Gonzales Main Street is pleased to announce Toni’s Food Store as the Main Street Business of the Month for September. Located at 209 Saint Lawrence Street, Antonio “Toni” Espinoza opened Toni’s Food Store on Sept. 10, 1959 — 64 years ago this month.
Built from the ground up, the grand opening celebration was the biggest party around. There were pony rides and characters in bunny costumes as it was the newest of Gonzales’ grocery stores at that time. Patrons remember Coke bottle recycling and a fresh-cut meat counter. They even had two tables to enjoy your barbecue at the grocery store.
Unfortunately, patriarch “Toni” passed away just three years later in 1961. At the age of 22, Toni’s son David took over the family business. In addition to Toni’s Food Store, the Espinoza family managed 20-plus rent houses, ranches, and cattle.
When HEB moved to Gonzales, Toni’s could not compete as a grocery. David Espinoza took this as an opportunity to rebrand Toni’s Food Store into a restaurant and catering company. David worked his businesses from sunup to sundown. It became a great success. Toni’s became known far and wide for its delicious hometown food and catering business.
It was not uncommon for Toni’s to cater high-end Christmas parties, cattle rides, Dallas Cowboys, and Beefmaster events. In 1997 they were even asked to cater Nolan Ryan’s 50th birthday party at Gruene Hall in New Braunfels. It wasn’t uncommon to have cattle guys doing business in San Antonio hop on their helicopter and fly to Gonzales to eat at Toni’s.
In 2005, after the passing of her beloved husband David, Ms. Minnie took over the family business. Her love for the people of this community was ever-present. She knew everyone’s name, asked about their family, and had a hug and kiss for each wonderful customer. Often times the line at Toni’s would be out the door as Ms. Minnie took the time to greet and talk to each person.
“She made you feel like home when you came in,” local patrons said. Her smile was warm and her care genuine. Her youngest son was a costume designer in Los Angelesand would have the famous people he worked with autograph pictures for his mom and she proudly displayed them around Toni’s Food Store.
Gonzales Main Street board members can remember heading to Toni’s every Friday after pep rally. The place was always packed, the food always delicious, and the community spirit always strong. Ms. Minnie ran the business until her oldest son Michael took over in 2015. “I can’t imagine Gonzales without Toni’s,” said Michael. “It wouldn’t be the same if all you have is the memories.”
We are thrilled to celebrate 64 years of Toni’s Food Store.