democrat & chronicle 3/9/2007

Tahou's Next Generation Gives Eatery Its Own Flavor
Deborah Alexander Staff writer
March 09, 2007

At the former Nick Tahou's Hots II, change was on the menu this week as customers were served up a new name for the popular restaurant and its landmark dish.

Steve Tahou and Joanne Tahou-Demkou are now the owners of the eatery at 2260 Lyell Ave. in Gates, renamed Steve T. Hots & Potatoes. Tahou, 51, and Tahou-Demkou, 47, are the nephew and niece of Nick Tahou, founder of Nick Tahou Hots at 320 W. Main St. in Rochester, where the Garbage Plate originated. Their father, Ike Tahou, started the Gates location with their uncle in 1979.

When Nick and Ike died, the brothers left the business to their wives, Pat and Anastasia, respectively. Tahou-Demkou and Tahou have managed the Lyell Avenue spot for 28 years. The siblings recently purchased their Aunt Pat's share of the business.

"It was time for everyone to go on their own," Tahou-Demkou said. Tahou-Demkou said she and her brother are on very good terms with their aunt and other family, including their cousin, Alex, who operates Nick Tahou's Hots on West Main Street.

"We wish everyone well," she said. "There is room in this business for everyone. We're ready to work hard and give our customers what they want." Tahou said one thing customers have wanted is the return of the Zweigle's hot dogs and Italian sausages. He said Rochester-based Zweigle's was originally used in the Garbage Plate. The Main Street location uses Nick Tahou Hot Dog brand.

Steve T. Hots & Potatoes will continue to serve its version of the plate, now called Hots and Potatoes, the original name of the dish. The siblings are unable to use the Nick Tahou business name or the Garbage Plate name because their uncle took out a trademark on both in the early 1990s.

Their grandfather, Alexander Tahou, started the business in 1918 on West Main Street next door to its current location. Their grandfather always had the plates and sold mostly hot dogs and potatoes.

Over the years, copycats have created variations on the name for the dish, including "Trash Plate," "Sloppy Plate" and "Messy Plate." At Steve T. Hots & Potatoes, the food service will remain the same, with the exception of the use of Zweigle's hot dogs and Italian sausage, Tahou said. Topping off the plates will be Tahou's own hot sauce - the Steve T. Hot Sauce recipe.

"It's our own hot sauce. We feel it's delicious. The customers love it," he said. The siblings said that besides the change in name and ownership, they plan to remodel the 2,500-square-foot eatery this spring or summer. The proposed project would involve replacing the booths, floor and walls.

Don Carusone stopped in Thursday for breakfast. Carusone, 58, who is retired from Eastman Kodak Co., drives a school bus for the Gates Chili district.

Carusone remembers trips with his father to the Nick Tahou location on Main Street when he was 7 years old. After eating at the counter, Carusone would watch the kitchen staff place hot dogs on the grill in the front window.

Twenty-two years later, Carusone was the first customer of the Lyell location when it opened on Jan. 15, 1979. It was 6 a.m. and Carusone, who was on his way to work, stopped to get coffee. He remembers Tahou-Demkou and her father were there to welcome him.

Carusone said Ike Tahou greeted him with "What you want? Hots and Potats with everything on it?" "That morning, I got eggs over easy, toast with coffee," he recalled. "I would not get a Garbage Plate in the morning. I had to go to work."

Over the years, Carusone got to know the Tahou family and would sometimes order the Garbage Plate. Like his father, he has taken his three children, now 31, 28 and 27, there to eat.

Carusone likes the changes so far and wishes the family the best of luck. He said he keeps coming back to the eatery after 28 years because he likes the Tahou family, the service and "you're always greeted with a smile."