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Tallyrand restaurant has provided a sense of home for 60 years

NBC4’s Fritz Coleman starts the event with the current Tallyrand owners and founding owner Delores T
NBC4’s Fritz Coleman starts the event with the current Tallyrand owners and founding owner Delores Thomas, in wheelchair, at an anniversary celebration on Tuesday, April 30, 2019, celebrating the 60th year the Tallyrand restaurant has been in Burbank.
(Tim Berger / Burbank Leader)

For some customers the Tallyrand restaurant in Burbank is a spot to grab a warm meal or a cocktail, but for others it serves up a sense of community.

Regardless of whether a patron is a first-timer or a regular, co-owners and sister and brother Karen Ross and Mark Thomas, as well as their staff, have made it a priority to treat every customer as if they were family.

It is because of their hospitality, according to the duo, that their family’s business, located at 1700 W. Olive Ave., has been around for 60 years, and possibly for another year — maybe even a decade.

On Tuesday, the restaurant celebrated its 60th anniversary, offering hot turkey sandwiches and coffee for the price of those items when the restaurant first opened in 1959, according to a member of the staff. Also, slices of cake and glasses of sparking white wine were passed around to commemorate the occasion.

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The restaurant was packed with customers, and KNBC weathercaster Fritz Coleman was there to emcee a small event to honor Ross and Thomas.

However, after all the fanfare had subsided, Tallyrand was back to being a humble place to eat on Wednesday. That morning felt like any other day at the restaurant as people came and went to grab breakfast.

“I was pretty emotional [Tuesday], but usually my head is all about the business,” said Thomas, 63, who is the restaurant’s head cook. “It was nice to take a break and not think about the business. It just sort of hit me, but now I have to move on and keep working.”

Ross, 55, who handles the overall operations of the business, concurred with her brother, adding that it was overwhelming — in a good way — to see and think about all of the people who have come and gone throughout the years.

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“You grow close with a lot of customers,” she said. “We celebrate weddings together, babies together and just live life together. That’s the beauty of it.”

A happy crew wearing 60th anniversary tee shirts at an anniversary celebration for the 60th year the
Crew members wear 60th anniversary T-shirts at a celebration at the Tallyrand restaurant in Burbank on Tuesday, April 30, 2019.
(Tim Berger / Burbank Leader)

Marisa Sanders, a waitress who has worked at Tallyrand for nearly 30 years, said she’s established many friendships with customers and even invited several of them to her wedding.

“They’re part of my everyday life, and they’ve been through my ups and downs with me,” Sanders said. “I wanted them to be there with us, and it was important for me for them to be there.”

Tallyrand was started by the co-owners’ parents, Al and Delores Thomas, in March 1959.

“We’ve seen generations of families come in here — from grandparents to their adult grandchildren,” Ross said. “You really see the decades that you’ve been serving people, and it’s pretty amazing.

The inviting home-style meals may be what initially hooks customers, but Ross and Mark Thomas said it’s the relationships they’ve cultivated with their customers that keeps them coming back.

“There’s a sense of calm here, and I do think this is a safe place for a lot of people,” Ross said. “For some, we are their family or their social outing.”

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With 60 years now in the books, Ross and Mark Thomas said business at Tallyrand will continue for as long as possible, though none of their children plan to take it over. Until someone in the family changes their mind, Ross and Mark Thomas said they’ll continue providing warm meals and friendly conversations to those who need them.

“We’re not young chicks anymore, but hopefully we’ll continue doing our thing for at least five or 10 more years,” Ross said.

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