The first diner was created in America more than 100 years ago by a man who decided to serve hot food out of a horse-drawn wagon. By the 1920s, the concept of casual, good food became so popular that diner owners started adding flowers, painting cars, and adding restrooms and tables to their diners. Most diners were even able to survive the Depression because the food was inexpensive yet extremely tasty. After World War II, diners boomed and began appearing in the form of restaurants that had unique design, high quality service, and extensive menus. Fortunately, we have the 1950s to thank for America’s deep appreciation for classic diners.
Since diners became a part of the American landscape more than 100 years ago, our culture has been affected in many ways. Currently, diners are an integral part of life in American society and have touched almost every aspect of life including cooking, dining out, Hollywood movies, television shows, art, fashion, and more.
Despite the general interest in the American diner, the success of Tally’s Café did not happen overnight. It took a lot of passion and hard work to establish a diner that has managed to be around for more than a quarter of a century. In fact, Tally Alame, the founder of Tally’s Café, continues to pour his heart and soul into the establishment that he has built.
In 1979, Tally’s family sent him to Tulsa due to the civil war in Lebanon so that he could work for his cousins at Jamil’s Steakhouse and begin his college career at Oklahoma State University. Tally attended college in Stillwater during the week and worked at restaurants in Tulsa every weekend. After college, he stayed in the restaurant business working at Italian Inn in Tulsa, Del Frisco’s in Dallas, and then Ambrosia at the old Sheridan Kensington.
In 1987, Tally noticed that a restaurant on Route 66 called Mark and Mary’s was for sale. It only had one main room and needed a lot of work, but he thought that it had potential. Tally knew there was something special about a diner as a uniquely American invention and decided to buy the business. Tally opened Tally’s Café on Friday the 13th in November 1987 (and no, he did not think it was bad luck) and began serving his free Thanksgiving dinners to the homeless only a couple of weeks later. With a heart full of gratitude and a strong desire to give back, Tally has continued to offer the free holiday dinner every year.
Since the day that Tally’s Café opened, Tally has greatly expanded the space; he opened a second dining room in 1990 and acquired additional space to add on a 50-seat banquet room and full bar in 2016. Tally’s Café now has a 2nd location in South Tulsa, which opened in 2017 and is operated by James Alame, Tally’s son.
The number one goal at Tally’s Café has always been customer satisfaction—if something doesn’t suit you, just tell us and we’ll fix it! Our three basic principles are to (1) treat every person who enters the diner just as you would like to be treated, (2) serve plenty of good wholesome food at a reasonable price, and (3) never use anything but the highest quality of food available.
We are open 7 days per week for breakfast (served all day), lunch, and dinner. We have more than 100 dishes—almost all of which are traditional American fare—and are well-known for our big breakfasts and big entrees such as our Chicken-Fried Steak and Fat Boy cheeseburgers.
We are also very proud to share that we have enjoyed numerous awards over the years, including TULSA’S BEST DINER, TULSA’S BEST BREAKFAST, and TULSA’S BEST CINNAMON ROLLS.