Tres Hombres Restaurants… We hear a margarita blending!

Published on Aug 3, 2015

Or is that a story? Hear it here!

Ask anyone in town for the best place to people watch and you’re likely to hear “Tres!”  That’s short for Tres Hombres Long Bar & Grill, a Chico landmark since 1987 known for its fresh fruit margaritas and hometown hospitality.

Michael Thomas, Co-Owner of Tres Hombres, tells the story of 3 friends from LA in their early 20’s who, in 1974, decided they wanted to live the mountain life and moved to North Lake Tahoe. With a few traditional Mexican recipes from the mother of one of the Hombres wives, no money and boundless youthful spirit, they moved to Kings Beach and opened the Cantina Los Tres Hombres restaurant.  Michael was hired as a host/busser and moved his way up to server, bartender, Assistant Manager and in 1978, GM.

Flash forward 9 years later and one of the original Tres Hombres, Johnny Scurto, found himself in Chico helping family friends open a few restaurants. The big brick building at the corner of 1st and Broadway (build by John Bidwell in 1861) was empty and to Johnny, looked like a good spot for a Tres Hombres. After a quick phone call, Michael soon found himself on his way to Chico.  Michael’s recollection of that day was that it was a scorching 130 degrees (likely 95, but way too hot for a Tahoe boy) and a whirlwind. The two men found themselves meeting the landlord, made some drawings, and promptly went back home to drum up some money from family and friends and went into business together. In January of 1988, Tres Hombres Long Bar & Grill opened its doors.

Since opening, Michael finds himself inspired by the energy and spirit of his staff of 94 (mostly in their 20’s and 30’s) every day. His desire to deliver a quality product has never wavered, and you’ll often find him and his wife sitting at the end of the long bar where he has a view of the entire bar and dining room. Watching a full restaurant of people smiling, laughing and having fun is key to keeping that commitment to a fantastic user experience going.

Life Interrupted.

December 1, 2009 at 2:45 am, Tres Hombres had a kitchen fire. The back half of the building which held the kitchen, offices bathrooms and the adjoining Mr. Pickles Deli was completely destroyed. The front half experienced extensive smoke and water damage. Michael credits the Chico Fire Department for doing an incredible job saving this section of Chico’s oldest building.

The rebuild took about ten months and provided both opportunities and challenges along the way. The City of Chico provided the opportunity for Tres Hombres to add an outdoor patio, which the restaurant had been working on for three years. While the insurance company was wonderful to deal with, Michael says they could only pay to put the restaurant back to the way it was. For the patio expansion to happen, they needed to make the kitchen bigger and more efficient to handle the additional capacity, add seating, dinnerware and additional POS (Point of Sale) software. Their bank at the time would only provide half of the funds they needed to accomplish the expansion.

The Power of Relationships.

Coming back from that disappointing meeting, Michael ran into a fellow downtown business owner he’d known for 22 years, Syl Lucena from Collier Hardware. Syl happened to be on the Board of Directors for Golden Valley Bank. He casually asked Michael “What do we need to do to get you to move your business to GVB?” to which Michael explained his need for funds to complete the expansion.  “I think we can do that,” said Syl “let’s call Mark Francis”.  They called Golden Valley Bank CEO, Mark Francis, and explained the situation. The next afternoon, Mark Francis was sitting at Tres with the documents needed to sign and get the funds needed to complete the expanded remodel. Michael firmly believes that without the help of Golden Valley Bank, they would not have been able to complete the project the way they had desired.

A Place Where Everybody Knows Your Name.

That’s how Michael described his relationship with Golden Valley Bank. He says “I was surprised at first to learn how many officers in the bank and members of the Board of Directors I knew, some as fellow business owners, others as personal friends. Some for over 28 years now.  Beyond that, they take a personal interest in my business and are available at any time for council and advice.  Tres Hombres working with GVB makes good business dollars and sense. Their belief in our ability to succeed has made all the difference. Without the help of Golden Valley I don’t think we’d be as successful as we now are.”

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