CUYAHOGA FALLS -- People have been meeting and eating at Village Gardens Restaurant and Pub for 30 years and the owner wants to say, "Thank you."
Owner Tom Metlovski is inviting the public to stop in on March 30 and have a piece of birthday cake. And then on March 31 everyone is asked to come back for a larger celebration beginning at 7 p.m. when free appetizers will be available and, at 8 p.m., a live band will perform.
Tom Metlovski and his wife, Vicky, opened Village Gardens on March 30, 1987. As relative newlyweds, having been married less than two years, Tom and Vicky were also new at owning a restaurant. And Tom was also new at cooking.
"I couldn't boil water," he said during a lull between lunch and dinner inside his eatery at 2437 State Road. "I didn't know to season the pans. The eggs were coming out hard and I didn't know why." Metlovski said he soon learned his way around the kitchen. While Tom was the cook, Vicky did all the baking.
Tom and Vicky built up a loyal following through hard work and homemade dishes derived from Mediterranean and American recipes. After 27 years of marriage, Vicky died of cancer on March 21, 2013, at the age of 51. Since then, Tom has carried on performing daily duties at the restaurant, often tying on an apron and working in the kitchen. And he continues to host a free community dinner every Thanksgiving.
Among Village Gardens' 15 employees are Tom's twin daughters, Lauren and Stephanie. Both 2007 graduates of Woodridge High School, Lauren is a hostess and waitress and Stephanie is a cook. The Village employees number around 15 people, their dad said.
In addition, "The Grandmas," Vera Metlovski and Nada Spiroff, have been instrumental in the restaurant's success. The "Grandmas" continue to make the baklava which can be paired with a cup of Turkish coffee. Other sweet treats are created by local baker Nancy Remik.
The menu at Village Gardens -- also known as "Tom's" and "The Garden" -- offers a variety for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The house specialty is the Macedonian bean soup. Samples are available to those who've never tried it.
Tom said he continues to update and improve the menu, always including several heart-healthy "Doctor's Order" selections which are hand-selected for Village Gardens by the staff at Western Reserve Hospital.
Village Gardens' regular business hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. The phone number is 330-928-5751.