CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Blossom Deli usually empties out by about 1 p.m. as the lunch crowd melts away, absorbed back into cubicles and offices across downtown Charleston.
But in response to the news that Bill Sohovich's showcase restaurant in a landmark Charleston setting at 904 Quarrier St., was closing on Saturday, the place was still packed at 2 p.m. on Wednesday.
Rachelle Beckner, who works a couple blocks away at the Kanawha County Library, stopped by for lunch about 1 p.m., and couldn't get in because of the crush. She returned at 2 p.m., her radar locked onto a Blossom chocolate milkshake.
"The really tragic thing about this is Blossom is one of the gems of downtown Charleston," said Beckner, who planned on returning for lunch today to order the Blossom stir fry. "It's one of the most attractive things about downtown Charleston."
Like many in the lunch crowd, Beckner could not understand why the Blossom was closing, given how its lunch counters, tables and booths were always packed by high noon each work day.
Sohovich, who manned an order station nearby, had a ready answer as he shouted out customer orders and handed staffers lunch plates ready to be distributed around the busy room.
"I just don't have the dinner business that I need," he said, eyeing a raft of orders splayed out on a counter. "It won't survive on lunch. Lunch is very good, but it won't survive on lunch.
"I am saddened that I have been here 17 years and I have to leave," said the chef, who also runs the equally popular Soho's restaurant at Capitol Market, with its predominantly Italian menu.