For Tommy Pappas, "family" extends beyond his wife, children and grandchildren. Customers of Tommy's Diner in Franklinton say they feel like family from the moment they walk in the door.
"I love it," says George Wolf who has been eating at Tommy's for the past 20 years. "It's like going to 'Cheers,'" he adds, referencing the 80s sitcom with the famous tagline "where everybody knows your name."
"I just absolutely love the people here and the family," Wolf says. "My mother came in here on chicken Tuesday and he (Tommy) would always give my mom a hug. I don't know if she liked the chicken or Tommy giving her a hug," Wolf adds with a hearty laugh.
In 1989, Tommy Pappas along with his wife Kathy invested their last penny into opening Tommy's Diner on West Broad Street. Their two sons Louie and Michael pitched in as well.
"Boys started in the dining room," Kathy Pappas said. "Every spring break, Christmas break, summers," she adds.
Walking into Tommy's Diner is like taking a walk back in time. Memorabilia from the 50s line the walls, as do photos of Tommy smiling with local celebrities, politicians, and long-time customers.
Many people say this Franklinton landmark is known to be a place where "business" gets done. But it's also a place where generations of families have passed through.
"I got people coming, they say - Tommy, you remember me? I'm Jack's grandson and this is MY son," Tommy says with a chuckle.
Tommy says he's grateful to customers who have kept his diner open for 30 years. It's not easy in a part of Franklinton that has seen revitalization efforts come and go.
Tommy says hard work, loyalty and simply being himself may be part of the secrets behind his success.
"I don't play no golf, I'm not fishing, this is what I do," says Tommy, who has since passed the family business to his two sons. "This is where my friends are, these are the people I know. It's not just work... have a good time."
To honor 30 years, Tommy was recently invited by the Columbus Clippers to throw out the first pitch at Huntington Park. On July 2, the diner will offer throwback prices to 1989 for eight selected items on the menu.