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Out of the Office Fire and Into the Omelet Pan


"I hated my job."

That's how Tom Thomas, owner of Long Beach's Omelette Inn, explains why he got into the restaurant business. Seven years ago, when his employer, AT&T, offered workers the opportunity to "take the package," Thomas was out the door of the company's bill collection department like Carl Lewis.

Weekend breakfasts were one of his favorite activities, so he decided to combine business with pleasure. In 1988, he bought the Omelette Inn.

The restaurant is certainly easy to spot. Just look on the sidewalk for the three-foot-tall wooden egg with glasses--it holds a chalkboard that lists the special of the day.

The Omelette Inn is an airy, 70-seat place with a row of booths and tables draped with dark, flowered tablecloths. The walls are decorated by the works of local artists (Thomas is always eagerly looking for new art to exhibit, so if you're blessed with a touch of Rembrandt, drop by).

The omelets are made with three eggs and served with home fries and freshly baked muffins. One of the most popular is the Carnaval ($5.50), first offered five years ago to honor the Long Beach Carnaval. It's filled with Louisiana sausage, chicken and bay shrimp sauteed with bell pepper, onions, Cajun spices and topped with Cheddar cheese. The Florentine ($5.25) has fresh spinach, bacon and Swiss cheese and is topped with olives, green onions and sour cream.

Super spuds ($4.95) are potatoes, eggs, bell pepper, green onions, Cheddar cheese and sausage or vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, for instance)--all mixed together into one tasty mess.

Among the sandwiches is a chicken salad ($4.95)--chopped chicken breast blended with walnuts, mandarin oranges and mayonnaise served on whole-grain or sourdough bread.

Thomas, a vegetarian, offers several meatless items, most notably the garden burger ($4.95), a patty of mushrooms, onions, rolled oats, brown rice, low-fat mozzarella, nonfat cottage cheese, egg whites, Cheddar cheese and bulgur wheat.

Omelette Inn is at 108 W. 3rd Street, Long Beach. (310) 437-5625. Open Monday through Sunday 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

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