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Feels like family

My Third Place is a local tavern where everybody knows your name. It’s called The Deli. Eleven years ago, Jim Fletcher hired Sue Lyons, with Rosemary Southard (a.k.a. Rosebud) as her second to run his new place at 1111 Lee St. E. Before that, both ladies worked at The Firehouse on Washington Street East, and many regulars followed them when it closed.

At first, the Lee Street Deli and Lounge felt different, like a new pair of shoes, but it didn’t take long to wear it in. The atmosphere was retro enough for us old folks to feel comfortable, and the jukebox was the best in Charleston. After a few years, Sue left, the restaurant closed, and Rosebud took sole charge of the bar.

In 2004, the lounge was expanded, creating a bar that is four times larger in an open “Cheers”-like square. Like an old-fashioned Irish Pub, there are toasts, tales and singalongs. There’s karaoke on Saturday nights with songs for all ages and occasions. We celebrate birthdays and holidays with food and decorations.

The Deli is the favorite hangout for people of all ages and backgrounds. Anyone who wanders in joins our family. The oldest regular is 85 (“The Queen of the Deli,”) and the youngest is 20-something. It is unique.

Where else do folks call in if they aren’t coming on their regular night or time and also call to say they’ve arrived home safely? Folks call out your name when you arrive and say, “Be careful” and “I love you” when you leave, with hugs and kisses all around.

We help each other out and contribute money for various folks and causes. It may be our Third Place, but to us it’s First Rate!

Nancy Wiblin wrote this letter for the Gazette’s Third Places series. She organizes the Deli’s karaoke sessions.


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