TOLONO, Ill. (WCIA) — The owners of Monical’s Pizza in Tolono have been serving up slices for almost 30 years, with the restaurant in operation for twice as long. But now, the owners are moving on and the restaurant is changing hands.
The original Monicals, founded by Ralph Monical in 1959, has been family-owned for decades, even as the business expanded into a chain with 60 restaurants across Central Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Wisconsin. Tom Swigart met his wife Beth while working there in high school and 27 years ago, they bought the restaurant. But now, they are giving the deed to the company’s corporate headquarters.
Their ownership of Monical’s original restaurant will end later this month.
“It’ll be different going through the front door and setting down as a customer compared to going to the back door and doing whatever I want,” Beth said.
Monical’s Pizza has been more like a family than a business for the Swigart’s.
“We went in there as kids, didn’t know a lot, made a lot of mistakes,” Tom said. “I’d be the first to admit that, but we learned a ton.”
Some years later, they decided to carry on the reigns and make the Monical’s, which was such a part of the couple’s life, their own. When Tom asked his wife about purchasing the restaurant, it caught her of guard.
“I’m like, ‘Ok, all right,'” she said. “Well, then a year after that, it became a reality and that was 27 years ago.”
After decades of working in the industry, the Swigarts started thinking they may want to put more focus on other parts of their life. Tom has his farming around Villa Grove and Beth runs a hair salon in Champaign.
“We were always able to go to our daughter’s games in advance,” Tom said. “That wasn’t an issue, but I feel like we left out a lot of things that we could have been doing.”
The Swigarts said they want to go to more Cardinals games in St. Louis and maybe take a cruise. They will still be able to get a slice from the pizza shop; it will just be as regular customers.
“When I pull in there on occasion, I’ll get that pizza smell outside, and it’s the same thing that I smelled when I was 10 years old,” Tom said.
“A little bittersweet, a little emotional, probably, but I think we’re ready for the next chapter,” Beth said.