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The Toledo dining institution and destination Tony Packo’s has an 85-year history of serving its famous Hungarian hot dogs and original recipe comfort food at its three current locations. Tony Packo’s Toledo, LLC opened its next generation restaurant, Packo’s Eastern European Kitchen, at 3348 Secor Road, located near The University of Toledo. This location includes a drive-thru, a first for the Packo's restaurant group.
Also featured is a fresh combination of old and new décor which highlights the rich history of the Tony Packo's brand along with a new, updated Packo's logo. Emily Bennett, President of Tony Packo’s Toledo, LLC, says she was excited to add the new restaurant to the brand portfolio. “With this new location we are able to bring the time-honored Tony Packo's tradition to the next level. Our guests will enjoy their favorite meal in a new and exciting space with comfort and convenience a high priority.”
Tony Packo’s partnered with Cleveland-based interior design and branding firm, Richardson Design, to reinvigorate the unique Tony Packo’s concept and move it forward so the tradition will last another generation. The new Packo’s includes many of the authentic, familiar features of the original downtown Toledo location—the Tiffany lamps, counter service, the famous signed buns and, of course, the menu—while updating the concept’s interior design. “The thread that ties together Tony Packo’s past and its refreshed brand is its quirky authenticity,” says Kristie Oldham, NCIDQ, IIDA, Partner and Design and Trend Director at Richardson Design. “We were called to refresh the brand by taking cues from Tony Packo’s history and redefining those to create a relevant yet original experience.”
The fast-casual restaurant features all of the Tony Packo's favorites people crave, including the famous Tony Packo's hot dog. “We want to hold on to the spirit of what makes Tony Packo’s great but also innovate and update the brand to a fresh modern concept that reflects not only what our customers are asking for, but also includes current trends in the restaurant industry,” says Jimmy Harmon, CEO of Tony Packo’s Toledo, LLC.
For Richardson Design, that meant refreshing the authentic familiar environment of Tony Packo’s, while maintaining its flavor, and creating an experience that would appeal to customers of all ages. It’s the Tony Packo’s everyone knows and loves that now has new energy. The studio focused on key historical features that define the Tony Packo’s experience while considering what modern diners demand. For example, the restaurant will offer fast-casual dining day and night with a drive-thru component, which is new for Packo’s. “Tony Packo’s was fast-casual before fast-casual even existed,” Harmon points out.
Rather than Tony Packo’s, this new establishment is called Packo’s Eastern European Kitchen, though the menu and food are the same. The Richardson Design team borrowed typography and graphic cues from Tony Packo’s past to create hand-painted signage. “A timeless logo was designed to wrap up the fun and variety of the Tony Packo’s brand,” says Alex Hickey, Senior Graphic Designer at Richardson Design. “The logo needed to be highly legible and have a feeling of permanence, reflecting Packo’s as an establishment and destination in Toledo. The clean, bold logo was inspired by hand-painted signage and typography found throughout the city.”
In creating the new Packo’s design, the Richardson team reviewed artifacts from Tony Packo’s history, digging through an attic of the restaurant’s keepsakes. “It was important that the new concept feel every bit as authentic and traditional as the original Tony Packo’s, yet be refreshed so the experience is relevant and exciting for guests of all ages,” Oldham says.
Overall, the interior has the feel of a modernized union hall, with subway tiled walls and a houndstooth flooring pattern. Oldham says, “By using updated materials and modernized take-offs of authentic patterns in the interior, exterior and graphic design, we created a relevant yet time-honored experience.” A service counter of white quartz includes Hungarian-inspired pattern detailing, and “comfort features” you’d find at grandma’s house were introduced in a modern fashion.
Packo’s Eastern European Kitchen also includes a retail component, where clothing, grocery and other brand items are displayed in customized armoires and hutches. And, while the menu is the same, a modern take-off is a new Pickle and Paprika Bar that allows guests to garnish their meals with Tony Packo’s world-famous array of pickles and peppers and an assortment of flavored Paprikas. Digital menu boards allow the restaurant to feature new items along with the existing menu and to feature video which highlights the Packo's brand, its history and loyal followers.
The building exterior includes traditional Hungarian pattern in the brick design. “The feel of quality and craftsmanship differentiates the façade from others in the area,” Oldham says.
“The branding, in general, is just remarkable,” Harmon says of the overall result. “Our guests are excited about the growth of Tony Packo’s. I’ve never seen a brand with so much passion and following. The Packo's Team is excited about growing the brand so we can serve the community and provide the great Tony Packo’s food experience guests have enjoyed for generations.”
A new generation Packo's location opens in Maumee, Ohio in the near future and will feature the same updated décor, drive-thru service and patio dining.