ANSONIA – Andrew Riffle was mostly elated but sometimes got choked up last Saturday night when he hosted the Whistle Stop’s annual employee Christmas party/Queen of Hearts (QOH) volunteer appreciation event.
One of the highlights of the evening was his recap of the QOH event that put Ansonia on the map.
“So how did this thing start,” he asked the crowd that gathered. “Hard to believe, Kalie (his fiancée) used to sell the QOH, Josh and I sold a few beers outside and Erica sold 50/50 for the first time and we all thought a few dollars was a lot. Let’s recap how high this thing really got.”
He continued, “We added so much staff Jessica had to constantly remind me of what their names actually were and not what I thought they were. We had to add so many outside bartenders that I couldn’t even count them on my fingers and toes. We had to add ticket sellers from open to close and a football team of sellers on Thursdays. At the end, Austin James took cases of tickets out to the American Legion for them to tear, and Kay (Jones) and her entourage tore tickets for hours and hours.”
Riffle said he had to have his cousin, Niki, come to the Whistle and help organize the money.
“Greenville National Bank worked with us and took over counting all the QOH money months ago,” he said. “All the girls and Brian and Kent did many things they didn’t have to do for the good of our community and for one of their customers, the Whistle.”
He said they went from buying tickets on Amazon in packs of four to buying four boxes at a time from the distributor. We went from carrying out beer from the inside cooler to having two beer trailers.
“We went from having just our speakers from the bar to having a deejay team…from cleaning up at the end of the night to having a crew of 15 clean up each event…from ordering 60 cases of products from Sysco to ordering 135…from blocking off a street to filling a whole town.”
He attributed the success of this event to his parents, Daryl and Mary among others.
“You taught me growing up to do things with integrity…to give back,” he said. “I am happy we could do these things together and, boy, were we able to do it in a big way. Thank you for your dedication to this event, Dad. You are a big part of why 25,000 people came to this event but more importantly went home from this event. Logistics. Safety, Organization. You brought the expertise to the plate and are a big reason why it looked like we knew what we were doing.”
Riffle went on to thank many of his employees and friends as well as the deejays, Buckeye Clean, Greenville National, Jonathan Bateman, Darren Young, Adam Riffle, the sheriff’s department, “Porta Pot Guys” and the Early Bird.
“I saved the most important to last,” he went on. “It’s the people who did all the work. The Whistle staff…each and every one of you produced at levels that I guarantee no other restaurant in Darke County or western Ohio produced at. We were packed from morning to close. You guys never stopped moving. Cooking. But mostly importantly representing the Whistle and the highest level. I heard that comment after comment of how good the wait staff was. How good the food was. People aren’t going to come back to the Whistle because of the QOH. They are going to come back because of you guys. Thank you for working so many hours and so hard.”
He then apologized if he missed any group.
“We will continue to do things the way we know they need to be done. Excellent Service. Excellent products,” he said. “Jessica, Dad and I will get back to working on our projects to make this place a better to work and visit. We will work together and get this place cleaned up the way it used to be. We won’t back down. We will continue to be the best mom-and-pop restaurant in Darke County. But for tonight, we will celebrate as a team for all we have accomplished.”
During the celebration, the crowd had the opportunity to view the slide show friend Chris Printz created for the QOH. At the end, Riffle dedicated it to his fiancée, Kalie Sanders, and their son, Lincoln.
PHOTO CAPTION: Andrew Riffle mentioned often his fiancée Kalie Sanders and their son, Lincoln, during his recap of the Queen of Hearts event that mesmerized the village of Ansonia in the past several months. (Linda Moody photo)