"When they opened, it was called SOB -- Shrimp and Oyster Bar. Mr. [Christopher] Plott owned it. They didn't make any money. I tried to tell them what to do, but they wouldn't listen.
"The Fifth Quarter offered me a job to be their kitchen manager. I worked there 12 years. I worked at Heart of Town for Julius George for about eight years. Lot of times, I was working two jobs.
"Me and Ray [Green] were down at Mulligan's. I was chef down there. The same man owned this place. It was called Daniel's. He went bankrupt. I was in the right place at the right time. I knew the general manager. I asked her if I could have it. I've been here 10 years.
"I borrowed the money and paid it back. I don't owe anybody. I praise God for it. He turned my whole life around. I became a Christian, and it seemed like everything just came to me. I belong to the First Baptist Church.
"I was raised in the church, but I got away from it. One day, I was lying in bed and I called my daughter and asked if she was going to church. She said she was. I said I was going with her. She said, 'You're what?' I went with her and kept going. It's been 10 years since I was baptized.
"I run specials here. On Thursdays, I have baked steak and gravy and mashed potatoes and green beans. I sell out before I even open the door. That's my best seller.
"I make a pot of chili every day in the winter. I'm famous for my chili. I just love to cook. I could cook seven days a week.
"We have happy hour 4 to 7 Monday through Thursday. On Friday, we let it run until 9. If nobody comes in, we close up. You ought to come for lunch. It's crowded.
"My best-selling soup is potato soup. And I make chicken and dumpling soup, vegetable soup, cheese and broccoli soup. I do it all.
"I don't open on weekends. If you open on weekends, you are looking for trouble. Look what happened on Capitol Street the other night. Those same people, I turn down.
"I get people from the Statehouse over there and people in this building and people at Saint Francis. We deliver from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. all the way up to Kanawha City and down to Patrick Street. Deliveries are 40 percent of our business.
"I don't advertise, but I have a good business. Everybody knows about me from word of mouth. At the Army Navy Club, I met about everybody in Charleston. Palumbo. Danny Jones. I was young then, about 21 or 22.
"I could write a book about what I've heard in this place and everything that went on in this building. It would be a bestseller. But no, a whole lot of my friends would be involved.
"I'm going to retire next Oct. 15. That's when my lease runs out. My employees will be taking it over. I'll stay on to guide them, maybe three days a week. But I wont be responsible for payroll and paying the rent.
"I wish I had gone in business for myself early. When I was working for everyone else, I should have been doing it for myself. When I decided to go into business, I was already 54 or 55. If I knew then what I know now, I'd be a millionaire.
"You get to a certain age, and you get tired. I come in here at 6 and get out about 4. That's too much for me, especially on this cement floor. I'll miss this place, but sooner or later, you got to hang it up. It's like a football player. You play as long as you can, then it's time to go.
"I got three daughters and seven grandchildren, all boys. I want to enjoy them. And I want to work around the church.
"I don't like being around a lot of people. I don't talk to people, just some who come in here. I joke with them, tell them hi, but as far as carrying on a conversation, no.
"Even when I was a kid, I played by myself. That way, you don't get in trouble and nobody knows your business.
"My friends I grew up with, they're mostly dead. But it ain't over for me yet. I figure I've got about 20 more years."
Reach Sandy Wells at san...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5173.