Tom's Lunch, which stood across from the Budd Co. factory in Nicetown, had a family history touching two families.

It was named Pete's, after Tom Bezanis' father, when it opened in the 1920s in a tin shed on Hunting Park Avenue near Fox Street.

But Tom told a Philadelphia Daily News reporter in 2003 that one day, Edward G. Budd, an executive of the family-owned firm and a regular customer, told Pete that he had bought the property and that Pete's would have to move nearby.

The reporter wrote, "Budd built him a new place and said he'd never have to worry about the rent."

In 1948, Tom Bezanis took over the luncheonette from his father and ran it as Tom's Lunch. As Budd was about to close its Nicetown operation in 2003, Tom closed shop too.

On Saturday, April 20, Thomas Bezanis, 82, of Blackwood, died at Kennedy University Hospital in Washington Township of complications from a stroke.

Mr. Bezanis' son Mark said Monday that his father regularly "worked from 3 o'clock" in the morning "and closed the place at 4" in the afternoon.

Mark Bezanis recalled that when he asked about getting up in the middle of the night, his father said there were "always several customers that came in for their coffee" at that early hour, "and 'I need to be there.' "

Mark said the simple fact was that "he loved the customers, they loved him, and we never wanted for anything."

The Daily News article reported that the story of Tom's Lunch was "the story of a time in Philadelphia that has all but faded - a boom time, of factories and lunch pail union jobs that supported generations of families, filled rowhouses by the thousands, and built working-class communities."

Mr. Bezanis told the reporter that "we'd go through 28 dozen doughnuts for breakfasts and there were always three urns of coffee brewing."

But on the day of the reporter's visit in 2003, as the foreign owner of Budd was about to move its metal-stamping and auto-parts assembly out of town, Tom's needed only one box of doughnuts and one coffee urn.

Still, he told the reporter, "it was always fun to come to work."

Born in Philadelphia, Mr. Bezanis was a graduate of Northeast High School in Philadelphia and served in the Navy Reserve from 1949 to 1956.

In the 1940s, Mr. Bezanis was a 145-pound running back for the Cayuga Bears, an amateur football team in the Hunting Park neighborhood, his son said.

In the 1960s and 1970s, he coached players of grammar-school age on football and baseball teams for the Crispin Gardens Athletic Club in Northeast Philadelphia.

Besides Mark, Mr. Bezanis is survived by wife Jennie; sons John, Thomas, and Matthew; a sister; and five grandchildren.

A visitation was set from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 22, at Laurel Hill Bible Church, 1260 Blackwood-Clementon Rd., Blackwood, N.J. 08021, before a 7 p.m. memorial service there.

Donations may be made to the church.

Condolences may be offered to the family at www. gardnerfuneralhome.com.

Contact Walter F. Naedele
at 610-313-8134, wnaedele@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @WNaedele.