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Tommy Lee Obituary

Tommy Q. Lee
Tommy Q. Lee

January 24, 1936 - August 10, 2020
Born in China
Resided in Salinas, California
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Tommy Q. Lee 84 passed away peacefully on August 10, 2020, at his home. He was born on January 24, 1936, in China.

He immigrated to the US when he was 15 years old. He married his wife Judy in 1964. He began his restaurant business in 1973, running the coffee shop inside Cypress Bowling Alley. He then moved his business to Seaside from 1977-2002 in which Tommy’s Restaurant became famous for the “Working Man’s Breakfast” for just $.99. In 2002, he moved the restaurant to its current location in Marina.

Tommy lived life to the fullest spending time with his grandchildren and going to Las Vegas and other local casinos.

He is survived by his wife, Judy; his son Richard (Laura); his daughters Nancy (Russell) and Susie and his 4 grandchildren.

Family, friends, and others whose lives Tommy touched are invited to a visitation 12:00p.m. to 2:00p.m. Sunday, August 16, 2020 at Struve & Laporte Funeral Home, 41 West San Luis Street, Salinas, California, 93901.

Our dad lived the American Dream. He immigrated to the US when he was 15 years old. He worked at his Aunt’s laundry service business. His first job was with a grocery store & he eventually worked his way up to becoming a produce manager at Luckys. He got into the restaurant business by accident. Luckys went on strike & he didn’t know how long it would last. A friend told him about an opportunity to own a coffee shop inside Cypress Bowling Alley. Our dad decided to take a chance & agreed to run the coffee shop even though he had no prior restaurant experience. He learned a lot from watching the existing staff. In 1977, the bowling alley was sold & he had to find a new location. He found restaurant space on Fremont Street in Seaside. That’s where the iconic “Working Man’s Breakfast for $.99” was born. That breakfast special stayed the same until 2016. The coffee shop moved to its current location in Marina in 2007.

He married our mom Judy in 1964 in Hong Kong. Our mom immigrated to the US after they were married. Their first born daughter was Nancy, their second child was Richard, and our little sister Susie came along last. Since I was the oldest, he was constantly wishing for a grandchild. His wish came true in 2002 when Karina was born. He loved being a grandfather. He was so happy when Lindsay, Darren & Ryan were born. The more grandkids the better.

Our dad loved to go to Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas & other local casinos to play Black Jack & the slot machines. He had the best luck-he always came back with some winnings. Whenever he needed some extra money, he would say to my mom that it’s time to go to the bank. He loved going on family vacations with all of his children & grandchildren. There would be a lot of yelling & arguing on these trips but we always had a good time.

Our dad was larger than life & he was always willing to help people. He helped my cousins start their own successful restaurant businesses, gave jobs to people who needed work, & gave away many free meals. We will miss his smiling face, his sage advice, & his love of family. We will continue to honor his legacy & will never forget that family always comes first.




Struve and Laporte Chapel
41 W. San Luis Street
Salinas, California 93901
Sunday, August 16, 2020
12:00 PM - 2:00 PM