Industry News | August 23, 2012

Tom & Eddie's Celebrates Two Years

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Tom & Eddie’s is celebrating two years since its Lombard, Illinois, restaurant first opened on August 27, 2010, at The Shops on Butterfield. 

Special promotions are planned for customers. The first 15 people whose birthday is on August 27 will receive a free birthday entrée, redeemable at all locations.

To extend the birthday celebration all week—from Monday, August 27 to Saturday, September 1—double loyalty points will be awarded on Tom & Eddie's Loyalty Cards, also at all locations.  

Taking place only in Lombard is a special promotion that offers free goodie bags to the first 50 customers on August 27. For the ladies, gift certificates for $20 toward a manicure, pedicure, and hair color will be given out from Asha Salon Spa next door to Tom & Eddie's Lombard.

In addition, a magician will dazzle Lombard guests from 6–8 p.m. on Monday, August 27.

 “We are committed to giving our guests the best,” says Ed Rensi, president and cofounder of Tom & Eddie’s, “and that means affordable meals, the freshest ingredients, and warm hospitality that, all together, create a relaxed and happy dining experience.” 

The founders—Rensi and Tom Dentice—knew opening four restaurants in the first year would be daunting, but the high 90s satisfaction ratings customers consistently give is proof that meticulous planning pays off.

Restaurants are in Lombard, Geneva, Deerfield, and Vernon Hills, Illinois.

“Ed and I have been doing this for a few years,” Dentice says, referring to their combined 70 years of experience with McDonald’s. “Although Tom & Eddie’s is very different from McDonald’s, both of us learned a lot from our experience there.”

In 1984, Rensi was named CEO of McDonald’s USA, a position he held until 1998, and Dentice is the former executive vice president in charge of operations and training.

Each man started as a trainee in single drive-up hamburger stands, making less than a dollar an hour. A couple of decades later, they became top executives with the world’s most successful quick-service restaurant company.

Dentice and Rensi’s top priority was, and remains, taste and flavor from fresh ingredients. The tomatoes and meat are fresh, and the french fries are hand cut by Tom & Eddie's chefs immediately before frying.

They also committed themselves to working with as many local vendors as possible. For example, Chicago-based Turano Breads makes a hamburger bun specifically for Tom & Eddie’s, and Tom & Eddie’s pickles are from Puckered Pickles in Chicago.

But a good burger, the partners agree, is all about the meat.

“It’s surprising how many people actually don’t know how to make a burger,” Dentice says. “It has to do with grill temperature, searing, and the quality of the meat. We use patties of fresh, never frozen, 100 percent Angus Chuck, and our chefs hand form them right before they’re cooked.

“If there’s one compliment we hear consistently, it’s that our customers can taste the meat,” he says. “In fact, our cofounder Vince Naccarato says our meat is so good that a half-pound burger should be a menu standard. We listened. We now offer Half-Pound Mondays at third-pound prices. We get compliments, too, about the flavor of our non-beef burgers-the turkey, edamame, and Ahi Tuna burgers.”

The customer base includes more families than they expected, which Dentice attributes to Tom & Eddie’s strong support of local nonprofit educational organizations.

To date, Tom & Eddie’s has donated many thousands of dollars to the Culinary and Hospitality Center at College of DuPage; the Geneva Academic Foundation; the Batavia Foundation for Educational Excellence; the Deerfield Education Foundation; the Stevenson High School Foundation; and the District 128 Foundation for Learning.  

"Before we opened our first restaurant, Ed and I decided that it is our responsibility to support the local communities where we do business,” Dentice says. “We felt we could have a significant and long-term impact supporting local organizations focused on children and young adults in the areas of education, health, and well being.”    

Rensi says, “It’s all about hospitality. From the décor to the quality wooden toys to the menu, we put good taste in everything we do.”

Later this fall, the pair will open their fifth Tom & Eddie’s in Naperville, Illinois. They are adding new and improved menu items, and are thinking of more limited-time offers. In the meantime, Dentice and Rensi will continue their homemade sauces, concentrating on fresh and local; the “no tipping” policy; green packaging; and going the extra mile for customers.

“Two things differentiate us,” Rensi says. “We focus on fresh ingredients with a strong emphasis on local. That’s one. The other is our hospitality. Frankly, the entire organization powers us up, and it’s energizing. It’s like having a party every day. I am reminded of the phrase: ‘The work of children is play; the play of adults is work.’ We want to build a lot of restaurants. It’s a rebirth every time, and it’s thrilling.”