By TESS FICCAGLIA
Special to the PARADE
Cody Pace, operator of Tom & Jerry’s Bar & Grill, family owned since 1977 says he cannot imagine himself doing anything else but running his family’s business. He prides himself on the fact Tom & Jerry’s has succeeded on South Padre Island for 26 years.
Mr. Pace enjoys telling the story of how it all began. His father, Jerry, who passed away in 2021, was a salesman for a well-known beer company while Pace was growing up in McAllen, Texas. In 1977 the Rio Grande Valley was a virtually un-developed area waiting to burst open. Jerry and his co-worker/friend Tom saw the need and opened a small hamburger stand.
Things went so well that they expanded operations and opened a couple more places in the McAllen, Edinburg area. For unknown reasons the friends and partners of Tom and Jerry’s parted ways in 1980. Jerry was able to buy his partner out and continue the brand and name as sole owner.
A few years go by and on his many trips to South Padre Island as a salesman he sees the opportunity to open a full restaurant and bar on this small undeveloped paradise Island. Vacationers needed a place to relax and enjoy a scrumptious meal and a cold beer he thought. That was in 1996 and the rest is history.
Mr. Pace attributes much of Tom & Jerry’s Bar & Grill’s success to his unwavering staff. Some of his kitchen staff has been with him for over 20 years he says. They even smoke the meat they serve right on the premises. The care and passion shows in their preparation and presentation of the many plates server Debbie Hernandez places in front of her customers.
She loves to show pictures she has taken on her phone so they can see exactly what they are in for when they order the jalapeno and cheese stuffed, bacon wrapped chicken bites with house made jalapeno ranch dipping sauce.
Ever heard of that before? How about coconut shrimp with a distinct almond flavor and Thai sauce for that extra kick. Even their salsa is made on site to pour over the soft, luscious Taco Reynosa with fresh avocado and sautéed onions, served with a piping hot cup of awesome charro beans. An appetizer of ice cold oysters can start off the wonderful meal she enjoys serving.
An ice cold blond Firemans #4 draught beer brewed in Blanco, Texas is what the bartender Olivia Mote recommends to pair with the fiery Tex-Mex items Tom & Jerry’s offers. Since the time Ms. Mote moved to the Rio Grande Valley in her mid-teens she has worked in food and beverage and after working for several establishments she says she has found her home. She gives that credit to the customers and management.
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