – the longest you may have to do without your Tolly-Ho fix is several days while we move the last of the fixtures from the old location to the new. The counter and the grill will be the last to go, but every last old friend will go with us!
The goal with this new website was to reflect more of the personality of Tolly-Ho and give those who have never visited us a feel for what we’re about. If you do know all about us, you may be asking yourself – if Tolly-Ho is a small business with no advertising budget, how can they have such an AWESOME website? Well, Roy – that’s the owner – is well known around here for cultivating talent. In this case, Stephenie – webmaster extraordinaire – has worked at Tolly-Ho since 1993. She was a server for a couple of years, the day shift manager for 7 years, then worked part-time as she went to school full-time. Now her passion on the side is Web Programming and she wanted the opportunity to play with the Tolly-Ho site for the cost of the software/hardware to build it. We hope you enjoy it. If you think it’s cool – send kudos. If you hate it, well – consider what we paid for it! Ha!
Our menu is best known for things like the Tolly-Ho family of burgers that include the Tolly-Ho quarter-pounder, the Super-Ho, the Mega-Ho and the Big Tolly. We also have sandwiches, side items, drinks, desserts, milkshakes, and breakfasts served 24 hours a day.So what makes our menu interesting? Besides the old-fashioned and aged marquee, that is? Why it’s the 40 years of love that go inside.
Tolly-Ho was started by two guys that shared a love for burgers. The Bobs. Bob Tolley and Bob HO-llopeter. Bob Hollopeter is the Bob that’s loved and remembered as “Papa Ho”. He worked Tolly-Ho every week until he retired in his 60’s and sold the restaurant to a young 29 year-old upstart named Roy who somehow shared his old-fashioned values and ideals. Their common values included the idea that the owner of Tolly-Ho should be hands-on – working the restaurant every week so they could be in touch with the food, the customers, and the employees. And just like Bob was from 1971-1991, Roy has continued that same tradition.
Tolly-Ho has been around so long because the owner is hands-on and involved in the day-to-day operations of the restaurant. And the menu. He tries samples of all of the food that passes through. He tastes the sauces before we buy them. Who do you think picked that awesome BBQ? The man who loves to grill out at home! He makes sure we have REAL grilled chicken – not some processed thing. And he wants real cheese. Sometimes he travels to visit friends and family. You can thank his time spent in Jacksonville, Florida for the Tolly-Ho Limeade. That’s why we’ve had it for years! And because he has a friend in Pennsylvania – we have the best Philly around! He tries not to let the menu get too big. It still has to be simple enough that one cook can manage everything and that the grill doesn’t get overcrowded with lots of different items when the line is out the door. There’s a balance to everything. He’s a businessman, but he’s a SMALL businessman.
To understand Tolly-Ho, you need to understand that our passion is to provide for our customers “A tradition of quality food with quick and friendly service in a clean and unique atmosphere”. We do that by focusing on three main objectives: Quality, Service and Cleanliness. We buy quality products from the front to the back of the house. The owner tries every product we buy. Our servers have to pass a test before they are hired and our kitchen staff works in the back for over a year before they can cook by themselves.
Speaking of employees, we did a little math. Did you know that the average employee over the last 20 years has worked for Tolly-Ho for 3 years!?! In the restaurant business, that’s AMAZING!! And that includes the people that work for a month and leave or only work for us a few weeks. We get that like any restaurant – people who think it would be fun before they realize that a job is a JOB. Working at Tolly-Ho is hard work. But it can also be fun and once you’ve proven you’re sticking around, it’s more like being in a family than anything. We all help each other out.
