Nearly a year ago, the lake lost a local staple of comfort food and family dining. Matt Rollheiser and family had maintained the restaurant for years, In Nov. of 2018, they made the difficult decision that it was time to shut the restaurant down.
Nearly a year ago, the lake lost a local staple of comfort food and family dining. Matt Rollheiser and family had maintained the restaurant for years and in Nov. 2018, they made the difficult decision that it was time to shut the restaurant down.
Sitting vacant for months, it wasn’t likely that anyone would step forward to restore the restaurant and bring it back to its roots. However, that is all about to to change. Travis Cash a part-time lake resident is looking to reopen the restaurant and bring back the local gathering spot.
Cash will be signing for the restaurant in mid-September and says that he hopes to have operations back up in November. A part-time resident of Lake Ozark, Cash will be moving back to the lake after spending time in Texas to pursue the restaurant full-time.
As a kid, Cash says he remembers dining at Tonka Hills with his grandparents. His aunt and uncle both operated family style diners in Blue Springs and Independence where he spent time working. Even though it will be his first restaurant venture, with his family's experience, Cash feels confident he can offer a family style dining experience that will appeal to the locals and visitors who were fans of Tonka Hills.
As part of an agreement with Rollheiser, Cash will work to keep many elements of the restaurant as faithful to the original as possible. This includes keeping many of the decorative elements and some of the restaurant's staple offerings, including the famous vegetable soup which Rollheiser will be sharing the recipe for with Cash to preserve the known taste.
Cash says that, in a day and age with technology taking up many hours of our day, he wants to create a space that invites families to sit down and enjoy themselves. Another aspect of this is to keep the prices at the low costs they were at before closing to make the dining experience more affordable for everyone.
At the front of his goals, Cash says that the restaurant will be a place that truly cares about lake locals. He says he wants to keep Tonka Hills involved in the community by hosting fundraisers and more.
“We really want this to be a home away from home,” Cash says.
Some of the renovations Cash hopes to complete soon will include some painting, updating the flooring and installing handicap accessible bathrooms. On top of this, he says that the kitchen will receive a major rehaul as well. At the heart of the restaurant, though, Cash says the menu will be homestyle comfort food that Tonka Hills was well known for style and be inexpensive without sacrificing quality.
Rollheiser confirmed that this was the plan for Tonka Hills and says that he is happy to know the restaurant will be able to live on and continue the tradition of family dining.
He said that the family was getting to the point of considering reopening to themselves and was happy that Cash and his family were able to step in.
“I’m happy to see that there is another family willing to step in and keep a piece of lake history alive,” Rollheiser said.