[Source: Phoenix Business Journal]
Long-time downtown restaurateur Michael Ratner passed away on Tuesday afternoon after a long battle with cancer.
The owner of Tom’s Tavern since 1982, Ratner led the operations of the restaurant that was long known as a place for politicians to meet and eat. The restaurant has served Phoenix customers for 80 years.
Steve Chucri, president and CEO of the Arizona Restaurant Association, said Ratner’s passing is a loss to the Valley’s business community.
Ratner had served for decades as a board member of the Arizona Restaurant Association and worked hard on behalf of other restaurateurs, Chucri said.
“Mike was a good example of what restaurateurs across the nation are all about. It’s hospitality. He was there every day greeting guests, talking to them, making sure they were happy and making sure they would come back. He thrived on that and that’s why customers kept coming back,” Chucri said.
Ratner also was a founding member of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership and served on its board for 20 years.
“He was truly passionate about downtown and he will be greatly missed,” said David Roderique, president and CEO of Downtown Phoenix Partnership.
Tom’s Tavern was opened in 1929 by Tom Higley in the old city morgue building, 136 W. Adams St. in downtown Phoenix. It changed hands a few times over the years and moved to its current location in the Renaissance Building, 2 N. Central Ave., in 1988. Ratner bought the business in 1992 from the Big 4, a business group made up of some Chicago natives.
During an interview with the Phoenix Business Journal about a year ago, Ratner said business was done a little differently in the Valley back then.
“I really bought this place on a handshake, and then the paperwork followed,” he said.
Services have yet to be announced, but friends are hoping to organize a gathering on Nov. 18 at the restaurant to celebrate his life, Roderique said