Tommy from Tommy's

People of the Big Dig: Tommy from Tommy's

The DK! team went “digging” around in some of downtown Kingston’s most unique businesses to bring you the inside scoop on the front of staff you come face-to-face with every day. These employees are the backbone to the restaurants, shops, and services you rely on. Let’s dive right in and get to know “The People of the Big Dig!” 


Tommy from Tommy's
377 Princess St.

Stepping into Tommy’s, you’ll immediately feel like you’ve gone back in time. The checkered floor, the decorative memorabilia and the leather booths give this diner a retro vibe, while the sports screens, modern music and copious amounts of tattoos add a 21st-century flair. A Kingston staple since 2011, Tommy’s is a hub for students, locals, tourists and everyone in between! From a greasy breakfast, frothy (and sometimes boozy) milkshakes to some crazy creations (like the 9 different kinds of poutine and even a deep-fried mars bar) there’s no better place than Tommy’s to catch up with familiar faces any time of day or night (did we mention they’re open 24hrs. on weekends?). We chatted with owner Tommy, about how his dream diner came to be, and what he loves about working in downtown Kingston.

What is your favourite thing about downtown Kingston?

My favourite part about downtown Kingston is the sense of community. As Kingston has grown far to the West and now is expanding East, I like that I can walk the streets of downtown and run into familiar faces -  the managers and owners of shops and restaurants, even the local beat cops. I love going out alone at night or patio hopping during the day and just having drinks with whoever I run in to. Walking into downtown establishments is like walking into Cheers. Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name!

What is your favourite product that you offer?

This is tough question for me to answer. When I built Tommy's I designed the exact type of place I would want to hang out in every day. I love nostalgia diners, but the 2 things that sets Tommy's apart are:

1) We take pride in offering quality food at diner prices and in a diner atmosphere… I like to think we go above and beyond what’s typically expected from a diner; and

2) I like that we're both a diner and a bar. We serve breakfast and old-fashioned milkshakes all day, but we also have drink specials nightly and Kingston's best pub food. It certainly sets us apart from all other diners and bars in Kingston.

What is your background?

My family has been farming in the Kingston area for more than 150 years, just North in Joyceville. I started working at McDonald’s at the age of 15 and immediately fell in love with the hospitality industry. I graduated from La Salle Secondary School in 2003 and finished the Hotel and Restaurant Management program from St. Lawrence College in 2006. I've worked all around Canada, from the Primrose Dining Room in Banff, to the Wildfire in Invermere B.C., to Milestones in Toronto and even the Plaza Gentlemen's Lounge in Kingston. I've worked for most major food companies in Canada including 3 McDonald’s restaurants, Tim Hortons, Casey's, Milestones, two Boston Pizzas, Montana's, Wild Wings and Prime Restaurants Pub Division - before it was bought by Cara.

Though I enjoyed travelling and working both around the world and in Canada, I knew I always wanted to settle down in Kingston. When I'm not working I'm an avid motorcycle enthusiast, a recreational skydiver (I've completed 74 jumps to date) and every winter I find my way out West for a week of skiing in the Rockies. As a newlywed I realized I may need to find hobbies that my wife can partake in, so I bought a motorcycle with a passenger seat. I also captain several recreational sports teams which are really just good excuses to drink beer and play games with friends.

What television character do you feel is most similar to you?

The television character that I compare myself to the most is definitely Bob from Bob's Burgers. He’s just a regular guy running his little business. Even though it’s not big and fancy, he's super proud of what he does. I watch that show a lot and often make comparisons.

Star Wars or Star Trek?

Star Wars, that’s not even a real question.

Sweet or salty?

No one should be forced to choose between sweet and salty. I believe it’s possible to have it all! Check out the flapjack wraps or the Paddy Cakes on my menu, the perfect balance between sweet and salty! I never decide between popcorn or M&Ms at a movie, I get the popcorn and then dump the M&Ms into the popcorn bag. Haven't tried buttered M&Ms? Don't deny yourself the pleasure! 

Favourite Pizza toppings?

Bacon and mushrooms. I don't like to get too fancy…too many toppings takes away from the pizza. The tough part in Kingston is deciding where to get the pizza! Kingston is blessed with amazing pizza places like Paradiso, Gino's, Tata's, Tony's etc... As far as real messy, pizzeria style pizza goes, Kingston just can't be beat! If we're talking about fancy pizza, I like to hit the Rustic Spud or Woodenhead’s!