For the past 50 years, or maybe 49, a group of anywhere between two and 12 men get together at J&G’s Pizza Palace for TNC, or Thursday Night Club. They gather at the long table in the back, unless it’s taken by someone else, have an Upside beer or two, and order the “usual.” Their menu items most always include gyros and pizza with pepperoni, onions, ground beef, and peppers, well done with small cuts. “Occasionally, we change it up but not often,” they chuckled.
The actual founding date of TNC is in question, however. “We celebrated TNC’s 10th anniversary at my wedding in 1984,” stated Rich MacMillan. “But there is some dispute about our 1974 beginning,” he laughed.
One of the actual founders, Dave Skinner, recalls a somewhat different timeline. “I went to the University of Toledo and worked at Libbey-Owens-Ford until I was laid off in early 1975. That’s when Dan Falcone and I rekindled Sylvania Office Cleaning, a business we had started when we were students at Sylvania High School. We began going to J&G Pizza Palace for ‘management meetings,’ first on Wednesday nights. But we realized Thursday nights would be better because we didn’t have classes on Friday,” he offered.
Skinner and Falcone had been friends since junior high but cemented their relationship by playing in the Sylvania High School marching band together and then starting their business.
Fellow band member, high school, and UT student Keith Johnson, soon joined Skinner and Falcone and the Thursday Night Club, or as they affectionately say, TNC, was born. “This was shortly after J&G’s first opened,” they admitted. In the early days, the TNC “meetings” began around 10 pm and adjourned at closing. But now, TNC gets underway at 8:30 pm as J&G closings (and bedtimes) come earlier these days.
Even though fellow band member Rich MacMillan was a year behind the three and went off to Purdue University, he could be found at the big table at J&G every Thursday that he was in town. He currently holds the office of Safety Director, one of only two elected TNC offices (and no one is quite sure of the duties of said offices).
Shaun Coughlan is the other officer … sergeant at arm (the other arm was taken away for reasons no one can remember). Coughlan was the first person Skinner met on campus and a friendship was born along with a TNC membership. Coughlan’s girlfriend-turned-wife’s brother, Marty Hohenberg, a Central High School graduate, was invited to the TNC and accepted into membership.
Skinner and Falcone met other TNC members Mark Fraser, Ted Smail, and Roger Pinkleman through their office cleaning business. Tom LaVoy and Pat Stark were friends from hockey. While Stark has been a fairly regular TNC attendee, according to a smiling Falcone, he is still being vetted.
“Others may think they are members, but we call them ‘clingons.’ Some are just wannabes,” Falcone chuckled.
Though several of the TNC members, clingons and wannabes have moved away, they feel free to stop by on any given Thursday night that they are in town.
While J&G is the location, the group ventures to northern Michigan to play a bit of golf and they take excursions to places such as Cedar Point and Nashville. They also hold other golfing events in town, usually on a Thursday before the TNC gets underway. They have produced the little-known TNC Christmas albums, which they send to a select few.
At any TNC member’s family wedding, a TNC group photo is a must. “But we try not to make it about ourselves,” Falcone said, tongue in cheek.
However, the TNC is not all just about the members. An occasional guest has been known to join the group after signing the “guest book,” or the back of a paper placemat. Wives have also been known to put in an occasional appearance on a Thursday night. “Thank heavens all of our wives like each other,” the group agreed. “And we think they are all happy that there is a TNC.”