LINCOLN BLVD — Quick, pack your freezer full of chili burgers.
Tommy’s Original World Famous Hamburgers on Lincoln Boulevard, which opened 20 years ago next month, may be on its way out. The landlord, Felfam, is interested in bringing in a Starbucks.
Tommy’s is currently on a month-to-month lease and they could get word that they have to leave any day, said Brent Maire, the general manager of the local, family-owned chain.
“You know how that is when you go up against a national chain,” he said.
A total redesign is planned for the space, which sits alone on the edge of a strip mall parking lot at the corner of Pico Boulevard. The designs, which include rebuilding two walls, are scheduled go before the Architectural Review Board (ARB) on Monday.
City planners are recommending that the ARB approve the design.
Calls to Felfam and the architects, Architects Orange, were not returned by press time.
Maire said they love the location and they are actively pursuing a new Santa Monica home.
“We were always anxious to be in the area and we’ve enjoyed our stay to be honest with you,” he said. “(City Hall) has been great to work with. The residents have been great to work with.”
The location is perfect for Tommy’s, Maire said, because it draws a lot of walk-up traffic in an area where parking is tight. The space has long been a hangout for students from Santa Monica High School, which is located right around the corner.
“I started coming here when I was a freshman five years ago,” said Rossana Zokhrabova, now a freshman at Santa Monica College.
She stops by about once a month to get a cheeseburger with fries and chili on the side.
She frowned as she heard news of Tommy’s possible demise.
“I would chill here a lot with my friends after school,” she said. “I don’t know where else I’m going to go for a chili cheeseburger. This is my place.”
Tommy’s has 34 other locations but the Santa Monica branch is the only one on the Westside.
“I’ll have to come back a whole bunch of times because it’s closing,” she said laughing.
David Liu, also a Samohi graduate, lives on the south side of town and stops by about once a month for the number two: a cheeseburger with french fries and a drink.
“I don’t want to see a Starbucks come in,” Liu said. “I hate coffee and I love their burgers. Plus, we don’t need a Starbucks. There are enough in the area already.”
According to Starbucks’ website there are currently 18 locations in the city by the sea. There are another eight Coffee Bean & Tea Leafs and two Peet’s Coffee & Teas.
Santa Monica lost another local chain last summer when Norms closed its doors. The future of Denny’s remains unclear. Its property was purchased by a housing developer but the restaurant remains open.
Maire said they tried to re-up Tommy’s lease but didn’t have any luck.
“We don’t know if it’s a matter of pricing,” he said. “We gave it our best shot. If anyone knows of a location that would work for us, we’re looking.”