ANSONIA — The Whistle Stop in Ansonia, which made local, state and probably national news in 2017 with its Queen of Hearts jackpot-setting event, now has a new look.
Owner Andrew Riffle, who admitted that the news of the arrival of COVID-19 several months ago had him somewhat scared, said they had minor projects scheduled already before people were asked to remain at home and businesses shut down.
“But, once things rolled around, it made too much sense not to do this,” he said. “We shut down when the when restaurants were forced to close down their doors.”
But knowing Riffle, he had some ideas of his own.
“I had it all in my head and so did a few others, and it all came together,” said Riffle, who has owned the establishment since November 2015. “I can’t believe it.”
Even before it was announced that restaurants and bars serving food were to close down, Riffle had already begun his delivery service to help get food out to customers.
“It helped sustain us and let us grow,” he said. “We deliver to a good chunk of Darke County.”
The interior displays more of a railroad theme and appears to be more spacious. The motif includes railroad crossing and other signs, train depot lights on the side, and taps on liquor bottles that resemble railroad ties at the bar inside the Whistle Stop, which had its beginnings, he thinks, in the mid-1880s.
“We almost gutted the place, then replaced it with new floors, drop ceiling, all new lighting and electric, windows, doors, tables and bar,” he said. “There was nothing we didn’t touch.”
“Our floor needed to be done a long time ago,” he added.
The tables got new tops and the stools at the bar are the same ones but painted black.
“I wanted it to have a nice clean look,” said Riffle, who also works at Crown. “Our project list was so long and we got a lot done. I want to thank all of the contractors.”
The remodel was phase one of the project, he said, with the next phase being a menu revamp.
“We want to offer nice dinner entrees,” he said. “Understand we’re not perfect, but we worked day in and day out and now we’re working on a reservation module.”
He said another change was that the business went to direct deposit for the employees.
“Sales are stronger,” he said. “We now have extra wait staff Monday through Wednesday to make sure we take care of our customers and have it continue to be a safe environment for all family members.”
He’s still not completely done with the makeover. He is wanting to install a dishwasher and other machinery to improve the quality of the business and make the job safer for the personnel there.
“We follow all the health departments guidelines, like social distancing and wearing masks,” he said.
While he is out working on the other things, his managers at the Whistle Stop are his father, Daryl Riffle, and sister-in-law Jessica Riffle.
Because he also now owns the former Bistro in Greenville, Riffle has moved the Sure Shot Tap House there instead of on the property he purchased at the end of South Broadway across from the Annie Oakley statue.
“There will be a late summer, early fall opening for the Sure Shot Tap House,” he said.