As for cleanliness – let’s talk about Moma Ho. Most of you have seen her buzzing around the restaurant late at night. She talks to people and hangs around. Did you know that her #1 job is to make sure that the restaurant is running smoothly and that the customers are happy? While she does that, she does something she loves to do – get to know our customers. We love that and so do our customers. But did you know that she also has another job? She comes in during other times or when we’re slow and makes sure that the restaurant is clean. I’m talking about the extra cleaning the employees don’t have the time to get to, like dusting the stuff up on the walls and scrubbing things. We’re a 24-hour restaurant. We don’t get to do deep cleaning after we close because we don’t close. We’re so thankful to have her. So if you see her, give her a big (gentle) hug. Or maybe swing over and check out her Moma Ho Blog.
By the way – though the place does get messy, if you want to know how clean it really is, here’s the true test of a restaurant. Find out how many ex-employees eat there. At Tolly-Ho, a good portion of our regular customers are ex-employees. They know that not even the 1-second rule applies at Tolly-Ho! And as for the unique atmosphere – we credit that to our customers!
Tolly-Ho is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Almost. We do occasionally close for holidays and special events. A “special event” would be an ice storm that shuts down the city. Wait! We didn’t have to close for that! Special events are generally when we decide to close for a few days for deep cleaning or maintenance. We usually try to schedule these around holidays or other times when business is typically slow. Those dates will be posted on the website and posted in advance in the restaurant. We usually close for Christmas Eve night and Christmas Day, but are open for New Years Eve and New Years Day. But since we’re a small business, we can change our mind, so check the site and look for signs. If you want to know if we’re open on a holiday, you can call the restaurant. If we’re open, we’ll answer. If not, you’ll get a machine telling you we’re closed. If you get neither, we’re probably so busy that the regular line and the call waiting are tied up, so wait a few minutes and call back!
We offer some distinct foods that are unique to the area or to Tolly-Ho. We sell Kentucky Silk Pie which we can best described as eating a light fluffy chocolate ice cream pie on a sweet sh0rtbread crust. Our words, of course. We also sell Ale-8 and Diet Ale-8. We have some serious Ale-8 junkies out there. They love their Winchester Swamp Water. No offense Ale-8. That’s a term of endearment. We also make the occasional round of homemade desserts. We have made puddings and pies and such in the past. We currently sell homemade brownies. They are oh-so-yummy served warm with ice cream and chocolate or caramel on top.
And one of the things that Tolly-Ho is most well-known for is our Cheddar Tots. We’ve seen other businesses try to duplicate these but they just aren’t the same. We’ve had them since 2001 and they’re one of our biggest sellers. So keep coming in for those tots – for the unknowing – they’re like tator tots with cheddar cheese in the middle. And we’ll keep making them like you like them. Oh, and for something different – try them with chili on top!
Tolly-Ho’s plate average goes from $2 – $15. You can eat on a tight budget if you like. Our breakfasts are inexpensive, tasty and satisfying. Our small cheeseburgers make a quick, inexpensive snack. You can also have the ultimate Triple-Decker Mega-Ho burger with a cheese of your choice and everything we can think to put on it – fresh mushrooms, crisp and fresh bacon, an egg, or jalepenos. You can grab any delicious side item and top it off with a tasty milkshake with one or multiple mix-ins like caramel Oreo. We can satisfy any budget or hedonistic desire. Or, if you’re a purist, like 40 years ago you can still get the simple Tolly-Ho with Cheese, Fries and a Pepsi.
There’s no corporate office to call if there’s a problem. If something’s not running smoothly enough or we decide to make a menu change, the owner just changes it. He’s in touch with the daily operation of the restaurant, and has a feel for the crowd. He works the busiest shift and feels the same stresses as his employees. When something doesn’t run efficiently, he knows it and works to take care of his employees.
Tolly-Ho doesn’t have any corporate structure to support. There are no offices to pay for. There is no advertising. We pay for rent, utilities, food, supplies, employees and general maintenance and overhead. That’s how we are able to buy such quality products and still sell them at reasonable prices.
