FORT WAYNE – It started with a typical teenager wanting a car. The road, after a few twists and turns and even a dead end, led to a downtown Fort Wayne building on the Historic Register and the February 2016 opening of Tolon.
“My first passion was always cars,” says chef/owner Matt Nolot. And he got a series of jobs in restaurants to buy that car. He earned an associate degree in automotive sciences but “never worked a day in it.” He says it showed he could fulfill a commitment, but immediately he returned to food. Prep cook, fry cook, sauté cook, grill cook, …. He went back to college for restaurant and hotel management, “but I couldn’t stand it;” he says. “I hated the psychology, the sociology, the English, the math. That’s not what I wanted to go to school for. I did all that in high school.”
“Luckily I worked for people who took me under their wings and showed me things. This career is very forgiving in higher learning – experience is double or triple what you can get in school.” And, he continues: “I started falling in love with it.” He admits he rose pretty fast – people said he had natural ability. “I didn’t see it myself, but I guess others did.”
Proof included a national pork championship with a Cuban braised pork shank. “And then people started looking up to me, and I didn’t want to let them down,” he continues. Then he and his wife, Nicky, started dreaming about their own restaurant, and mapping out a plan. In February 2016, Tolon (Nolot spelled backwards) opened. It’s been a bit of a surprise to the couple. “Busier than we anticipated,” Nicky says. “We’ve enjoyed an overwhelming acceptance and excitement from the community. We need to expand already.”
The logo is a pig “because Matt’s protein of choice is pork,” but the menu is extensive – and not typical. God’s butter – roasted bone marrow – is extremely popular. So, too, are deviled eggs, pork belly, and fried chicken. The cocktail menu takes patrons on a walk through cocktail history; Tolon utilizes craft spirits made in the Midwest.
“We focus on partnerships and relationships with local farmers, concentrating on sustainability,” Nicky says. “That’s huge for us.”
They’ve visited most of the farms they buy from, trying to give back to the community they live in. “If we support them, they’ll support us,” Nicky says. “We want our patrons to feel they’re a part of our family.”
614 Harrison St. • Fort Wayne
(260) 399-5128 • facebook.com/tolonrestaurant