Ask anybody in the mid cities of Illinois,
“What’s the best Italian dressing?,”
and there will be no hesitation,
“Why Mona’s Italian Dressing of course!”
What came first, the salad or the tortellini? Nildo Bernardi - otherwise known as Mona - was born in Italy in 1901. His family immigrated to Central Illinois in 1907 along with other Italians who came to work the old coal mines in Toluca, Illinois. Mona Bernardi's father opened a grocery store, and in 1933, Nildo opened a small Italian restaurant in downtown Toluca. He named it "Mona's" after Mona's Harmony Kings, the local orchestra in which he played. People across Toluca quickly discovered the irresistible tortellini Nildo's wife, Mae handcrafted in the restaurant's basement. The word was out. Mona's had arrived. Over the years the restaurant expanded their menu, including their very own Italian salad dressing. As the children of Mona and Mae took on their respective roles in the business, their first daughter Joyce took over the salad dressing. Joyce had been making the dressing since 1979. In 1989 she formed J.R. Food Sales. Joyce developed a loyal following from patrons throughout Illinois, all the while raising 7 children. Joyce passed the business on to her oldest daughter, Jeanne in 2007. Jeanne took the business over, and in 6 years doubled the annual sales. Jeanne developed key partnerships to help with distribution and sales that continue to allow Mona’s Salad Dressing to grow. As of May 2013 Jeanne decided to take a lesser role and join with her sister Ellen and her oldest daughter Kristin to expand and run the salad dressing operation. Kristin and her husband will be handling the Illinois operations along with Jeanne. Ellen and her husband are heading up the operations in Texas.