You Say Tomato is ripe for changes 

There's a bushel full of changes taking place at You Say Tomato, the popular coffee shop, bruncheonette and neighborhood hangout at 2801 Holmes. One of the three founding partners, Michael Pouncil, is moving to Portland, Oregon, though he's apparently keeping an interest in the two-year-old restaurant.

"We're going to miss the hell out of him," says Mark Wingard, who started You Say Tomato with his partner, Randy Parks, and Pouncil. They opened the place with little more than a great idea, a small sum of cash and a lot of physical labor. It wasn't easy turning the Depression-era Weneck Brothers grocery store into a fun, funky restaurant serving good coffee, excellent pastries, imaginative sandwiches and soups — and bierocks!

Not everyone loves those savory Eastern European meat pastries filled with seasoned ground beef, cheese and shredded cabbage — count me among the nonbelievers — but they've been wildly popular at You Say Tomato.

The other big change: the venue's hours. Since they opened, Wingard, Parks and Pouncil have served food from morning until 7 p.m. through the week and closed early on the busy weekends.

"We tried serving dinner for two years and waited for business to pick up, but it just wasn't happening," Wingard says. Now the restaurant will close at 3 p.m. "And since our weekend brunch crowd is the busiest, we're opening an hour earlier on Saturday and Sunday," Wingard says.

Beginning on September 15, You Say Tomato's new hours will be 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.

"The biggest surprise of the last two years is that I'm still standing," Wingard says. "I had no idea what incredibly long hours we would have to work to put product on our counters. On the other hand, I'm thrilled that so many of my customers like my cooking. I didn't go to culinary school, you know. I was taught to cook by my mother and grandmother. I used to have anxiety attacks about customers liking my baked goods."

As a very big fan of Wingard's cakes, rolls and cookies, I can assure him that he has nothing to worry about.

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