Ten years for Tommy O’s

Owner hopes anniversary will help draw new patrons to Downtown eatery

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter



If you go

What: Free hamburgers and hot dogs will celebrate the 10th anniversary of Tommy O’s Pacific Rim Bistro.

When: 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday.

Where: 801 Washington St., Vancouver.

Who: Restaurant owner Tom Owens.

The owner of Tommy O’s Pacific Rim Bistro will send the aroma of free food wafting through the air in downtown Vancouver on Tuesday in an attempt to revive lunch habits that have shifted with the economy.

Tom Owens said his restaurant business dropped 30 percent at the height of recession, although sales are beginning to make a comeback. Owens hopes to draw some new patrons on Tuesday while celebrating Tommy O’s 10th anniversary downtown at 801 Washington St.

“There’s a rumor I’m closing and it’s not true,” Owens said.

He has eliminated Tommy O’s Monday-through-Friday breakfast service. However, Owens’ venue continues to serve lunch and dinner seven days a week and a weekend brunch.

“There were a couple of scary years for us,” said Owens, who also owns Tommy O’s Pacific Rim Grill on the city’s east side at 4101 S.E. 192nd Ave.

The two restaurants employ about 45 people altogether.

Owens, 61, has operated a downtown restaurant since 1994. That’s the year he opened the Aloha Cafe, a popular Northwest- and Polynesian-style deli. He closed the small restaurant and opened Tommy O’s in 2002.

Owens said he is looking forward to a number of downtown events that might bring in business, including the city’s “Six to Sunset” concerts on Thursday evenings in Esther Short Park.

Owens said he watched the downtown park blossom with popularity and surrounding development over the last decade.

He has seen businesses come and go in the downtown core, “In the past 10 years, we saw the City Cinema come in and the (Seventh Street) bus mall go,” he said. “We saw the Kiggins Theater reborn and the Hilton, that was big.”