We get really, really busy at night. This begs the question – why not expand? Be like the fast food joints and put in multiple registers. Make the kitchen bigger and put in automatic fryers. We could really make a lot of money. Or so we’re told. That’s just not what we’re about. That’s not what the owner is about and that’s not what Tolly-Ho is about. The owner is about coming in and cooking his busy shift with his small crew he knows and loves. He works hard and he goes home to his family. That’s all he wants. Tolly-Ho is about coming in at night and waiting in line to order. Standing around with your friends when it’s crazy and elbow to elbow at the counter for your food. Catching a table just as it’s cleared and laughing about something that happened at the place you just left with your friends as you eat that juicy burger, awesome cheese fries and fantastic shake you just couldn’t get anywhere else. The experience wouldn’t be the same in a place like these fast food joints. Nobody would remember their late-night trips to Tolly-Ho fondly.
You might think that when we get busy, we precook our burgers like the fast food joints or something. NO WE DON”T. We still wait until we get those orders in the kitchen before we load everything. We have a system. Once we get those tickets, they get called out and everything gets loaded. Your food is cooked to order every time you come in, whether we’re slow or we have a line out the door.
One fun little thing that makes your Tolly-Ho waiting time a little more enjoyable is the JukeBox and the selection of pinball machines and video games scattered around the restaurant. You can get into a game of old-fashioned Galaga or Donkey Kong, which always brings back memories for what we call the “Old Hos”. The younger crowd likes them too. We also have Mega-Touch machines and newer games. Come check out the latest selections while we’re cooking your hot breakfast or your juicy Ho-burger.
You can satisfy your French Toast craving at dinnertime or still catch breakfast at noon when you oversleep on Saturday. You can also have an Omelet and a Tolly-Ho burger anytime if you like. That’s the beauty of Tolly-Ho’s breakfast anytime. Oh – and when you order breakfast, you get coffee for 75 cents.
We rock it old-school. We still write your order on (gasp!) a piece of paper. You food is cooked by short-order cooks, not computerized fryers and teenagers with one day of training. Those things have their place, but not in Tolly-Ho. We still ask your name just like we did 40 years ago and yell for you to come get your food.
People don’t just come to Tolly-Ho for the food. For decades, students have come to Tolly-Ho all hours of the day and night to study or just walk for a minute and grab a bite or a fresh cup of coffee. Groups of people of all walks of life meet here for various reasons on a regular and not so regular basis. (Quick shout-out to the old Thursday Night Crowd from the ’90’s)
We can talk about all the things that make Tolly-Ho special, but the bottom line is that Tolly-Ho is a restaurant. We serve food. And if the food isn’t good, people won’t come back in. No matter how fun the atmosphere is or how nice your server is, the food has to be good and good every time. That’s what we do at Tolly-Ho. Quality food starts with quality ingredients. We buy high quality, name brand foods, like Kraft, Pillsbury, Tyson, General Mills, Quaker, Fisher, Pioneer, Heinz, Hunts, French’s, Oreo, Reese’s, Hershey’s, Smucker’s, T. Marzetti’s, and many, many, more. Our Burgers are made with beef from a local meat company, where it is ground fresh daily, and never frozen. Our eggs are cooked to order from fresh, whole eggs. We use fresh cut veggies on our sandwiches, and only “REAL” cheese. We don’t skimp on quality or quantity to save a few bucks or make more profit. Our eye is always on the bottom line. The bottom line is that our customers’ final product needs to taste BETTER than we would want our food to taste and look.
Though the owner is a bit of a homebody (his favorite pastimes are to watch movies, fish and play basketball with his kids and grandkids), he does recognize the importance of local interaction. Because Tolly-Ho doesn’t advertise, we don’t have a budget to give donations, but we are able to help in other ways. We’re not going to spread those around too much, but we’ve been involved with many a UK Fraternity and Sorority over the years. To see our relationship with the UK Greek culture, just check out the our walls sometimes! Also make sure you swing by the area for UK Football Homecoming Weekend. There’s a fun window-decorating contest and we provide our window as a canvas.