|The Tuscarora Mill building was constructed in 1899 as a grain mill. Tuxkies opened as a restaurant under the stewardship of owner Kevin Mallone in 1985. Times-Mirror staff photo/Beverly Denny|
Known by locals as "Tuskies," Tuscarora Mill will celebrate 28 years this December as one of Loudoun's best restaurants and one of the first proponents in Loudoun of buying local. Located in the heart of historic Leesburg at Market Station, Tuskies is the oldest of owner Kevin Malone's five food establishments. His success has been built on a people-driven philosophy of encouraging his staff to do whatever it costs to make people happy.
"We're not in the food business serving people, we're in the people business serving food," Malone says.
Malone has been there since day one, back when the menu was on one page and written in calligraphy. The 10,000 square foot historic restaurant is a landmark in Loudoun County. Before the restaurant opened in 1985, it had served as a grain mill and later a general store-selling seed and farm machinery to the community.
Built in 1899 the building was originally located 300 feet to the south alongside W&O Railroad line. It was relocated to build the Market Station complex in 1985, and restored to retain the character of the old mill. Market Station's other historic buildings include a freight depot, the station master's house, an eighteenth-century mill from Pennsylvania, and a West Virginia log cabin dating back to 1840. The restaurant's historic significance also creates a charm and rustic ambience inside, with exposed beams and wood floors throughout.
Beneath Tuscarora is South Street Under, the restaurant's bakery and daytime cafe. Ten years ago, Malone opened Magnolia's at the Mill in Purcellville. He was offered the old flour mill several years before and Malone recalls telling the owner he would purchase the property once there were "more people than cows" in Purcellville. A few years later came Fireworks Pizza, a bustling wood fired pizza restaurant located next to Tuskies at Market Station. Its success led Malone to open a second Fireworks in Arlington. Malone says he's done opening restaurants now, however, and wants to concentrate on making his locations better.
Mouncey Ferguson, manager of Tuskies Wine Trail and consultant for Tuskies Restaurant Group, says Malone is a lover of great food and drink and "strives each day to ensure his restaurants meet or exceed his (and his customers) expectations." Customer service is Malone's top priority and his talent with people is unusual.
"Many of his employees have had long and successful careers at the restaurants," Ferguson says.
Tuskies Chef Patrick Dinh and award-winning server Wendy Cain have been with the group for over 20 years.
"The restaurant business is the greatest business in the world," Malone says. "You make people happy, you rarely take any problems home with you."
New plans at Tuskies include adding small plates to the menu and updating their conference space to a more contemporary design. Malone encourages his kitchen managers to change things up, as well as buy local "anytime a local farmer comes by with something to sell." Malone says he wants to make sure they're the first people the farmers think of. This is just one part of Malone's goal to constantly reinvent the wheel.
"My biggest fear is becoming obsolete, I tell my managers I'm the oldest one in the group and I'm the one who wants you to do new stuff all the time," Malone says.
While this has kept them plugged into the community, the new items don't always end up on customers' plates. About 25 years ago, a guy showed up with a snapping turtle and said "I heard you buy local." Malone stuck to his philosophy, bought it, and let it go in a pond near his house.
Rebekah Pizana is a journalist and food tourist. She spends her free time traveling and exploring Loudoun County.
This profile was originally published in the LTM's "Downtown Leesburg" publication in the third quarter, 2013 edition.
|Tuscarora Mill has developed a loyal following since it opened in 1985.|
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