I've been hit with a wave of nostalgia recently, so bear with me. William Beery died this week. He owned the venerable Burke's Cafe on Light Street.
I remember when I was a little kid, my Mom and I would go downtown just about every Saturday to shop at the big department stores - Hutzler's, Hecht's, Hoschild Kohn, & Stewart's. One of the highlights of our excursion was always lunch (and a trip to the toy department, natch). There used to be a sandwich shop on Howard Street between Fayette and Baltimore that we'd sometimes go to, but it closed in the early 70s. We then switched to eating at the basement lunchroom at Hutzler's. We liked the fancier upstairs lunchroom, but it was usually closed by the time we were ready to dine. And every rare once in a while, we'd hike to Burke's. I was probably 8 or 9 at the time, so it really was a hike for me.
We'd also hit Burke's if we were wandering around the harbor area, back when it was a waterfront with nothing but tugboats, McCormick belching out spices, and a seafood shack on Pier 5 called Connolly's. Now the area is completely unrecognizable. About the only thing downtown that's pretty much the same as it was when I was a kid is the McDonald's on Fayette and Howard. We went there too on rare occasion, for fries. But I digress.
I liked Burke's. It was dark in there and I liked sitting in the high-backed burgundy pleather booths across from Mom. For some reason, I seem to remember eating corned beef sandwiches there. (I also remember corned beef from the sandwich place on Howard that I mentioned above. I liked corned beef. A lot.) We'd get the onion rings too.
I think the last time I ate at Burke's I was going to a comedy show upstairs, and that had to be, oh, the early 90s? Has anyone been there more recently?