Tallahassee, Fla. – The restaurant at 228 South Adams Street has been known by many names over the past 40 years, but through all of them Andy Reiss has called it home. Through its various incarnations, “Andrews” has been a mainstay of excellent downtown dining. Now, 40 years later with countless meals served, Reiss is celebrating more than just an anniversary – he celebrates four decades of matchless memories.
A 40th Anniversary gala, in recognition of the important contribution Reiss and his restaurants have made to downtown, includes a joint city-county proclamation declaring “Andrew Reiss Day” in Florida’s capital city.
“For 40 years, Andy’s restaurants have been a landmark in Tallahassee. The downtown area simply would not be the same without Andrew’s,” Leon County Commissioner John Dailey said.
Reiss’ restaurants attract a Who’s Who of Tallahassee’s and Florida’s elite, from Governors and Mayors on down. Power players jockey for his attention, especially when it’s time to give catchy political names to Capital Grill menu items. Yet it all started with humble beginnings.
In 1972, Tallahassee and surrounding Leon County had just over 100,000 residents. Two of those were Florida State University graduates Andy Reiss and his new wife Maxin. At a time that most restaurants were moving away from the Capitol, Reiss seized an opportunity and his legacy began.
Remembering the traditional Jewish food he grew up eating in South Florida, Reiss hoped to create similar memories for Tallahassee residents. Believing the time was right for Tallahassee’s first New York-style delicatessen, he opened The Deli in November 1972. Three years later, he wanted to introduce Tallahassee to continental fine dining and opened the white-tablecloth restaurant, Andrews 2nd Act.
He didn’t stop there, continuing to expand and introduce Tallahassee to new eating and entertainment experiences. Two years after opening Andrew’s 2nd Act, Reiss moved upstairs and launched Tallahassee’s first jazz bar when he opened Maxin’s. For Reiss, the itch to expand still wasn’t satisfied. In 1979, he introduced Tallahassee to Northern Italian cuisine with Tutto Bene. When it seemed that he had done everything he could at the Adams Street location, Reiss began a catering business that for many years included service at the Leon County Civic Center.
In 1986, Maxin’s and Tutto Bene were renovated into a 185-seat restaurant, Andrew’s Upstairs. To accommodate renovations at the Adams Street location in the ‘90s, Reiss briefly left Tallahassee’s downtown and opened Trio and Andrew’s North. Reiss soon returned to downtown in 1998 to open Andrew’s Capital Grill and Andrew’s 228 (named for the street address).
“Andy’s restaurants have been an integral part of downtown Tallahassee, providing a place for neighbors, friends, business people and political figures to come together as a community,” Mayor John Marks said.
During his tenure in Tallahassee, Reiss hasn’t just been a downtown resident; he’s been an active member of the community, including service on the Downtown Improvement Authority since 1978. In 1997, he was a key player in the launch of the Downtown Getdown.
“Even through difficult economic times, Andy has managed to remain a successful businessman and leader in Tallahassee,” said Sue Dick, President of the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce.
“Andy is a business owner, but he is also a citizen of this community who strives to help improve the area for his neighbors,” added Carol Dover, President of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.
To call Andy Reiss anything but a Tallahassee legend would be an understatement. Elected officials, students and Tallahassee residents alike recognize Andy not only as a creator of delicious food, but also as a creator of wonderful memories.
“I have been fortunate enough to do what I love for the past 40 years. I cannot thank the community enough for the support I have received and the memories I have made,” Reiss said.