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Throwback Thursday: An East Main Mainstay

“2020 hasn’t been so nice to us,” declared Yianni Contoravdis as fire crews battled the fire at the Tommy’s Center business complex.   Contoravdis’ family owns and operates Athens Pizza & Pasta Restaurant, the centerpiece of the familiar business plaza located in the 900 block of East Main Street.  Adjoining businesses Cascade Chiropractic and Massage, Salon Focus, Nail Master Too, and Villa Barber Shop also suffered smoke and water damage in the December 9 fire.

Built in 1979, the complex is the namesake of original owner Anastasios Tsantilas, known as Tasso or Tommy to friends and family. Tommy’s Center has had a remarkably stable tenant base over the last 40+ years, avoiding the frequent turnovers often found in similar business developments.  Athens Pizza & Pasta House opened in 1980, shortly after the center was built, quickly becoming one of Auburn’s most popular restaurants.

The neighborhood institution has long given back to the community, regularly donating to the Auburn Food Bank, Toys for Kids, and other local causes.  For the past nine years, Athens has partnered with Barbers Against Hunger in offering complimentary community Thanksgiving dinners.   Serving over 800 guests at a recent holiday meal, co-owner Bill Contoravdis happily reported, “Each year the number of guests served gets larger.” 

The Auburn community has rallied behind Athens, offering assistance and support, with many inquiring to assist the landmark restaurant in their recovery.  Heartfelt Facebook page messages are testimony to Athens’ place in the community; … ‘Auburn loves Athens and always will.  This community will see you through this storm!’

In spite of the challenges of 2020, local citizens and businesses, large and small, have demonstrated the best of the Auburn community.   Reassuring their many devotees, owners Tom and Bill Contoravdis posted the following reassuring message to the Athens Pizza website:

‘We are rebuilding & working to reopen as soon as we can. We have been serving Auburn since 1980 & we are not going anywhere.’

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