In the case of this big Falls Church-wide gala event Tuesday, there was no well-greased organizational effort to maximize the turnout. There were few if any individual invitations mailed out, few phone call or email reminders. There was an ad in the News-Press and that was it…but that’s all it took.
The word got out that Faye and Tony Yiannarakis were throwing a party to celebrate the 40th anniversary of one of the City’s most cherished institutions, Anthony’s Family Restaurant at 309 W. Broad St. People came from everywhere, including legends of earlier days in Falls Church like former City Manager David Lasso and former Chamber of Commerce executive Robert S. “Hap” Day (Day was slow-moving with the assistance of his walker he calls Gertrude and two offspring, but there was a look of determination in his eyes that nothing was going to keep him away).
Mayor Nader Baroukh and Vice Mayor David Snyder were there to extend heartfelt greetings to Tony, Faye, their two now-grown children, Ted and Penny, son-in-law Pete and seven-month-old grandchild, Michael. No big speeches, Tony exemplified his humility and candor in brief expressions of thanks to everyone.
Who has lived in Falls Church for any length of time, who has ever had to feed a family, or a Little League team, on the kind of food they love most for a reasonable price, who doesn’t know Anthony’s? How many birthdays and anniversaries have been celebrated in that back room, where celebrants can gather set apart from the rest of the establishment, to sing and cheer?
Anthony’s is, and has been for twice as long as the News-Press has been around, the real deal. We’ve seen their kids grow up there, and we’ve never seen Tony and Faye looking better than they do now. This is not an absentee ownership operation: for an independent restaurant to succeed, the owners have to be there almost every day to make sure it all gets done right.
Moreover, it’s a very big week for special anniversaries of local Falls Church businesses. Tonight, May 24, Sisler’s Stone is celebrating its 70th anniversary, an amazing achievement. We’d call it a “milestone” event, but Sisler’s may think they should to cut such a stone if we did!
There is something truly gratifying to be said for the kind of longevity these establishments are celebrating this week. Falls Church used to honor businesses that reached a 25-year anniversary in the City, and if this annual recognition has been suspended, it should be restored.
In these times, if you’re not a franchise of a big corporation, chances of making it as any kind of small business are slim. The statistic is daunting: 90 percent of all new small business start-ups fail in the first five years.
So, making it no mean feat. And making it while enjoying the love of the community you’ve served for 40 years or more is really special.