Valon Jusufi earned a degree in health care administration and worked for a company that cared for the mentally ill, but he couldn’t resist getting back into the restaurant business.
The 24-year-old Maryville man owns and manages the new Round Table Cafe in Belleville with his uncle, Tony Asani. They’re helped by Valon’s sisters, Vlora and Valmire, his wife, Merita, and Tony’s son, Ozzy.
“It’s a family business,” Valon said. “Everybody does everything. I might be working in the kitchen in the morning, waiting tables in the afternoon and doing dishes in the evening. It all depends on where you’re needed.”
Valon essentially has been training for the job since childhood. His parents, Kumrye and Frank Jusufi, have owned Spring Garden Family Restaurant in Collinsville for 15 years and Spring Garden in Brighton for eight years.
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Kumrye and Frank are Albanian immigrants. Frank has been in the restaurant business since moving to Chicago in the early ’80s.
“I love restaurants,” his son said. “They’re a lot of fun. You get to meet people, and some of them are characters. You can sit and talk to them. They become like family.”
The Round Table opened Dec. 23 in a West Main Street building that started as a Hardee’s and most recently housed the American Patriot Grill.
Its huge menu includes skillets, omelets, pancakes and other breakfast items that are served all day, as well as appetizers, salads, sandwiches, burgers, pasta, stir-fries, barbecue, steaks, seafood and home-style dinners.
We’ve got good food, good service, a friendly atmosphere and homemade cooking.
Toni Asani on his new restaurant
“We’ve got good food, good service, a friendly atmosphere and homemade cooking,” said Tony, 56, of Belleville.
The restaurant offers three soups each day, ranging from Chicken and Rice to Vegetable Beef to Navy Bean.
Popular sandwiches include the Monte Cristo and New York Reuben. Server Jacob Seaward, 28, of Collinsville, is hooked on the Hamburger Horseshoe ($7.99 with fries).
“It’s two slices of toast, topped with a hamburger patty and our delicious fries and some of the best cheese sauce in town,” he said. “I have it about three times a week.”
One of Valon’s favorite items is the Homestyle Cinnamon French Toast Combo, made from a recipe Tony used at his former restaurant in Taylorville.
“The bread comes from my other uncle’s bakery in Springfield, Mo., and it’s delicious,” Valon said. “I’ve eaten 16 pieces in one setting.”
The Jusufis spent four months remodeling and equipping the building. The Round Table is large, seating about 100 people in a dining room with rust-colored walls, dark laminate floors, pendulum lights and lots of natural light.
On a recent weekday, Rose Jordan, was having lunch with her ex-husband, Doug Jordan. She ordered a senior-size portion of the Catfish Dinner ($6.99 with fried potatoes and salad).
“That’s what I should have gotten,” said Doug, 69, of Millstadt. “I had the Homemade Meatloaf ($8.99 with two sides), and it was excellent. It was just too much.”
At a glance
- What: Round Table Cafe
- Where: 6401 W. Main St. in Belleville
- Hours: 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Sundays
- Seating: About 100
- Handicap-accessible: Yes
- Carryout: Yes
- Information: 618-293-6544
On the menu
- Meat Lover’s Omelet — Three-egg omelet with bacon, ham, sausage and cheese, served with hash browns and choice of toast, pancakes or grilled biscuit, $7.99
- Greek Island Salad — Lettuce topped with gyro meat, feta cheese, cucumber rounds, black olives, onions and pepperoncinis with house dressing, $8.99
- Country Burger — Half-pound ground-beef patty, charbroiled and topped with sauteed mushrooms, onions, green peppers and provolone, $7.99
- Salmon Steak — Salmon brushed with lemon juice and butter and broiled, served with choice of two sides and a roll, $12.99
- Mixed Grill — Sizzling mix of chicken breast and pork with grilled green peppers and onions, served with choice of potato, $10.99