December 19th, 2014 by Angela Hetrick
Owner: Tom Fello
Established in Coventry Village: January 1972
# of Staff: 56
Q. Tell us about Tommy’s Restaurant. What do you offer? What makes your location unique?
A. Whether you’re a vegetarian, a meat-eater, vegan, or just plain hungry —Tommy’s will take care of you! We cater to all dietary restrictions and strive to provide all our customers with delicious food and friendly service in a family environment.
Q. What did you do before Tommy’s? Tell us the Tommy’s story.
A. I was a soda jerk! When I was 14, my first job was at the former Ace Drug Store, which would later become Fine Arts Confectionery (located in the space now occupied by The Inn on Coventry.) I was 19 years old when the business went up for sale. I purchased the business on Jan. 14, 1972, which included the former owner’s recipes for falafel, baba ghanoush and hummus. With these recipes and a few from my mother, I expand the restaurant’s menu.
In April 1978, Tommy’s moved to 1820 Coventry Road and expanded to accommodate 77 diners. This remained our home until November 1988 when a fire destroyed half a block of Coventry, including Tommy’s dining room. After the fire, we continued to use the kitchen but moved the dining room to 1824 Coventry Road. The current site of Tommy’s celebrated its grand opening in May of 1993.
Q. Why Coventry Village?
A. I love the people and I love Coventry. I’ve worked on Coventry since I was 14 years old. It was a natural fit. Coventry Village is a special place. Most of the businesses are locally owned and have been in business for many years. The neighborhood has always supported the arts and never settles for the ordinary.
Q. Give us a few suggestions for gifts holiday shoppers can find at Tommy’s.
A. Tommy’s gift cards or t-shirt make a great gift. Now through the end of December, we’re offering students 50% off t-shirts when you show us your student ID card.
Also, if you’d like to treat the family while supporting the arts, make plans to attend our 15th Annual New Year’s Day Pancake Breakfast. All proceeds benefit Heights Arts. In addition to the all-you-can-eat breakfast, you’ll have the opportunity to win a variety of gift certificates from local Heights Arts supporters, purchase a commemorative t-shirt or hand-silkscreened poster by Zygote Press.
While waiting for a table, browse next door at Mac’s Backs. Half of all purchases will also be donated to Heights Arts. Flower Clown will be here to entertain children of all ages with his unique balloon creations. The event is also sponsored by our good friends at Big Fun and Mac’s Backs-Books on Coventry.
Q. Tell us something most people don’t know about Tommy’s.
A. We’ve basically had the same menu since 1972. At the beginning of Tommy’s, we had only 7 seats. It was pretty much a one man show. I took the orders, made the food, washed the dishes and was also the cashier.
When the same people would make up sandwiches and order the same things every time, it was easier to just write their names or initials down. That is how our menu was created. Each item is named after its creator. These lovely people represent the history of Coventry and now make their homes all over the world.
Q. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A. An oceanographer.
Q. What’s your guilty pleasure?
Q. Share with us a Fello family holiday tradition.
A. Every year we buy and plant a live Christmas tree.
Thanks to Tommy for taking the time to chat with us. Treat your loved ones to a meal or one of Tommy’s world famous milkshakes! Mark your calendar for Tommy’s 15th Annual Pancake breakfast to benefit Heights Arts.
Every weekday this holiday season, we’re introducing you to the independent business owners that help make Coventry Village a great place to live, work, shop, dine and play.
Happy Holidays from your friends in Coventry Village.
Photos by Suzuran Photography. Copyright Coventry Village Special Improvement District & Suzuran Photography.