When one door closes, two more open
By Christian Weaner
Photo Courtesy of Two Tones Café
Tony Fleck, owner and operator of Two Tones Café, has gained ample leadership and culinary skills through 35-plus years of work experience at numerous restaurants and corporations—ranging from Disneyland and Boeing to Outback Steakhouse and The Cheesecake Factory.
But the expertise he is leaning on most heavily right now, as he contemplates the future of Two Tones after closing the restaurant’s Bonners Ferry location at the end of 2023, is how to handle adversity.
“When you are in these chaotic, high-pressure situations over long periods of time, you learn how to remain calm during what others might consider catastrophic moments, like closing a restaurant,” Tony explained.
Tony grew up on Air Force bases across the country but moved to Bonners Ferry, where three generations of his family before him went to school, at the age of 13. After graduating high school, serving three years in the Marine Corps and studying at Washington State University, Tony was recruited to work at Disneyland Resort in Southern California.
Since then, his career in restaurant management and food service has taken him across much of the Western United States, ultimately coming full circle in 2018 when he moved back to his hometown and opened Two Tones shortly thereafter.
Two Tones—a name that pays homage to a promise Tony made more than 20 years ago to his son, Anthony, that the two would one day open a restaurant together—has always been about family for Tony. Nearly all of Tony’s seven children, as well as his wife and granddaughter, have worked at the restaurant at some point since its launch nearly six years ago.
The Bonners Ferry location—fit with an inviting indoor space and a serene outdoor garden area—was perfect in all ways except parking, and that issue was exacerbated by the extended road construction directly in front of the building.
So, in March 2023, Tony opened a second Two Tones on the grounds of The Ranch Club golf course in Priest River, hoping to stem the tide. While the second location has done well for itself, Tony ultimately had to make the heart-breaking decision to close in Bonners Ferry—at least for now.
But Tony is persistent, and he has big plans and ideas for the future. He prides himself on his versatility as a chef, and that wide-ranging diversity of global cuisines has always been a staple of the Two Tones menu.
“I am the Forest Gump of food service,” Tony joked. “I can make chicken and biscuits or a seven-course meal, and I think that’s what gives me an advantage to some people in the business who might just have one unique thing.”
Moving forward, Tony will be focusing on the Priest River location while also launching a new catering venture alongside two business partners from North Spokane. The new catering company, which will specialize in weddings and gatherings, as well as private chef events, is something Tony hopes will generate the financial resources he needs to eventually begin anew in his beloved hometown.
“The success of this catering business is what is going to fuel getting re-opened back in Bonners Ferry,” Tony emphasized.
Ultimately, regardless of what the future holds for Tony and his food service career, Two Tones Café is, and always will be, so much more than just a business to him—it’s a family.
“Opening Two Tones Café was a dream come true,” Tony reflected. “It wasn’t what I expected. The rewards were greater and the challenges bigger than I ever expected.”