Imagine leaving everything behind and taking a chance on a new adventure with no guarantees. That’s exactly what Tom Blake did when he packed his bags and headed to California with just an MBA and a desire for something new. Little did he know, a phone call from a friend would change his life forever. Without any experience, Tom took on the challenge of managing the first Victoria Station restaurant, leading him down a path of unexpected twists and turns, unforgettable experiences, and cherished friendships. Discover how Tom’s leap of faith into the restaurant industry led to a life full of adventures in this inspiring story of taking risks and pursuing your passion.
This episode is sponsored by:
Habana Cuba (Be sure to use code “Gary20” to save 20% off your order!)
In this episode:
- Embracing the new dating possibilities for seniors over 50 and the keys to making meaningful connections
- His journey through the impactful life, career, and legacy of the one and only Johnny Cash
- The rich history of the beloved Victoria Station restaurant and its lasting impression on diners
- Expert marketing tips to skyrocket your restaurant chain’s success and expand its loyal customer base
- The significance of socializing for seniors and its role in enhancing their quality of life
Timestamp of topics:
00:02:01 – From Airlines to Restaurants,
Tom shares how he transitioned from working in the airline industry to managing the Oakland Victoria Station restaurant. He also talks about the company’s growth and its decision to go public.
00:05:15 – Meeting John Denver and Johnny Cash,
Tom shares his encounter with John Denver and how he was mistaken for him by concertgoers. He also talks about his relationship with Johnny Cash and how he became the company spokesperson for Victoria Station.
00:08:29 – Why Did Victoria Station Work?
Tom explains why Victoria Station was successful, citing the need for quality prime rib and steaks. He also talks about the challenges the company faced during its expansion phase and the importance of paying attention to successful units.
00:11:22 – The Wiseman Trophy,
Tom shares the story behind the creation of the Wiseman Trophy, an award given to college football players by Victoria Station. He also talks about some of the notable winners of the award.
00:16:21 – The End of Victoria Station,
Victoria Station no longer exists as a standalone restaurant chain. There might be a spin-off chain in Japan, and a new restaurant being built in Virginia has artifacts from the original Victoria Station. Lifetime credit cards were given to notable figures, and the Wiseman awards were only given to eight people.
00:22:06 – Meeting Johnny Cash,
Tom Blake describes Johnny Cash as a kind and gentle individual. He tells a story of Johnny singing Puff the Magic Dragon to an 80-year-old woman on her birthday. Tom also talks about his experiences with June Carter Cash and how she was a pistol.
00:25:04 – The Highway Men,
Gary Scott Thomas and Tom Blake discuss The Highway Men and how they protected Johnny Cash from having to talk and laugh too much. They also touch on the relationship between Roseanne Cash and June Carter Cash.
00:28:51 – Johnny’s Gratitude,
Tom Blake shares a touching story of Johnny Cash inviting him and Bob Freeman to a concert at San Quentin Prison. Johnny expressed gratitude to Tom and always seemed to look out for those around him. Tom also shares a story about the inspiration behind Johnny’s song “One Piece at a Time.”
00:31:43 – June Carter Cash,
Tom Blake talks about the complexity of June Carter Cash’s relationships and how he had to be diplomatic about it. He found her to be a fascinating and remarkable woman.
00:34:02 – Roseanne and June,
Tom Blake talks about Roseanne Barr’s opinions on politics and how he cannot speak for her. He also mentions that the original mother cannot be replaced, but history has fondly looked back on Vivian, Johnny Cash’s first wife.
00:36:17 – Dating After 50,
Tom Blake talks about his column on dating after 50 and how the stories take on a whole new message as people age. He discusses the availability issue and how many seniors are looking for part-time relationships.
00:39:42 – Widowhood and Dating,
Tom Blake talks about the pain of widowhood and how it is a different thing altogether. He explains how dating at 75 and 80 is becoming more common for seniors, and many are looking for a lap (living apart together) relationship.
00:41:05 – The Bull Crap Barometer and Persnickety Daters,
Tom Blake talks about how the whole bull crap barometer goes way down as people get older and how dating at different ages has different challenges. He also mentions that seniors can get persnickety and peculiar with what they want.
00:45:38 – Finding Love After 50,
Tom Blake talks about his website, findingloveafter50.com, and his newsletter on dating after 50. He explains that it is free to sign up, and there is no advertising except for him talking about being on the podcast with Gary.
Tom Blake is one of the most knowledgeable people in America on the topic of finding love after 50. Since July 4, 1994, when his first Finding Love After 50 newspaper column was published, he has written more than 3,800 columns and newsletters. Mature singles in their 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and even 90s are Tom’s audience.
For 16 years, Tom was a columnist for The Orange County Register in Southern California. In 2011, Tom began writing his On Life and Love After 50 column for Picket Fence Media, an Orange County, California, syndicate. His articles appear bi-weekly in the Dana Point Times, San Clemente Times, and The Capistrano Dispatch (San Juan Capistrano) newspapers.
In February 2016, Tom’s “On Life and Love after 50” article was added to a syndicate of six (Chester, York, Dauphin, Lebanon, Cumberland, Lancaster) newspapers in Pennsylvania called “50 plus Life (www.50plusLifePA.com). His articles run bi-monthly in those publications.
He is the author of four printed books and several Ebooks. See his bookstore on this website. Tom was interviewed by Jack Ford and Matt Lauer on NBC’s Today Show as an expert on finding love after 50. He has written on every romance-after-50 topic imaginable, always with new information and a fresh perspective from the man’s point of view. To see Tom’s Today Show videos, click here.
Tom’s first book is titled, “Middle Aged and Dating Again.” His friend, country music singing legend Johnny Cash, endorsed the book by stating: “In the 20 years I have known Tom Blake, he has become an authority on dating and relationships.”
Tom’s second book is titled, “Finding Love After 50: How To Begin. Where To Go. What To Do.” John Gray, Ph.D., author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus,” stated, “A unique relationship book that addresses an important and growing niche of singles—those aged 50 and above. Easy to read and informative. Tom Blake is an expert on dating after 50.”
Tom also appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America, live in the NYC studio, interviewed by Diane Sawyer. The topic was finding love after 50, with a focus on Internet dating for singles 50, 60, 70, and beyond. Tom has been a speaker and panelist at multiple national AARP conventions. To see Tom’s Good Morning America interview, click here.
He is a native of Jackson, Michigan, and has a BA degree from DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana, and an MBA degree from The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
You can find Tom at: