|Tillie's was opened over 57 years ago on
March 1, 1962. Everyone knew my Mom, whose real name is Matilda, as
"Tillie" from when she and my dad, Guerino, had a small bar and cafe
style restaurant called "Teti's Cafe" at 2217 Walnut Street.
The rear of the building has a concrete block attachment (the kitchen) much of which my dad built with his own hands. The building was vacated in the 90's and was leveled by the city in 2005. I will always have fond memories of my life there from 5 years old until I was drafted into the service at 21.
|"Tillie" would get up 7 AM every morning to prepare for
the frequent lunch crowd from the offices of the Christy Park Works of
US Steel which was across the street from the restaurant. Each
day there was a special luncheon menu all homemade from scratch by
My favorites were Tuesday's Stuffing Topped Pork Chops and Wednesday's Hot Roast Beef with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy. I would walk home from the 11th Ward School for lunch and get so full from the double helpings that I would barely stay awake during the afternoon school sessions!
|Meanwhile, my dad worked as a laborer for the Equitable Gas Company and went off to work at 7 a.m. each morning while Mom ran the Cafe. My sisters, Rose and Joan, would help out when they were not in school, but most days, Mom spent running the place by herself with the exception of a bartender named Francis "Ancy" Ruggier who was like a big brother to me.||
"Bill" Teti, circa 1949
|Angelo (me) at 6 years old in front of Teti Cafe in the Summer of 1948. The Coca Cola sign advertises 5 cent cokes!||Throughout all of this Mom would have dinner prepared for us promptly around 5:30 and we usually ate our meals in the cafe dining room with Mom often getting up during the meal to prepare food for any customers who entered or wanted a take out meal. We ate in the restaurant at a table right outside the kitchen door..and later when the new kitchen was built...we sat around the end of the long kitchen prep table.|
|Again, Mom was up and down getting orders prepared...Dad was running to the bar to serve a patron...so it never was a peaceful family meal, but it was at least something of a family experience.|
|Anna would come in an show Mom how to make the pasta. "Uncle" Nick (who was actually my cousin but called Uncle out of respect for his age) would drive his mom Anna to the restaurant every Saturday to make pasta with Mom. Then Pizza was made one night a week....then it was made two nights a week...they added gnocchi, then raviolis one night etc. Before long it was a nightly dinner menu of our now famous Italian pastas and pizza. People came in for it even though it wasn't formally advertised (just as today)...they knew just by word of mouth. In fact, when people came to dine, we had no menu printed, we would recite what we had and most people already knew what they wanted anyway.|