The dinner bell is ringing at Tommy's Diner.

For the first time in its 27-year history, the popular Franklinton breakfast-and-lunch spot has added permanent dinner hours starting Feb. 1.

"It's something I've wanted to do," said Tommy Pappas, owner of the diner at 914 W. Broad St.

Four to five dinner entrees will be added to the regular menu Wednesday through Saturday. Customers can expect a rotating selection of pasta dishes, seafood and Greek and Italian specialties, with prime rib and steaks added on the weekends.

Most dishes will be in the $13 to $20 range.

Michael Pappas, Tommy Pappas' son and manager of the restaurant, said customers have been asking the family to extend hours for some time.

He said the time is right. The neighborhood redevelopment efforts are gaining traction and the closing of the Florentine, a dining landmark right across the street, has created a void for the dinner crowd.

Tommy's would be glad to feed them.

"I think what draws a lot of people here are our specials," Michael Pappas said. "They're made from scratch every day."

Tommy's is known for its omelets, burgers, sandwiches, fresh soups and salads and daily specials, all competitively priced.

Patrons can expect upgrades to the drink menu, as Tommy's has a full liquor license, Michael Pappas said.

The busy dining room is defined by its speckled-red booths, counter seating and scores of pictures, many featuring Tommy Pappas with local politicos and sports figures, covering the walls.

Tommy's experimented with dinner hours about five years ago, offering them one day a week for three months. Michael Pappas said it went well but was discontinued because of staffing issues.

"Franklinton isn't the same neighborhood it was, even five years ago," he said.

The plan is to stay open until 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

For more information, call 614-224-2422.

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The Refectory will bring in an acclaimed French chef for two nights of fine dining this weekend.

Laurent Blondin, who happens to be the nephew of Refectory chef Richard Blondin, has created a five-course meal to be served at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3, and Saturday, Feb. 4, at the restaurant, 1092 Bethel Road.

Cost for each night is $175.

Advanced sommelier Chris Dillman has chosen 10 wines to go with the meal.

Laurent Blondin has worked under culinary luminaries Alain Ducasse and Fernand Point and was a French finalist for the prestigious Bocuse d'Or cooking competition in Lyon, France.

Kamal Boulos, owner of the Refectory, said the Blondin dinner has been years in the making.

Reservations are required and can be made by calling 614-451-9774.

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Charleys Philly Steaks opened last week at 5033 N. High St. in the Graceland Shopping Center.

It has a slightly different look than other stores, with a more sports-oriented design, and a new menu item: hand-battered, white-meat chicken fingers that are fresh, never-frozen and cooked in 100 percent olive oil. They are served with either coleslaw, Texas toast or French fries and a choice of seven dipping sauces.

Columbus-based Charleys Philly Steaks offers the chicken fingers at only two stores: 6975 E. Broad St. and the Graceland location.

This spring, north Columbus will have a new place to grab a sandwich and cup of coffee -- Vietnamese style.

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Saigon Baguette & Coffee is expected to open in April at 10 Dillmont Drive in the Park Place Center, north of Interstate 270.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary