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Not much has changed through the years at Anton's, and owner Anton Tasich says customers appreciate that.
Not much has changed through the years at Anton's, and owner Anton Tasich says customers appreciate that.

5 Dives: Anton's

Posted online
When we walked in, we remembered why it had been years since we’d visited. In the old days, in spite of its reputation for good food, Anton’s small quarters made it impossible for the nonsmokers to be separated from the smokers. That’s changed, though, since owner Anton Tasich beat to the punch the city of Springfield’s no-smoking ordinance and eliminated cigarettes from his establishment.

Sure, you still have to suspend any fear of grease, antiquity, yellowed tape and linoleum. But Anton’s is another place where the waitresses call the regulars by name, and where a touch of attitude is part of the charm.

The can’t-miss establishment has been in the Tasich family – Anton and his wife of 37 years, Roberta – since 1974, when the couple purchased McCormick’s Drive In, complete with a sign out front advertising soft-serve ice cream. The sign is still there, thanks to the innovation of Roberta: “We couldn’t afford a new sign, so she suggested we turn the curly-Q into coffee steam,” Anton Tasich recalls. “Now, it’s gotten to be a topic of humor!”

Tasich, at age 76 (“going on 25,” he says), now works only on Wednesdays and, as needed, on Sundays after church. The place is managed by Debbie Willoughby.

Inside the restaurant, omelets rule. The menu announces 32 varieties plus a daily special. The Anton omelet, for example, has ham, bell pepper and black olives topped with salsa.

We tried Anton’s on a Saturday morning and found it consistently busy with only a short line developing by midmorning.

For starters: Try the pecan rolls ($2.19), served warm, soft and with a pat of butter. We then sampled the eggs, bacon, toast, sausage, hash browns, pancakes, and biscuits and gravy. The meats were flavorful and unusually good. Just as we requested, the hash browns were crispy and done all the way through, not flash-fried.

Prices are decent, with an average meal in the $6 to $7 range. You can get breakfast all day. “We started from Day 1 with breakfast anytime and anything on the menu anytime,” says Tasich. “People like the idea that they can get a hamburger for breakfast or oatmeal for dinner.”

Breakfast orders make up more than 80 percent of Anton’s business.

“It’s all scratch cooking,” Tasich says, noting that the staff even grinds the coffee beans fresh. “We do everything from scratch except skin-on fries and curly cues. I’m the only one who makes the chili, and I make a killer potato soup.”

Tasich says that although the menu changes from time to time, the place and its culture remain. “Last summer a fellow came in and wanted to see me,” Tasich says. “He said, ‘My folks brought me in when I was growing up.’ Then he pointed to his child and said, ‘This is third-generation Anton’s.’ I told him, ‘You make me feel old, get out!’

“Seriously, that’s a real joy to me, that people have that feeling,” Tasich adds. “Most everything else is gone. Hamby’s. Johnny Loo’s. They say, ‘I’m glad you are still here and everything’s still the same.’”

Anton’s

Address: 937 S. Glenstone Ave.

Phone: (417) 869-7681

Hours: 6 a.m.–2 p.m. six days a week; 8 a.m.–2 p.m. Sunday; closed Tuesday

Known for: Breakfast served all day since 1974

Seating: Seat yourself; capacity of about 60

Décor: Old menus from restaurants such as the Heer’s Gravel Bar and Colonial Dining Room

Clientele: Mixed; as the server says, “We get business suits and construction workers.”

Dress: Anything goes

Payment: Cash only

Paul K. Logsdon is director of public relations and publications for Evangel University, and Kay Logsdon is director of the Food Channel for Noble. They have written restaurant reviews for 25 years.[[In-content Ad]]

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