The 25th wedding anniversary is silver. Add another 25 and the 50th is golden. But what about a 65th anniversary? Do enough couples attain such wedded longevity that there is a recorded traditional symbol?
For Mary Ann Condon and Nick Tokles there was only one way to celebrate the 65th anniversary of their parents, Mary Joyce and Alex Tokles.
It had to be an old country party that would remind invited guests of the family's Greek heritage through music and authentic food that Nick prepares every day. Cooking for another 150 people was no big deal for the man who has five restaurants, is adding a sixth, and makes sure there is a taste of the Tokles family's homeland in each one.
The party was held at the Basin Street Grille, where an outdoor deck was the perfect setting for the Bill Skimos Band from Fort Wayne and the Greek music that drew some men to the floor for the traditional dance. Other Tokles restaurants are two Nick & Jimmy's, the Cocoa House, and the Village Inn in Sylvania. A bar and grill in Metamora that is so new it doesn't have a name will be No. 6.
"I think he's crazy," Alex Tokles said of his son's ambition. Mrs. Tokles was not overly enthusiastic about a party in their honor. "The kids are so busy, and Nick works too hard in the restaurants," she said. "He sometimes does two catering jobs a day. But it is wonderful to see everyone now that we're here."
The Rev. Aristotle Damascus, pastor of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, asked the honored couple the secret of their marital success before he and the Rev. Chris Hadgigeorge, the retired priest, gave a prayer. They agreed that having respect for one another has been a big factor in their long marriage.
"We have always talked things over," Mrs. Tokles said over lunch. She shared her solution on how to solve a disagreement on the rare occasion there is one.
"To cool off, I just go down in the basement and do the ironing," she said. Of Irish-German descent she recalled that she didn't receive a warm welcome in the Greek community when she and Mr. Tokles planned to be married at Rosary Cathedral. Later she joined Holy Trinity.
They met at the Trianon Ballroom in downtown Toledo. The senior Tokleses are often seen at the original Nick & Jimmy's on Monroe Street. "I go there two or three times a week," Mrs. Tokles, who formerly baked the cheesecakes for the restaurants, said. Her macaroni salad recipe is still used. She remembers that it was a favorite of Nick's when he was growing up.
Other than retiring in 1980 from his company, E and T Tokles, Inc., a restaurant equipment firm, you can hardly say Mr. Tokles is retired. He works five days a week doing the inventory at Nick & Jimmy's, the headquarters for the business. His history in the Toledo restaurant industry dates to when he was 8 years old and the stock boy in his father's restaurant supply business. "I worked with the condiments, filling the jars from 50-gallon barrels. It was very unsanitary," he recalled.
There are no surprises when it comes to Greek foods because local chefs, like Nick, stick to the script passed through generations of traditional foods including stuffed grape leaves, a vegetable salad sans lettuce, spinach pie (spanakopita), always green beans, and leg of lamb. Nick added chicken oregano because his mother doesn't care for lamb. Baklava? You bet, along with trays of kourambiethes, the rich cookie dredged in powdered sugar.
The gathering underlined what has been true in Toledo for years: people of Greek descent are well represented in the restaurant industry. It was like old home week for many, including Chris and George Kamilaris of Georgio's; Ted and Joan Arvanitis, of the former Theo's; Andy and Maria Petros, formerly of Petros Market; Stan and Margaret Ostas, formerly of El Matadors; John Mancy, the patriarch of the Mancy quartet of restaurants, and Irene Kaufman, Toledo caterer and co-author of the cookbook Olives, Feta, Phyllo, and More.
The reunion of Toledo restaurateurs included Bruce and Tracey Saba, of the Holiday Inn; Sutas and Nucharee Papatjarasgit, of the Magic Wok chain; and Frank and Sharon Unkle, formerly of Frank Uncle's.
P.S. If this column has whetted your appetite for Greek foods, the Greek American festival on the church grounds at Superior and Walnut Streets is in full swing today from noon to 7 p.m.
Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor.