When you think of Toledo restaurateurs, many names come to mind, but a constant among those in the hospitality industry are Bruce and Tracy Saba, now of Saba’s Bistro 1705 and TJ’s Catering. Tracy started in the restaurant business fifty-one years ago at the Park Cafe and moved over to Frank Unkle’s Restaurant when it debuted.
On the other side of town at Centre’s Supermarket, Bruce Saba had a successful career in the grocery business but, tired of counting loaves of bread, was looking for a change… He met Tracy at Frank Unkle’s and they married. Armed with his knowledge of the best cuts of meat and how to choose the best produce, he was offered a position as general manager of the restaurant.
A slice of restaurant history
The pair decided it was time to strike out on their own and they took over operation of the Charcoal House on Talmadge Rd. Clarence Nopper, the landlord, charged a modest $6.00 a square foot for rent when other area businesses were paying 4-5 times as much. They operated the Charcoal House for twenty years until it closed due to Nopper’s death.
They then opened TJ’s Catering and planted roots at the Erie Street Market – the first business to open there and the last to close sixteen years later. Their specialty was sandwiches and TJ’s Taters – killer potato chips that are made with a secret recipe. They regularly sold over 300 lbs. a week.
They operated Kokomo’s and Saba’s Chop house in the space that housed the former Someplace Else in Sylvania, and later was the home of Louie G’s, The Southbriar and now, Tekela’s.
After a brief stint at Chili Jack’s, where their son Bruce II joined the family business, all three landed at Saba’s Bistro 1705 in the Holiday Inn in Maumee in 2008. The owners of the hotel had never operated a full-service bar or restaurant and, clearly perplexed, asked one of their food purveyors for suggestions on hiring a management crew to operate the food facility. The Saba’s were called and, before they even agreed to come on board, the owners announced that they were starting the next day. Now, nine years later the restaurant is flourishing.
A neighborhood feel
Saba’s Bistro 1705, despite being in a hotel, is run like a local business – great food, a cocktail hour from 5-7 Monday through Friday and, most importantly, outstanding service. Bruce stresses that even though he has a great corporate business, he wants travelers to have amenities like draft beer with regional names and first class cuisine. He wants customers from around the country to ask for him by name.
He also wants the local community to feel like this is a neighborhood restaurant. With recent changes to the interior, Saba’s is now becoming the new, trendy place to gather.
The menu is varied with choice or higher-quality prime New York Strip/Porterhouse/Filet Mignon steaks, prime burgers and specials every week that include appetizers and 2-3 entrees. The burger is amazing and, of course, TJ’s Taters are on the menu. Desserts like bread pudding, carrot cake and brownie sundaes are all homemade and not to miss.
The restaurant is open seven days for breakfast and dinner – no lunch. It is available for birthday parties, bridal showers, wakes and meetings.
Bag of Fresh Spinach
4 oz. granulated garlic
1 lemon zested
1 can of Artichokes
5 cups Parmesan cheese
3 cups sour cream
3 cups mayonnaise
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1705 Toll Gate Dr | Maumee, OH 43537