Finding the American Dream | Del Mar Times | By Montserrat Puigdomenech
Written in 1997
As the owner of the beachfront Poseidon Restaurant and the adjacent Del Mar Motel, Tom Ranglas, has seen his dream come true. As a Greek immigrant who did not speak English, Ranglas symbolizes the American dream: With hard work and dedication, a person can achieve anything.
Ranglas was living with his mother in El Cajon and was looking for a coffee shop to buy there but thought everything was too expensive. “One day, in 1968, a real estate agent told me to get into his car, and he would take me somewhere. We arrived in Del Mar, and I saw the restaurant on the beach called The Fire Pit,” Ranglas said. The owners wanted $48,500.00 just for the business, not the property. It was a lot of money for young Ranglas, but he thought the place was beautiful. So, he borrowed money from his mother and then had to pay the rest over the next five years.
A year after he bought the restaurant business, Ranglas also bought the Del Mar Motel because the properties, and the motel business, came as a package deal. “It was all or nothing, but it turned out to be a bargain,” Ranglas said. The owners, the Greenbachs of San Jose, offered him both properties for $300,000.00. “I laughed at the number because to me it was incredibly large,” he said. Ranglas also jokes that, with his limited knowledge of English, he did not even know how to write a number so big.
Though he originally declined the offer, he discovered the value of other properties in Del Mar and accepted the Greenbachs’ offer. The Greenbachs were giving the property to him at such a low price because they trusted him.
Ranglas likes to think of his good fortune in another way, however. During W.W. II, when he was still in Greece, a young girl asked him if she could have the cross he wore around his neck because that would save her life. She had a Star of David and wanted to wear the cross instead, so the Germans wouldn’t think she was Jewish. Ranglas was supposed to pass his cross down to his children in the future, but he felt for this little girl and gave her the cross. Now, he feels that somehow his kindness to that girl came back to him.
Ranglas’s daughter, 27 year old Nikki, and son, 28 year old Tom Jr., followed in their father’s steps. Both of them have been working at the Poseidon and the Del Mar Motel since they were in college, but 72 year old Tom Ranglas still supervises everything. Every day he goes to the restaurant and reads the newspaper, sitting outside at a table under an awning next to the parking. Those who know him say he is a very special person, a person who came from the war and saw his American dream come true in Del Mar.
Update: January 2018
Over the past few years, Tom Ranglas, Sr., has ceded control and ownership of the restaurant operations to his children, who have continued to fulfill the dreams of their father. Tom Ranglas, Sr., still visits the restaurant on a twice-daily basis and is a familiar and friendly face to many of our long-time customers.