Convenience trumps comfort as the legendary downtown restaurant closes up and a Royal Farms store moves in
By Rafael Alvarez (North Baltimore Patch, 1/27/2011)
“I remember going there with my father … a darkened place where Dad could feel the comfort of the familiar … ” — William “Billy D” Driscoll, man of downtown
If a convenience store is a text message, then Burke’s Café—serving locals and tourists at the corner of Light and Lombard streets since 1934—was a handwritten letter. One with postscripts by generations of Baltimore newspaper reporters and an au jus stain smearing the page.
“Last time I was in Burke’s, I was picking up some baseball tickets from a sportswriter on the old News American, had to be around ’57 or ’58,” said Pete Genovese, a Highlandtown boy living in St. Louis. “Fellow named Frank Ptaszynski, they called him ‘Pinky,’ used to work the docks and got tickets from the reporters all the time. Sweetheart of a guy! Died way too young.”
And now Burke’s—which outlived the News American, Connelly’s, the McCormick spice factory and the days when working ships and the rough mugs who manned them put in at Pratt and Light Streets—has joined Pinky Ptaszynski on the other side of the Patapsco.
Said owner William Beery III—son of founder William A. Beery, Jr., who died in 2008: “It’s time to move on.”
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