Tommy’s Burgers Turns 75

Before embarking on our Koreatown tour, we stopped at Tommy’s for a bite, and it just so happened to be their 75th anniversary!

This small shack might not look like much, but it’s here where chili burgers first made their mark in Southern California. Born to Greek immigrants in Oklahoma City, Tom Koulax arrived in California in 1928. After serving as a shipyard welder during World War II he opened up a hot dog stand at Florence and Main. But when he lost his lease there he spied this shack at the corner of Beverly and Rampart, opening up Tommy’s in May of 1946, a year before In N Out would hit the scene.

By the 1960s Koulax had the whole corner, opening up another serving counter. In the 1970s he expanded to have multiple locations, and today Tommy’s can be found throughout Southern California and even Nevada.

The iconic red roof of the original shack, with a small blue sign with a red arrow atop it. Script reads "Tommy's Hamburgers & Hot Dogs"

Tommy's Corner. On the edge of the corner is the original small shack, beyond it a small parking lot flanked by the red and white L shaped building housing another order counter and drinks.

Sign celebrating 75 years. An illustration of the small original shack with text overlay reading "Original Tommy's 75th Anniversary 1946-2021 World Famous Hamburgers"

Close-up of the neon sign atop the shack's red roof reading "Tommy's Hamburgers & Hot Dogs"

"Open 24 Hours" painted in red and white on the side of the original shack.

Newer backlit plastic sign featuring an illustration of the original shack with text reading "Original Tommy's World Famous Hamburgers Open 24 Hours"

Myself sipping from a 75th anniversary cup.

Tommy's expanded corner, with an order window on the right, and fountain drinks served on the left.

A mural featuring an old fashioned Pepsi bottle cap. Script reads "Drink Ice Cold Pepsi Cola"

Marquee featuring the Tommy's logo and reading "75th anniversary May 15 2021 Thanks Los Angeles"

Angled view of the neon atop of the red roof reading "Tommy's Hamburgers & Hot Dogs"

Hailed as the perfect late night burger spot, since it’s open 24 hours, it’s never without a line. Regularly making restaurant lists for California, it was also featured on The Burger Show, from the YouTube channel First We Feast.

Grab a chili burger (which by the way, chili comes on EVERYTHING, but don’t worry, you can ask for it on the side) at the original Tommy’s shack at 2575 W. Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles. Want a closer location? Check out the list of spots here.

Sources
About.” Original Tommy’s. Accessed 21 May 2021
Folkart, Burt A. “Tommy Koulax, Builder of Hamburger Chain, Dies.” Los Angeles Times, 29 May 1992. Accessed 21 May 2021.

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