Tony Ridgway's 50 Fabulous Years

Article by Sue G. Collins

Photography by Michelle Tricca & Michael Caronchi

Originally published in Naples City Lifestyle

This month, Tony Ridgway will celebrate 50 years of feeding Naples.

On October 4, 1971, Tony opened his first restaurant on 12th Avenue South serving his signature bratwursts and familiar food that kept his mostly Midwestern clientele clambering for more. Then, Tony sourced his brats from Usinger’s in Wisconsin.  And, while The Wurst Place has long since shuttered, diners (from the Midwest and beyond) still look for the bratwurst sandwich on the lunch menu at Ridgway Bar & Grill. And, Usinger’s is still the sausage of choice.

Tony’s portfolio now includes Ridgway Bar & Grill, Tony's Off Third (bakery, coffee shop, wine boutique), Bayside Seafood Grill & Bar, and Sukie's Wine Shop (small wine boutique and houses private dining Vintner's Room for Bayside. Ridgway and Tony's are co-located off Third Street South in Old Naples. Bayside and Sukie's Wine Shop are co-located in Venetian Village.

You may remember The Chef's Garden and Truffles Cafe, which helped cement Tony’s reputation in Naples. His love of food grew from the ground up. He baked pies with fruit from his family’s Chester County, PA orchard and learned at an early age to appreciate local ingredients. He still loves to bake and his restaurants and bakery prioritize preparing foods from scratch using high-quality ingredients. 

“Tony's focus is on creating dining destinations, as well as the retail stores we have, that are welcoming and comfortable,” says Caroline xx, Tony’s daughter and owner of xxx.  “The cuisine is influenced by classical French techniques but is predominantly American in style.”

Today, Tony’s business partner is Sukie Honeycutt. She is integral to the business. She began working for the restaurants in 1979 and gradually, steadily worked her way up to co-owner. She is also the wine director, and is nationally respected for her wine knowledge.

On October 4, the Ridgway family, Susie and their restaurant family and friends will celebrate the anniversary at Ridgway and Tony's with bratwurst sandwiches and carrot cake cupcakes for one and all.

Sukie and Tony's picks for wines this month:

Top dollar: Shafer - Hillside Select - Cabernet Sauvignon Napa

Red: Domaine Serene - Evenstad Reserve - Pinot Noir Willamette 

White: Chateau Montelena - Chardonnay Napa

Bubbles: Graham Beck  - Rose Sparkling - South African Sparkler

Under $25: Chave - Mon Coeur - Cotes-Du-Rhone

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