Tommy’s Restaurant in Cleveland Heights turns 50

Tom Fello outside of Tommy’s. | Submitted photo

By Becky Raspe

Tommy’s Restaurant in Cleveland Heights is celebrating its 50th year.

The restaurant, which opened in 1972 at the corner of Coventry Road and Euclid Heights Boulevard, started as a small soda fountain shop and later moved to two other locations – 1820 Coventry Road in April 1978 and to its current location in 1988. For a time, Tommy’s operated kitchen service in its second location and dining service in its current location, when a fire destroyed half of a block of Coventry Road, including Tommy’s dining room. All operations moved to the current location,
1824 Coventry Road, in May 1993.

Owner Tom Fello told the CJN early this year that hitting the 50th anniversary is “unbelievable.”

“It went by so fast, and I wouldn’t have done it any differently,” he says. “I love it, and I love what I do. I was lucky to find something to do in my teens and start this. The neighborhood really took care of me, and I’m so thankful, grateful and lucky for it.”

Tom Fello, owner of Tommy’s Restaurant, stands in his kitchen with milkshakes. | Submitted photo

When he first took over the drugstore that would become Tommy’s, Fello said he had “no idea” what he was doing. But, the customers and community saw to it that it would become the beloved institution it is today. Tommy’s specializes in “having something for everyone,” Fello says, with milkshakes, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and health-conscious items on the menu. Most items are named after the first customer to create said menu item throughout the years.

“We’ve basically had the same menu since 1972, and we were ahead of the curve with vegetarian and vegan options,” says Fello, adding that most hippies of his generation were also vegetarian and vegan, but their parents were meat eaters. “I feel strongly that the family unit is very important – being able to go out as a family unit to get something to eat. And there is something on the menu for everyone. I think that is what’s kept us alive and relevant in people’s minds.”

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