Original Tommy's

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Coordinates: 34°04′10″N 118°16′35″W / 34.069545°N 118.276368°W / 34.069545; -118.276368

Original Tommy's World Famous Hamburgers
Industry Fast food restaurants
Founded Los Angeles, California
United States (1946)
Headquarters Monrovia, California
Number of locations
34[1] (31 California, 3 Nevada)
Key people
Thomas James "Tommy" Koulax, Founder (1918-1992)
Products hamburgers, hot dogs, tamales, chili, french fries, soft drinks
Website originaltommys.com
The original location, at Beverly & Rampart. The Shack is in the foreground, the building surrounding is also a part of the restaurant. Patrons eat at their cars or standing at the counter along the back walls.

Original Tommy's is a hamburger restaurant chain in Southern California, United States. It is known for its chili burgers.[2]


The original location was opened on May 15, 1946, by Tom Koulax[3] (October 26, 1918 - May 28, 1992), the son of Greek immigrants, on the northeast corner of Beverly and Rampart boulevards west of downtown Los Angeles.[4] The stand, which still exists today, sold hamburgers and hot dogs topped with chili. At first business was slow, but it soon started to pick up. During the 1960s, the entire lot at this intersection was purchased. Soon after, the northwest corner was acquired for expanded parking and storage of goods. Not long after that, a second service counter occupying the building at the perimeter of the northeast lot was set up. The food was essentially the same from both locations, except for longer lines at the original shack counter, perhaps for nostalgic reasons.[5]

Tommy's grew to 30 locations by 2006. Most Original Tommy's restaurants are found in the Greater Los Angeles Area. In recent years several locations have closed. The Santa Monica location was closed on April 20, 2014 when the landlord refused to renew the lease[6][7][8] and leased the location to Starbucks instead.[9]

In 2008, the company expanded for the first time outside of California by opening two locations in Clark County, Nevada.[10] A third Nevada location was opened in 2013.[11][12][13]

The company is based in Monrovia, California, after years at Glendale, California, and is run by the late Mr. Koulax's family.


Chili Cheese Fries, served at the original location (note: cheese is served under the chili).

A ladle or two of Koulax's signature chili tops nearly every available menu item, even the breakfast sandwich. Original Tommy's chili is a mixture of an all-beef chili con carne base, flour, water, and a "secret" blend of spices, and resembles a condiment more than a conventional bowl of chili. The flour-water mixture allows the chili to "set up" and adhere to the burger or fries. All the chili is made to exact specifications and is the same in each location.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Company website as of 2015-05-27
  2. ^ "Local Chains 101". Washington Post. April 25, 2004. Retrieved 6 February 2013 – via Highbeam Research. (Subscription required (help)). 
  3. ^ Gould, Lark Ellen (2005-04-01). Los Angeles: Off the Beaten Path: A Guide to Unique Places. Globe Pequot. p. 34. ISBN 9780762735235. Retrieved 6 February 2013. 
  4. ^ Bartholomew, Dana (May 16, 2006). "Tommy Built it; They Came". Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved 6 February 2013 – via Highbeam Research. (Subscription required (help)). 
  5. ^ "Original Tommy's Hamburgers". Original Tommys. 
  6. ^ The Original Tommy's (March 14, 2014). "We have some sad news to report". facebook.com. Retrieved March 20, 2014. 
  7. ^ Simpson, David Mark (February 20, 2014). "Tommy’s burgers may get booted for Starbucks". Santa Monica Daily Press. 
  8. ^ "Tommy's Closes After 20 Years". Santa Monica Observer. April 21, 2014. 
  9. ^ Simpson, David Mark (April 20, 2015). "Starbucks opening 21st location in Santa Monica". Santa Monica Daily Press. 
  10. ^ "Today's News". Las Vegas Advisor. September 13, 2008. 
  11. ^ "Original Tommy's Opens Third Nevada Location". Restaurant Facility Business. November 27, 2013. 
  12. ^ Martin, Bradley (April 17, 2013). "Original Tommy's Hamburgers Adds a Drive Thru". Eater Las Vegas. 
  13. ^ Stapleton, Susan (September 26, 2013). "Load Up on Chili Burgers and Fries at the New Original Tommy's Hamburgers". Eater Las Vegas. 

External links[edit]