BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Tony Ray grew up in the restaurant business. The 53-year-old former Miami-Dade County police detective spent much of his childhood at Lido Lanes in the Old South End, where his mother Mary worked as a manager. Before that, at the age of 6, Tony recalls pulling up a milk crate so he could stand on it to help the chef at the little restaurant his parents owned and operated in Tampa, Fla. “I’ve always been around it, I’ve always liked it,” he said. “I’d help the cook do stuff until my mom would yell at me to get out of the kitchen.” After retiring from his job with the Miami-Dade department, Tony returned to Northwest Ohio to be near his family. He also ventured into a second career by opening Blue Collar Pub on Illinois Avenue in Maumee. “I wanted to come back here and do what I have always wanted to do – open my own restaurant,” he said. Blue Collar Pub features a large open space with plenty of comfortable seating, a full-service bar, high-top tables and two pool tables as well as an outdoor patio. Prepared from scratch, menu items include sandwiches, burgers and appetizers. Maumee Chamber of Commerce executive director Laurie Tomkinson recently enjoyed the pub’s signature sandwich, grilled meatloaf on rye with spicy ketchup. “I wasn’t expecting homemade food in a pub and I love it,” Laurie said. “It’s unique and my sandwich tasted phenomenal. Even their ketchup is homemade.” Blue Collar Pub serves food daily beginning with the lunch crowd at 11:00 a.m. Late-night eaters can enjoy food up to 1:00 a.m. In addition, live music takes place on Wednesdays and weekends. The pub also features a selection of craft beers brewed locally at Ernest Brewery in South Toledo. Tony originally considered buying a bar closer to his South Toledo stomping grounds until a friend talked to him about the Maumee site. The building, which once housed The Break Room and U and I Lounge, had been vacant for three years before he opened it. “This is a great location. It had the liquor license and kitchen equipment, so I decided to try it here,” he said. Tony bought the pub in June and after replacing the floor and adding his own touch to the décor, which includes specially made tables and bright blue walls, he was ready to go. “I wanted to open a place where people can come and relax and have a beer and a burger and just have a good time in a good atmosphere. I don’t want them to worry about all the other stuff that comes with it – like a bad element,” Tony said. “One of the reasons that I chose Maumee is because it is a very nice area. The people are very nice – everybody here has been so welcoming, it’s amazing.” Blue Collar Pub is located at 720 Illinois Ave. in Maumee. The bar is open every day from 11:00 to 2:00 a.m.