Saturday, April 4, 2020
April 4, 2020

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Tommy O’s, iconic downtown Vancouver restaurant, will close Sunday

By , Columbian business reporter
Published:
5 Photos
Tommy O's owner Tom Owens poses for a portrait in the dining room of his downtown restaurant in 2012. (The Columbian files)
Tommy O's owner Tom Owens poses for a portrait in the dining room of his downtown restaurant in 2012. (The Columbian files) Photo Gallery

Longtime downtown Vancouver restaurant Tommy O’s Pacific Rim Bistro will close permanently this weekend, though the owner is working to keep the Camas location open.

Owner Tom Owens announced the closure on Facebook on Friday morning and attributed the closure in part to the opening of The Waterfront Vancouver. He wrote that the new development decreased customer support and increased the cost of doing business, making the restaurant’s closure inevitable.

“As the saying goes, ‘All good things must end.’ I have come to the end of mine,” Owens wrote. “With sadness in my heart after 25 years of service to the Vancouver downtown area and beyond.”

The downtown Tommy O’s, 801 Washington St., opened in 2002 as a successor to the Aloha Cafe, a deli operated by Owens from 1994 to 2002. It has long been considered a Vancouver staple, and the news of the closure on Facebook was met with a rapid outpouring of replies from customers thanking Owens and expressing sadness to see the restaurant close.

“You have contributed so much to Vancouver and it’s Renaissance,” wrote Joanna Fitzwilson on the Facebook post. “Tommy O’s is a modern landmark. Your sign needs to remain downtown like Portland’s White Stag sign. We will miss you.”

Owens opened a Tommy O’s location in April inside the historic Camas Hotel, 401 N.E. Fourth Ave., Camas. The future of that location appears to be up in the air. Owens wrote that he “will be working at the Camas restaurant trying to keep that one open.”

The downtown restaurant will shut down after the Tom Grant Band performance scheduled for Sunday evening.

“I thank you all for the love, support, and most of all the memories!” he wrote. “Aloha Ahui Hou.”

Aloha Cafe

Owens first opened the Aloha Cafe at Evergreen Boulevard and Columbia Street in 1994, offering a mix of Northwest- and Polynesian-style food. The deli later became known as Tommy O’s Cafe, and in 2002 Owens moved the business to 801 Washington St., where he expanded it to a full-scale restaurant.

The Camas Hotel eatery is Owens’ second shot operating multiple locations. He previously opened a second restaurant in east Vancouver in 2008, but it struggled during the recession and Owens opted to close it in 2013 to focus his efforts on the original downtown location.

The downtown location struggled during the recession years, too, and Owens was forced to make cuts to the menu, but by the time the restaurant celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2012, Owens said sales were rebounding.

Owens did not respond to a request for comment from The Columbian.

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