Falbo’s 3rd generation keeps restaurant all in the family
When longtime Falbo’s Restaurant and Lounge owner Tony Falbo began mulling over retirement earlier this year, he and his two older daughters began planning the future of the Latrobe business.
Falbo hoped to turn over the reins to a third generation, and T’nia Moore, 28, and Justyne Falbo, 23, were agreeable.
“He would never come out and say, ‘Is this what you want to do?’ ” Justyne Falbo says of her father.
“Part of him wanted us to pursue our own careers. He always said this place will always be here. Get on your feet, then we’ll talk. I think he’s known (in the last several years) I’ve been pretty serious about taking it over,” Moore says.
By Oct. 1, the women had assumed ownership, completing some renovations and adding items to the menu as they put their own touches on the family business.
T’nia’s husband, B.J. Moore, 30, and Falbo’s fiancee, Nick Vukovich, 24, assist with running the restaurant.
The sisters grew up working in the business their paternal grandparents established in 1976.
Tony Falbo took over for his parents, Raymond and Patricia Falbo and later Raymond and Amy Falbo, in 2000.
The women recall working as dishwashers at age 12, and waitressing at 16. Their younger sibling, Taylor Falbo, 19, a student at Slippery Rock University, helps out in the restaurant during school breaks.
Ensuring their futures
While their father always hoped his children would one day take over ownership of the restaurant, he urged each to first get a college education.
Moore holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and has earned her MBA. “I have the path for this (business management). ... I wanted to take this over (the restaurant). Justyne decided she did, too,” she says. Falbo has a degree in nursing.
“When I would come home from school (and work at the restaurant), that’s when I could see me doing this more. I have been in charge of the dining room for about a year. This was second nature,” she says.
“I’ve been there since I was 12 years old, 43 years total. ... They (his daughters) got their educations for something to fall back on. They saw us (him and his former wife, Jen Falbo) working in the business all our lives. I wanted them to get an education before working in the restaurant. They will do fine. They are all hard workers,” Tony Falbo says.
In anticipation of her father’s retirement, Moore learned the kitchen side of the business from her mother, Jen Falbo, who operates Falbo’s Pizzeria and Convenience Store in South Greensburg.
“I had never worked in the kitchen. I learned how to make dough, sauce, Italian dressing,” she says.
Making it their own
The sisters already have updated the dining room and one restroom, with more minor changes to come.
“We bought all new dishware,” Justyne Falbo says. And they are adding to an already popular menu of largely Italian dishes.
“We make homemade meatballs now,” Moore says. “The stuffed chicken breast was from our catering menu. It’s very popular,” her sister adds.
Their mother taught Moore how to make her stuffed peppers. “They were a (menu) hit right away,” Moore says.
Also satisfying diners’ taste buds is the new peppered steak, a colorful dish full of chopped vegetables and served over white rice. The sisters plan to offer monthly specials, and rotate back on to the menu items that customers request.
Falbo’s pizza -- thin crust and thick -- and orders of chicken wings are favorites with patrons, along with the Italian sampler of pasta dishes and hand-breaded chicken Parmesan, they add.
Another new item, lobster pot, also is going over well, Moore says.
Fourth generation on the way?
Moore, who has a young child and is expecting a second by year’s end, is already giving some thought to the restaurant’s future.
“Of course, we would like it to stay in the family,” she says.
The women’s father, who is recuperating from a recent motorcycle accident, is confident the third generation will run the business well. “It’s time for me to say sayonara. It couldn’t be in better hands. They’ve got their young ideas and the social media (skills) to promote the place. I’m so proud of all of them. ... Hopefully, the town will come out and support them with their new specials and their ideas. I think they will do good,” Tony Falbo says.