After more than a dozen years of live music, Booty Shakin’ Saturdays, poker tournaments and heli-ski giveaways, Upstairs at Jonny-G’s Bar, Nightclub & Pizzeria in Frisco hosted its last-ever Ladies Night on Wednesday, April 30.
The bar was packed, and owner Jonny Greco posed for photos between running pizzas and moving kegs — just another night at Jonny-G’s. Greco will open his new restaurant, Greco’s, featuring a casual menu of Italian-inspired pub fare, in mid-June in the former location of Tuscato Ristorante Italiano, across the way on Main Street.
“I feel like I’ve said all these things a hundred times,” Greco said. “One door closes, another opens. We’ll move from an upstairs location down to sidewalk, Main Street level, which will draw in drive-by traffic and walk-in traffic, which was kind of hard to do at Jonny-G’s. It was challenging being on the second floor all these years, but we surely made it work up there.
“Now the whole opportunity is just mind-blowing. I’m so exited to learn and to bring my style of ownership to the town, to create jobs for locals and all those things that come along with being an owner.”
Greco said when he first learned in October that he would be unable to renew his lease to keep Jonny-G’s open, one of the biggest issues he dealt with was the harsh reality that his entire staff would lose their jobs.
“It was not about me, but what about the nine people I employ?” he said. “They are all great and I knew they would have landed on their feet, but it means so much for me to be able to offer them a position in the new restaurant. I take so much pride in providing jobs in our community.”
Greco will be taking his entire staff with him when he opens Greco’s Restaurant & Bar, as well as retaining a few familiar faces from the Tuscato family.
“(I’ll be bringing) front of house, back of house and the delivery guys people have gotten to know around Frisco to the new location, along with Keith staying from the current Tuscato’s staff,” Greco said, referring to longtime Tuscato bartender Keith Hogan. “Keith is a dear friend of mine, and I knew it would be important to the success of the new place that he was a part of it.”
Bob Kato, owner of Tuscato, which also closed its doors for the last time on Wednesday, April 30, said he would miss his customers.
“A lot of them started off as customers and turned into very good friends,” he said. “The day-to-day interaction with people — that’s what I’ll miss, but I won’t miss the hours and actually running restaurants myself and being away from my family.”
Kato will retain ownership of his other two restaurants — Incline Bar & Grill at Copper Mountain and the Island Grill at the Frisco Bay Marina. He said the response has been overwhelming since he announced that Tuscato would be closing.
“I knew we were popular, but never how popular,” he said. “I couldn’t have done it without the support and the comments from my customers, telling other people to come into the restaurant. It’s been pretty overwhelming since I’ve announced selling it. … I want to thank all of them for their support and understanding for my reasons of wanting to sell Tuscato.”
Jonny in the limelight
Kato said he has the utmost faith in Greco taking over his space and incorporating a few of the elements from Tuscato into his new menu. The attention should be on Greco now, supporting his new endeavor, and the former Tuscato owner will just “fade away,” Kato said.
“I’m taking off into the sunset; he’s taking over from here on out, carrying on the torch,” Kato said. “Support Jonny and give him a chance.”
As for Greco, closing Jonny-G’s is bittersweet; he has a dozen years of happy memories there, but he’s thrilled about his coming endeavor.
“We want every guest to come into our new place and have a great experience, so it’s important that we convey if you love Tuscato happy hour, our goal is to only make it better, we don’t want to push any people away with this new concept,” Greco said. “It’s so exciting to bring this new venture to Frisco.
“What Jonny-G’s has meant to me I can’t put into words. As I wrestle with these emotions, all I can say is thank you to everyone who’s walked into the door, liked us, posted on Facebook — any kind of support for the last 12½ years. Check out the new place when it’s open and be part of the new place, too.”