For nine decades Tom’s Tavern has been a venerable Phoenix landmark in the heart of downtown Phoenix.
Since 1929, back when Tom Higley converted the old City Morgue and old pipe shop into a burger joint and gin mill, Tom’s has been a city favorite. Over the years Tom’s earned the reputation as the local gathering place for all kinds of Arizona big shots. 21 Governors, 25 Mayors and hundreds of city council members have discussed the events of the day, dined on classic dishes and enjoyed libations with professionals, celebrities and locals.
Tom’s reputation avows that the main attraction was not the food, but a small door leading into a darkened, smoke filled room, smelling of bourbon, pool cue chalk and stale cigarettes housing pool tables. According to a long time employee named Leroy, who worked at Tom’s from 1943-1977, “More cases were decided at Tom’s than in the courthouse.” By 1977 the urban sprawl of Phoenix took its toll on the establishment. With increased competition, a decaying building and a changing downtown landscape, Tom’s original location on Adams Street was torn down.As downtown experienced a rebirth in the late 1980’s, Tom’s was reborn. The year 1988 unveiled the new Tom’s Tavern at One Renaissance Square. Although there was a new physical location at One Renaissance Square, Tom’s long time customers once again enjoyed standards from the original menu such as the infamous burger and Tom’s Chili
Today, Arizona and Downtown Phoenix continue to grow and Tom’s is once again experiencing its own renaissance. While Tom’s is being refreshed and renewed, it is important to the new owners, the Gallen Family that the traditions, character and rich political history of Tom’s continues well into the future. The Gallen’s plan are to match the rich history of Tom’s by creating a new legacy of the highest quality food, wine and service.
Chef Gallen respects the history of Tom’s (Tom Higleys original brisket chili recipe is still in use) as a food and wine initiative Tom’s is doing its part to unite area farmers, ranchers and consumers in order to stimulate the sustainable local food economy in Phoenix and Arizona. Jim Gallen as owner is committed to using Arizona farms and ranches that use sustainable methods of production, or grow organic produce, and marketers who sell locally produced food products.