Exclusive to The Tolucan Times One-On-One with siblings Karen Ross and Mark Thomas of Burbank’s Tallyrand Restaurant

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Keeping it fresh with ‘family, friends and traditions’

Karen Ross of Tallyrand with brother and restaurant partner/head chef Mark Thomas. She says: “…the basic, comfort food choices are always available. It’s what people come back for.”

“When you walk into Tallyrand, you’ll feel like you’re part of our family. It’s hard to find that feeling in today’s restaurant industry, but its core to who we are and the legacy we’ve built since 1959.” – Karen Ross

Karen Ross is co-owner of Burbank’s iconic Tallyrand Restaurant with her brother and head chef, Mark Thomas. Tallyrand’s motto is “Family, Friends, Traditions,” and the siblings live that motto every day.

“We are so proud to have customers who have been coming to Tallyrand for decades. When we see people creating family traditions that involve our restaurant, bringing their sons, daughters, grandchildren, friends, and colleagues to try our food and experience our culture, or proudly bragging that they’ve enjoyed the same double-decker burger for 40 years because it’s their all-time favorite – it’s the most rewarding, incredible feeling,” says Karen.

Mark adds, “Everything is made fresh from scratch. In fact, many of our recipes were passed down from my parents – you can really taste the difference that makes.”

How did you get started?

Karen: Tallyrand is in our DNA. Our parents opened the restaurant in 1959 with just a single counter, a dining room, and a dream.

Mark: I started helping my parents at Tallyrand when I was six. There is no replacement for learning through experience – and I can say I was lucky enough to learn from the best.

Karen: All of our kids have even had their first jobs at Tallyrand. It’s really special to see a third generation carrying on the traditions that our parents started.

Did you always want to run a restaurant?

Karen: My heart has always been with the restaurant, but after college is when I knew with certainty that this is what I wanted to do. I take after my mom – I manage and do the books. While so much has changed and become digitized, I’ve retained a lot of what she did and her best practices. Mark takes after our dad. He’s the chef and all-around handy man that keeps this place running. I swear, he can fix anything!

Mark: I love being hands-on and giving as much as I can everyday – whether that’s in the kitchen, with our employees, or making sure all the toasters are working – I want to make Tallyrand the best it can be.

Is there much staff turnover?

Karen: We have very little turnover. We treat our employees just like we treat our customers – like family. Most of our employees have been with us for over 20 years. We care a lot about our employees and think that shows in the way they treat each other and our customers.

Tell us about your famous turkey dinners?

Mark: They’re made with a lot of love and years of practice. We’ve been making our turkey dinners fresh daily for close to 60 years, so we’ve had a lot of time to perfect all the components, from the moistness of the turkey and the creaminess of the mashed potatoes to the flavorful gravy.

It’s unfortunate to hear from our food suppliers how few restaurants these days are buying their ingredients fresh and preparing them daily.

You really have a passion for cooking.

Mark: Yes, I do! Cooking is special to me because my dad and I spent so many years doing it together. A lot of my favorite memories with my dad happened at Tallyrand. There’s also a feeling of self-expression that comes with it – cooking is one way of showing the people around me that I care. It’s why I make things from scratch, even the hollandaise sauce for our Sunday Eggs Benedict. If you’ve never made a hollandaise sauce, come by and I’ll show you how it’s done. The balancing of all the variables, from the timing and the heat to the consistency as ingredients vary season-to-season with different growing conditions, is really challenging, but the outcome is completely worth it.

I like to think what I’m doing here is an old world craft that is worth protecting. When you do not place care into how things are made, it’s also very hard to maintain consistent quality.

Tallyrand is known for comfort food.

Karen: My parents started Tallyrand with some of their favorite recipes that we would make at home. There’s nothing more comfortable than that taste of something that is homemade from your parent’s kitchen.

While much of our menu has stayed consistent over the years, keeping the classics our customers know and love, we’ve also evolved to ensure there are options for everyone, including healthy choices.

So Tallyrand is more than just a restaurant?

Karen: It’s family. It’s relationships. It having everyone know your name when you walk in the front door. It’s so much more than just a restaurant.

And when we say it’s family – we mean it. Mark met his wife Sue here and I met my husband Brett here.

So, what’s the secret?

Mark: Hard work and a passion for what you do. I love it.

Karen: Running a small business is like a well-orchestrated dance. It takes a lot of dedication, practice, and passion. They say the best things in life often aren’t always easy, but they are the most rewarding. When I look back at the memories I’ve made here since I was a kid, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Tallyrand Restaurant is located at 1700 W Olive Ave. in Burbank. Call (818) 846-9904.

John K. Adams is a writer and owner of Storyography – Video Memoir Services. Adams believes everyone has a story to tell and his personal legacy videos allow clients to share those stories with future generations. Visit LifeStoryography.com to learn more.

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