Even after 87 years, Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe has left Bostonians licking their fingers and hungry for more.
In June of 2014, when Charlie’s announced its closing, locals were heartbroken and distressed— but a regular customer with a deep affinity for the Charlie’s, Evan Deluty, saw an opportunity to bring back the jewel of the South End. Owner of another restaurant called Stella, Deluty quickly bought the Charlie’s and immediately saw to the renovation of its interior. Plumbing, electricals, and city certifications went underway in a year-long process.
“[We’re] very excited and honored to have reopened Charlie’s, and look forward to another 87 years,” Deluty said.
Nestled in the bustling streets of the South End, Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe had been an iconic establishment for over eight decades, serving hearty portions of its famous turkey hash alongside dozens of other delectable classics. Since 1927, Charlie’s has been open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. With only 32 seats and no bathrooms, the loyal customers present at the shop collectively described Charlie’s as “equal parts old-school diner and neighborhood coffee shop.” In many ways, Charlie’s has become successful in not only cultivating a buisness, but also a sense of family within the restaurant.
“I’m psyched,” Deluty said in an interview with Boston.com. “It’s been a complete rehab, the building was gutted to the bricks, but we tried to maintain the integrity and wonderful charm that Charlie’s had.”
Inside, the walls are adorned with gleaming photos of past patrons, ranging from Duke Ellington to Sammy Davis Jr. to President Barack Obama. Countless athletes, politicians, and celebrities have perched on one of Charlie’s bright red barstools, mopping up grease from a famous seared burger or digging into a creamy tuna melt. With numerous awards culminating over the years, including a James Beard Award in 2005, it’s no wonder such a humble establishment has become legendary.
“I used to bring my kids in there so they could spin on the stools like I did when I was a kid,” Deluty said. “My kids go to school around the corner … I’m a South End guy, and have been going for years.”
Deluty tried to keep the place as original as possible, maintaining the overall layout inside of the establishment right down to the number of seats in the place. For him, it is all about keeping up the legacy of the previous owners, as Charlie’s is now as part of Boston as the T or the brownstones that align the streets of the city.
“The Deluty’s are very excited and honored to have reopened Charlie’s, and look forward to another 87 years,” Deluty said over the phone.
After months of hard work and back-breaking renovations, Deluty and his family were delighted to re-open Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe last month to a lined-up crowd awaiting breakfast. He has kept the breakfast menu intact and will begin serving lunch in future months. Crowds of hungry locals packed the restaurant on opening day, eager to return to the classics they remember.
Featured Image by Francine Almeida / Heights Staff