Leona’s continues Steve and Jill’s tradition
By Nick Longworth
Leona is looking to further build upon the legacy that Steve and Jill created.
Under new ownership, owned now by Nevis residents Tom and Laura Becker, “Leona’s” (affectionately named after Laura’s deceased mother) looks to continue on the success that the former “Steve and Jill’s” built through years of operation in the community of Nevis.
Born and raised in Park Rapids, the Beckers know the area well. They’ve lived in it their entire lives.
They officially became owners of Leona’s on Jan. 17, opening their doors again to customers ten days later on the 27th.The couple moved to Nevis from Park Rapids two and a half years ago. Liking the area, they found a house they liked and began harboring ideas of owning their own business.“Once we moved to Nevis we told ourselves that if Steve and Jill’s ever became for sale, we would be interested. We still had a house in Park Rapids that we needed to sell and we couldn’t buy anything until it was sold. But within two weeks of us saying that, it sold. We certainly didn’t expect that, so it was just another sign to us. It felt like the right move,” said Tom Becker.“It was originally just a thought we had, but eventually it became a reality. A lot of things just fell into place for this to become a reality; financially everything kind of fell into place. We originally thought it would be fun to own a pizza place and I had said to Tom that it would be ideal if Steve and Jill’s came up for sale. It wasn’t long after that that it did. We didn’t even look at any other places because this was the perfect fit. We wouldn’t be here without a little bit of luck. We truly feel we were meant to be here,” said Laura Becker.Customers shouldn’t expect drastic changes. The restaurant they loved before remains intact, albeit with some new minor twists.Outside of some new décor within the restaurant, the couple assures longtime customers of Steve and Jill’s that the menu won’t be undergoing any drastic changes.“The menu will be very much like what Steve and Jill had. We have the same recipe; we are not changing that. We are still doing the chicken, burgers and other things they had on the menu and the specials will be relatively the same,” Laura said.“We have added a dessert pizza, and there are a couple things we are thinking that we might be adding to the menu, but we’re not sure at this point. I hate to give away any secrets yet, but it will be along the Italian food line,” Laura said.“We found out that they had a huge following for their pizza and chicken. People were very concerned about anyone changing their recipe. We’ve assured people that that’s not going to happen,” Tom said.They both agree that décor will be the only notable change to customers.“The wood and the tables are the same. They did most of the wood before they left, so we left that alone,” Tom said.“We put new pictures on the wall and changed nearly everything around. We brought in an airbrush artist to help. The old brick grill that was no longer up to health code standards or able to use we turned into a brick table-top,” Laura said.Tom and Laura will look to keep Leona’s restaurant a family-oriented business, with their three children T.J., Lyndsay and Michael all playing active roles in its day-to-day operation.“Our kids will be very involved. They want to be here and want to help. I do all the prep work during the day and both Tom and I will do all the cooking. We will primarily be overseeing the kitchen,” Laura said.Delivery will be available on Friday and Saturday nights at a charged rate of $1 per mile - up to $4 - with a five-mile delivery range.“Currently we’re offering delivery on Fridays and Saturdays. We hope to expand that service, especially during the summer months, Memorial Day to Labor Day. We will also be expanding our hours then too to 11-10 from the 3-8 it will be now until then,” Laura said.A grand-opening celebration is tentatively planned for late April or early May.“In a couple of months we are looking to have a grand opening. We might possibly add a couple of specialty menu items at that time, but I don’t want to elaborate too much about them because they are still in development. We will be offering miscellaneous door prizes and also give away one grand prize,” Laura said.“We want to make it a great place for customers to look forward to coming to. We want to have it be a great place for our employees. We want to create a fun family atmosphere, an enjoyable place to be,” Laura said.“Everyone loves pizza. Why not continue the great tradition that Steve and Jill’s started?” Tom said.For more information, visit www.leonas-restaurant.com or call 652-4021.