ANSONIA — The Whistle Stop and Grill in downtown Ansonia celebrated its one-year anniversary under the realm of new owner Andrew Riffle on Tuesday.
“Business is strong,” said Riffle. “The Whistle has been around since the late 1800s, serving up delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner specials and is known for its pizza and subs throughout Darke County and beyond.”
He said he had worked at the restaurant for many years when he had the opportunity to purchase it.
“This place has been a staple of the community for many years,” he said. “I feel more like I am just the manager or bar keeper than I do the owner and I love that. That is why, with every change we make around here, we ask for a lot of feedback from the customers and see what their thoughts are to ensure we are making changes that will make their visit better but not alter the character of the establishment.”
Even though he is the distribution supervisor for Crown Equipment Corp. in New Bremen on a full-time basis, he is there at the Whistle Stop most days, leaving it in good hands with those in his employ.
“Without my supportive girlfriend Kalie Sanders, bar manager [sister-in-law Jessica Riffle], great staff and supportive family, this business would not be what it is today,” he said. “There are a ton of people making this place what it is.”
He said this would not have been possible without the help of his family, which include his parents, Daryl and Mary, and brother, Adam.
Andrew himself has been seen helping out in the kitchen, waiting on tables, bartending and serving food at times throughout the week.
Riffle reported that “a ton of improvements” have been made this year.
“I am very proud of that considering it being our first year,” he said. “Some of the items we have been able to get accomplished is a total makeover of our kitchen as well as new freezers and pizza ovens and deep fryers to help with increased sales. We have also added draft beer and Keno, installed a new surround sound system, developed our website www.whistlebarandgrill.com, implemented a point of sale system, added on a new patio among other new items. We had a very aggressive first year of business.”
He admitted that the growth is good, but indicated there is room for improvement. Does he hope to just settle in during year two?
Riffle replied, “We still have a lot we want to do around here. Recently we went and tested new products such as steaks, pork chops, wraps and new wings. We also want to install our second patio, finalize our online ordering feature, explore a delivery service, complete a few remodeling projects among numerous other ideas. Early next year, we will also be announcing some huge news that will sure make many residents of Darke and surrounding counties very happy and I can’t wait to share that with our loyal customers.”
Riffle said one of the best things the Whistle Stop has been done is give back to this small community.
“We have had benefits, golf outings, bartender nights among many other neat ideas to donate money to worthy causes,” he explained. “I can’t wait to see what the future holds for our small business.”
He said his philosophy is: “If you do the right things, treat people right, put good products in front of them, they’ll keep coming back.”
“I’m pretty proud of it,” he said. “It’s been a lot of work. There have been a lot of sweat but no tears yet. And, it has been frustrating at times, but I have no regrets.”
Did he think he would get this far in one year?
“I didn’t think so,” he said. “I had all of these dreams and hopes and done a lot. It’s been so busy.”
He invites and encourages countians and Darke County visitors to visit the Whistle Stop.
“We’re family-oriented,” he said. “I love seeing the little kids play on our race car machine.”
As noted before in a previous interview, Riffle has strong ties to the Whistle.
“My grandfather, Jim Riffle, had the ice cream and milk route and made deliveries here and some of my mom’s family owned it back in the day,” he said.
He is no stranger to work or entrepreneurship. Ever since graduating from Ansonia High School in 2005, Riffle operates a mowing/landscaping and snow removal business. He also has rentals.
The Whistle Stop is is open 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday-Saturday and 9 a.m.-8 p.m. on Sundays. They offer dine-in and carry-out and can be reached at 937-337-4101.
This writer may be reached at 937-569-4315. Follow her on Facebook and join the conversation and get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.