After a month-long delay, Tommy's reopened its doors to hungry patrons Monday, but it is no longer a place to Lunch. It is now a pizza joint.
With an entirely new menu and decor, Tommy's House of Pizza--initially scheduled to open January 2--has now supplanted the 35-year-old institution on Mount Auburn Street run by Thomas (Tommy) Stephanian.
And it is clear the Tommy's experience, for better or worse, will never be quite the same. Though its reincarnation was as unheralded as its untimely death, the new Tommy's has been drawing crowds since its reopening, according to firsthand eyewitness accounts and new owner Richard Vernon.
The gleaming chrome, mirrored walls and powerful lighting create an atmosphere very different from that of the old Tommy's, which some students described as "sinister," "grungy" and "really freakish."
"The ambiance that I'm trying to maintain here is that of a hangout. I encourage people to come in and chew the fat," Vernon said. "People can still sit and have a little quiet, and at the same time it's clean."
Although many patrons said they were pleased with the newer, cleaner Tommy's, some former regulars said they were unhappy with the changes.
Markham C. O'Keefe '93 said the revamped luncheonette is "overly sanitary and too bright. I miss the guys behind the counter in V-neck undershirts."
O'Keefe is one of several Harvard Lampoon editors who remembers Tommy's Lunch with a fond sigh. They liked Tommy's Lunch because "the food was expensive and bad and they yelled at you. It was a good place for masochists," O'Keefe said.
As for the food, raspberry lime rickeys and onion rings are gone from the menu, replaced by pizza and new larger burgers.
Tommy's Lunch closed its doors November 22, when Stephanian sold the restaurant to Vernon, an experienced restaurant operator and two partners.
"There were people who'd been coming for years who considered this a second home. But more people said they hoped I'd clean it up," said Vernon, who did keep the video and pinball games, which seems to keep many customers coming back.
The House of Pizza was packed to capacity yesterday, with several University guards playing pinball and St. Paul's elementary school students crowding several deep around the flashing games.