Assemblymember Laura Friedman Names Burbank’s Tallyrand Restaurant as 43rd District Small Business of the Year 2021

(Photo by© Ross A Benson)

A celebration took place at Tallyrand Restaurant on Thursday, Aug. 12, as the establishment received the award of California’s 43rd Assembly District Small Business of the Year 2021.

Assemblymember Laura Friedman attended the event and presented the award to Tallyrand co-owners, siblings Karen Ross and Mark Thomas. The ceremony included appearances from numerous local leaders such as Burbank interim Chief of Police Mike Albanese, Burbank Vice Mayor Jess Talamantes, Burbank Chamber of Commerce CEO Jamie Keyser, and Burbank City Council Member Nick Schultz. 

“We feel completely honored,” Ross said of Tallyrand receiving the award from Friedman. “[We’re] so full of gratitude for the City of Burbank and the community of Burbank, [and] for our staff for sticking with us.”

Karen Ross, brother Mark Thomas and Assemblymember Laura Friedman (Photo by© Ross A Benson)

Schultz nominated Tallyrand for the honor after Ross visited a recent Noon Rotary Club of Burbank meeting and detailed the struggles the restaurant has overcome since the onset of COVID-19. This included shifting to a four-hour workday takeout menu plan during the height of the pandemic, consequently being forced to lay off employees, and implementing new features, such as live outdoor music on weekends, in an effort to keep the business alive.

Ross also told an anecdote at the meeting of how Burbank residents lined up outside the restaurant on the morning of Thanksgiving to offer their support for the landmark food spot. The wait to purchase a Tallyrand turkey on this morning was three hours long, as hundreds of residents awaited their holiday meals. Schultz says this account confirmed Tallyrand’s nomination through its representation of the deep affection Burbank locals have for the restaurant, their food offerings, and their staff members.  

“I just absolutely love this place and I love what it means to the community,” Schultz said of Tallyrand. “This isn’t my choice, it’s not even the assemblymember’s choice, it’s so much the community’s choice because they rallied around this place.” 

Assemblymember Friedman gave a speech at the gathering highlighting the significance of Tallyrand’s contributions to the Burbank community. The restaurant has been in business for just over six decades, and Friedman expressed how the positive memories amassed at Tallyrand over the years made it the ideal choice for Small Business of the Year.

“Restaurants have a special place in people’s hearts, and the people of Burbank have known Tallyrand for 60 years,” Friedman said. “For 60 years they’ve been the place people have gone on their first dates, the place when they’re alone they can go and sit at the counter and have a cup of coffee.”

Over the past 18 months, as restaurants were struggling to survive, Ross and Thomas continued to adjust their business model however was necessary to accommodate their customers and employees. The average Tallyrand staff member has been employed by the restaurant for around 28 years, which is a testament to how Ross and Thomas place value on serving not only the needs of their restaurant guests but the hardworking people who make their business operations possible. 

(Photo By: Edward Tovmassian)

“Restaurants were disproportionately impacted [during COVID] because of their business models and having to close their doors,” Friedman said. “People love their restaurants, they have an emotional attachment to them, and we need to show that appreciation and that value by supporting them financially. And I wanted to recognize Tallyrand for really going to exceptional lengths through a difficult time to serve the community [and] to serve their employees as well.” 

Ross and Thomas have carried on the legacy of their parents, Al and Delores Thomas, who started the business in 1959, through their ongoing outstanding service to the Burbank community. Just as they intended, the staff of Tallyrand serves freshly-made American cuisine in a friendly environment and welcomes all customers under the motto of “Family, Friends, Traditions.” 

Next week, Ross and Thomas will further be honored by Friedman and the 43rd District with an award celebration in Sacramento. Ross says that although the daily responsibilities of running the restaurant remain her focus, reflecting on the distinct accomplishments of Tallyrand brings a great sense of pride to its owners and staff members.  

“[During the] day-to-day I don’t think about that….but when I sit back and look back [I think] ‘Wow, it’s a great accomplishment,’ Ross said of Tallyrand’s longevity and impact. “And I think my parents would be so proud.”


    1. I adore Tallyrand. What a great place.

      I am conflicted about the concept of a government making it sound like Tallyrand is the penultimate business of 2021 while so many people struggled to keep their doors open, many went out of business and I don’t know why government agencies of any kind would name a “business of the year” when there are too many factors that go into a successful enterprise. The recognition is great, but “Business of the Year” isn’t so great…sounds wrong to me. Just my thoughts.

      To all the small business owners out there who tried and failed or tried and kept it going, you are all incredible heroes to our community. Each and every small business owner is an anchor here and I appreciate you so much.

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