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Tommy's Restaurant

Tom Frew

Courtesy of the Fallbrook Historical Society

Tommy was Thomas Elias Morris (1878-1966), an England born long-time resident of Fallbrook. The first mention of Tommy's Restaurant is when the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce announced a luncheon meeting at Tommy's on October 22, 1935. (1)

Tommy's began as a small café renting a narrow space in what was then known as the Tiffany building just a few feet away from the coffee shop located in the southeast corner of the older 1930 El Real hotel. (2)

Tommy's sat on the less savory side of Main Ave. On the south side of the restaurant was a pool hall. A liquor store anchored the corner of Fig Street.

Apparently, Tommy's with its menu of complete lunch and dinner with wine and beer was able to thrive in between these competitors. In December of 1936, Morris was able to purchase the whole building that he was renting space in. He expanded his dining room, taking over the space of other tenants. (3)

In the 1940s, Morris took on a partner named Sam Kostich (1896- 1992) who took on the more visible role of managing Tommy's Restaurant. At the 131 S. Main Ave. Tommy's Restaurant, Kostich installed two shuffleboard tables, a mammoth jukebox, and red leather bar stools in 1951. (4)

Shuffleboard tournaments were organized. Fallbrook trophies won against Vista or Oceanside shuffleboard teams were publicly displayed in the restaurant.

Fallbrook's varying dining preferences and demographics were reflected in Tommy's changing menus over the years. Tommy's would always be a place to get a steak dinner or BBQ sandwich and some cold beer. In 1949, spaghetti dinners were featured. Tommy's began to advertise "Spanish food," including tacos. By 1958, pizza pie was on the menu along with "Mexican food." Pizza delivery was offered. (5)

Tommy's Restaurant ended when it was sold in 1959 to Charles White. The restaurant then became known as Whitey's Café. By 1969, the hotel coffee shop next door became known as Whitey's Bar. (6)

The history gets murky after this. The business changed hands a couple more times. It is not clear when the old Tiffany building, a.k.a. Tommy's/Whitey's Restaurant was torn down, leaving the vacant space that is a parking lot today.


(1) Fallbrook Enterprise October 18, 1935

(2) Fallbrook Historic Resources Inventory item #54, September 1991 prepared by Susan H. Carrico & S. Kathleen Flanigan for San Diego County

(3) Fallbrook Enterprise December 4, 1936

(4) Fallbrook Enterprise August 24, 1951

(5) Fallbrook Enterprise August 7, 1958.

(6) San Diego Union Tribune, June 19, 2005, by Betty Johnston


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