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Although it was a bright, beautiful, sunny day at Ron’s Original Bar & Grille, Becky, the wife of Ron Inverso, the restaurant’s owner and namesake, was not feeling so bright and shiny. Sulking into the kitchen, she dropped her keys on the counter in frustration and begrudgingly told her husband, “I did it again.” “Again? Are you alright?” was all Ron could muster in-between orders. Over the past few months, fender benders were becoming a little too common for Becky. However, a scratch here, a ding there, a few dents and rising repair bills were not the main focus of concern. Becky had been carting around their three girls and two boys for the past 18 years to baseball, plays, friends and school without an incident. Ron had no reason to believe there was anything wrong.
An eye exam later that month changed everything. The Inverso family went into crisis mode. Becky was rushed to Jefferson Hospital, and after an eight-hour operation; Becky emerged with a new direction in life. After months and months of recuperation luckily Becky only suffered some loss to her peripheral vision. “It was the worst day of my life,” Ron remembers. While he sat in the hospital, waiting for the excruciating eight hours to be over, Ron attempted to distract himself with newspapers and magazines from the end tables of the waiting room. Moving on to the medical journals, Ron scanned a few articles regarding nutrition and a theory emerged, “There just might be something I could do to make sure this doesn’t happen again to Becky or any member of my family and community.” The family discussed their beliefs that “everything happens for a reason” and then Ron made a silent pledge to learn as much as he could about food – from crop to table and everything else in-between. He learned many of the diseases we get are because of poor nutrition and eating the wrong things.
Ron attacked his research like a first year med student. He became voracious for knowledge and devoured study after study on preservatives, sweeteners, pesticides, genetic mutations; the list goes on and on. Ron came to learn that many of these factors lead to a variety of diseases including, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity…that list is even longer. Now armed with this frightful knowledge, Ron could not, in good conscience, continue to serve food containing harmful ingredients to his family or community. The reversal, or “Inverso” in Italian, was in the works for the entire Ron’s Original menu. When planning the menu revamp, Ron refused to pass along the increased cost of buying local, fresh and organic to his customers because, as Ron simply says, “It is the right thing to do.”
These days, you will oftentimes find Ron reading ingredients lists on all products that arrive at the restaurant. Barb, the manager of Ron’s Original describes, “Ron has become militant regarding checking the ingredients for every delivery to ensure what he ordered is what is being delivered.” Now, Ron consistently reviews products and procedures in the kitchen in order to maintain scratch cooking, the hallmark of his mom’s kitchen and now the only way Ron’s runs. The fountain soda has real sugar. Sea salt has replaced table salt. The healthy changes span the entire menu with only one remaining battle, “the cheese whiz battle”. As Ron explains, “It’s tough to run a restaurant located in the suburbs of Philly and not have cheez whiz on the menu, but the main goal is to give the community a multitude of healthy choices and hopefully, the majority of the time, they will make the healthy choice.”
Integrity, or as Ron says, “living life right when no one is looking” is tough to find these days. Ron and Becky Inverso live each day to this standard. You will even find a page dedicated to the discussion of integrity on the Ron’s Original website. So, the next time you visit Ron’s for their incredibly tasty food, beer selection or delightful baked goods, pause, applaud and extend a thank you to two people who are making a difference in our community.
Thank you Ron and Becky!