NAME: Tommy Hunter
Biography: A chef famous as one of the leaders of Philadelphia's restaurant renaissance. He was the founding chef of Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and co-founder of the Restaurant School.
Source: Donna St. George, Inquirer Staff Writer Tom Hunter, 43, a witty, artistic executive chef who was at the forefront of Philadelphia's restaurant renaissance and helped start the Restaurant School, died Friday at Pennsylvania Hospital after suffering from lung cancer. A chef who had learned by doing and by watching his mother, Mr. Hunter was regarded as one of the city's best teachers, a professional who had an innate talent in the kitchen and took great pride in every meal he prepared. "HisPublished on 1988-07-26, Page B06, Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA)
From the History of "Friday, Saturday, Sunday"...
It was the most improbable of beginnings. In a business known for it’s high failure rate, Friday Saturday Sunday Restaurant was launched on a dare: Jay Gubin dared Weaver Lilley and Arnie Roberts to open a restaurant with him by each putting $2000.00 into a hat.
Jay Guben, a brilliant concept person, was the perennial entrepreneur. Arnie Roberts, a “natural” marketing whiz, was also one of the best ad designers in the city. Weaver Lilley, a photographer with a keen eye, was shooting some of the most exciting ads in town. What did they know about restaurants? Not a great deal, but they were able to open a restaurant that has one of the longest and most successful track records in Philadelphia.
Of course, $6000 was not quite enough. It would require the additional help of four more partners (making the total investment a very modest $14000). One of those partners was the first Chef, Tommy Hunter. He eventually left FSS with Jay to start the Restaurant School. Jeanine Autret was a journalist and contributor to the Philadelphia Bulletin. Bud Bretschneider, a carpenter, was responsible for the construction of the restaurant. Annie Perrier, was the wife of George Perrier, chef and owner of Le Bec Fin. Although she had not worked in a restaurant, she brought along a great deal of George’s help and her own terrific sense of humor.
Back in those days, a sense of humor was an important thing. The physical plant was ancient. The refrigeration was supplied by a series of second hand apartment refrigerators lined-up in a row. Desserts were being carried in from Jeanine’s apartment kitchen up the street. Everybody was over educated. The dishwasher had a PhD. The entire wait staff had college degrees. But except for Tom Hunter, no one had been trained for what they were about to do. A crash course in the running of a restaurant was about to begin.
This turned out to be a very difficult way to have a lot of fun. However, six months after the restaurant’s opening, on a Saturday night, a line of waiting customers could be seen stretching out the door, down the block and around the corner of 21st and Spruce streets. Unfortunately, many of those people never made it into Friday Saturday Sunday that night due to the slow turnover. However, those that did returned home with fantastic reports of fabulous food, inexpensive prices and a captivating atmosphere. Now over twenty-nine years have passed and many of the faces have changed. However, the traditions of quality food, fair prices and charming atmosphere are alive and well at Friday Saturday Sunday and continue to drive this restaurant’s popularity.
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Date of Birth: 5/14/1945
Date of Death (delete if non-applicable): 7/22/1988
Age at Death (delete if non-applicable): 43
Part owner of Friday, Saturday, Sunday
Instructor at The Restaurant School
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