Long-time breakfast joint returns to Blaine
Tony Andrews first came to Blaine in 1983 and started Tony’s Sandwich Shop in what is now the Bella Marina Italian restaurant. It quickly became a local fixture, but Andrews grew tired of the hectic pace and sold out in 1989.
Fifteen years and five restaurants later Andrews is back, and after a two-year remodeling project opened up Tony’s Just A Bite last Saturday at 679 Peace Portal Drive.
The building, two blocks north of his former location, was erected in 1892. “We call it Tony and Tina’s building,” Andrews said. Tina, his former employee and wife of nearly four years, owned and operated the Canton Garden in Bellingham from 1985 to 1995.
A native of Butler in western Pennsylvania, Andrews continues a family restaurant tradition begun by his grandfather, who opened a 4-stool hot dog sandwich shop in 1912 that grew into a 130-seat restaurant. He worked for his uncle Victor in Chicago before moving on in 1977, opening two 10-stool counter-top sandwich shops in downtown Portland.
In 1983 he opened in Blaine, and in 1986 he opened Tony’s on State in Bellingham. Tony’s Just A Bite on Dupont in Bellingham followed in 1990, the year after he left Blaine, and two years later he opened Sherry’s Grill in Ferndale. When he and his former wife split up, “We began calling it Not Sherry’s Grill,” Andrews laughed.
By 1998 he sold his Bellingham and Ferndale locations and opened Tony’s on the Guide, and a year later opened up a 9-stool Just A Bite in downtown Mount Vernon.
Two years ago he and Tina Tran, a native of Saigon who became a boat person and was brought to the area as a refugee by Sunrise Baptist Church, began working on the inside of their 114-year-old building, and with the expert help of contractors like Ray and Joel Grinstead of Bellingham, who installed the metal ceiling, opened as a seven-stool counter top restaurant with room for 18 more in the back, an area he says makes him “ready for the boardwalk” which also sports a magnificent view of the bay.
He still has the same phone number as before – 332-TONY (8669) – but the prices have gone up. A menu from his old Blaine restaurant featured a quarter-pound burger with everything for $1.60, but that same item will run you $4.55 now. Still, a hearty blueberry pancake breakfast special with an egg and bacon or sausage is only $4.99.
“We like it like this,” Andrews said, “just a few stools so we can talk to people. I like having the grill right by the window.”
The couple will be open seven days a week initially, but eventually plan to close Tuesdays and Wednesdays as well as offer take-out.
For now, they are open at 6:30 a.m. on weekdays and 7:30 on Saturday and Sunday and close at 2 p.m. For more information call them at 332-TONY (8669).