Rock City Grill's move from River Park Square to the South Hill presented Tomato Street owner Dean Haynes with an opportunity. And he took it.
Growing up in Medical Lake, Haynes began working in the restaurant industry while attending Eastern Washington University, then moved to Cyrus O'Leary's after graduating. Together with Cyrus O'Leary's owners Cyrus Vaughn and Erkki Oranen, Haynes wanted to create an Italian-style restaurant with an upbeat, family atmosphere similar to Cyrus O'Leary's. In 1993, they opened Tomato Street Italian Restaurant in Coeur d'Alene.
Haynes opened the Tomato Street on Division Street in north Spokane a year later; it's now known for its massive chalkboards, pizzas, pasta and Lazonni — lasagna built into a calzone.
Haynes wasn't planning on opening a third restaurant until he learned Jim and Rose Rhoades were moving Rock City Grill out of River Park Square. After discovering that he could take over the rest of their lease, Haynes knew this would be a great opportunity for the Tomato Street family.
"We pretty much brought the whole culture of our business down to the downtown location," says Haynes. "The menu is the same. The style, our concept, our home-cooked food and even a few employees from up north are all here."
Tomato Street also brought its 4 to 6 pm weekday early happy hour — including free pizza with a drink order. Late weekday happy hour, from 9 pm to close, offers discounted drinks and half off appetizers.
Though the River Park Square location is significantly smaller than the Division spot, Shandino's — the bar named by Tomato Street's artist Brian Trim, combining Haynes' and his wife Shannon's names — is fairly large and gives Tomato Street a bar-and-lounge-specific area in addition to being a family-friendly restaurant.
Haynes says downtown businesses have already been ordering party platters to go, and he hopes to continue growing that option. Once the weather warms up, Haynes is looking forward to opening the patio and seeing the lively crowds for downtown events such as Bloomsday and Hoopfest.
"We originally put together a bunch of ideas and have kind of nurtured this place through the years," says Haynes. "With everything that's going on downtown, this will be a place for the whole Tomato Street family to grow." ♦
Tomato Street • River Park Square, 808 W. Main, Suite #106 • Open daily from 11 am to 10 pm • tomatostreet.com • 315-4175