Born and raised in Santa Monica, Tony P’s General Manager Ron Knoll knows the ins and outs of the restaurant business pretty well. After all, his family ran the Knoll’s Black Forest Inn in Santa Monica for more than 40 years.
Heck, Ron even worked managing restaurants in Stuttgart and Munich, Germany, where he oversaw restaurant operations during the biggest beer celebration ever – OktoberFest. “At Seehaus in Munich, we had 2,000 seats in our beer garden and 12,000 to 15,000 liters of beer in the basement,” he said. Ron has been a General Manager at Tony P’s since 2019 when a recruiter suggested that he interview with Danny and Tony. He said this restaurant is very different from some of the other, corporate-run restaurants where he has worked in the past. “I grew up in a family business running a restaurant, and that is exactly what this is,” he said. “It’s a different environment. Our focus is to take care of our customers and do it well. It’s very down to earth.” Ron and his wife, Kristin, a special needs educator who works for the El Segundo Unified School District, have lived in Westchester since 1991. They have four grown sons, including a set of identical twins.
Since the time he stood next to his mother in their Oaxaca kitchen growing up, Eloy Reyes has loved to cook. And whether it was homemade salsa or burritos, he discovered that he had a flair for whipping up things that make people happy.
“I love cooking,” he said. “From the beginning, it was always easy for me. When I was little, I was the oldest, so I had no choice but to help my mother in the kitchen.”
When he was 16-years-old, Eloy came to the United States. He looked for the first job he could find, working as a day laborer outside a Home Depot. And while he ended up getting a regular job working for a gardening company, it was his cooking that always got the attention.
“I would cook lunch for myself every day, and my boss always used to ask me to cook for him, too,” Eloy said.
Eventually, Eloy found his way into a number of restaurant jobs and finally came to Tony P’s, where he started working the pasta station. His skill in the kitchen enabled him to rise to the level of supervisor, where he worked for 24 years.
In 2020, Eloy was named head chef at Tony P’s. He keeps the recipes for the restaurant’s extensive menu items in his head, and can tell you, to the last tomato, what is in the restaurant’s storeroom and fridge.
Eloy said he can’t pick a favorite item from the Tony P’s menu, but he said the weather often determines what the restaurant serves.
“When it’s cold, people want pasta,” he said. “When it’s hot, people order salads or something light. No matter what they order, the best part of my job is when people taste what I make and say, ‘I love it.'"
Of course, Jack can tell you the best steak on the menu or which pizza is his favorite (the Eloy, if you’re asking), but he can also tell you whether Nightwing is a Marvel or DC comic (DC) and what metal is bonded to Wolverine’s bones (adamantium). You see, between shifts at Tony P’s, much of Jack’s spare time is spent collecting comic books.
“I started with one or two, but now, I’ve got to have one or two each week,” said Jack, who admits he’s addicted. “I enjoy them, but I don’t do it as an investment. I like the artwork and the stories.”
Jack has worked at Tony P’s since 2009, and said his favorite part of working at the restaurant is the high quality of both the food and the people. “We get a lot of people from the hotel’s next door because we have a sports tavern, we have a great menu and we’re easy to get to. The thing that makes my job easy is the quality and consistency of the food,” he said. And while he admits to liking lots of things on the menu, his real affinity is for the dessert menu.
“I have a sweet tooth,” he said. “The brownie sundae really hits the spot.” Jack lives in Santa Monica, where his father, Lewis, spent 28 years as a police officer and said having a few super powers of his own wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, especially when things get busy at Tony P’s. “I think super speed would come in handy sometimes,” he said.
There’s no one at Tony P’s ready to give you a better deal than Joey! After all, he started his career as a casino dealer, dealing up everything from blackjack to pai-gow. “I was known for giving away all the big hands,” he joked. “I gave up so many big pots, they promoted me to pit boss.”
At Tony P’s, Joey spent six years as a server and met his wife Katrina who was a hostess. They took a break to go back to Joey’s casino roots in Northern California for a few years. Shortly after returning to Southern California, Joey joined Tony P’s as a manager. Now, with a new baby daughter, Ava, Joey is happy to be back in the fold at Tony P’s. “It’s a fun vibe working here,” he said. “I think that’s the reasons so many people have been here so long. Management is close to everyone, and it’s a real family place. My wife and daughter come here all the time, and a lot of my closest friends are either co-workers or regular customers.”
Ava has changed Joey’s life a lot. “My hobbies have changed quite a bit since she arrived,” he said. “I used to be all about golfing and working out, but now I’m home with Ava and our Pug Rocky.” But Ava certainly hasn’t ended all of Joey’s fun. He can often be found singing “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and other Elvis standards in karaoke bars around town. “My uncle was an Elvis impersonator, so I’ve been singing Elvis since I was 3-years-old,” Joey said.