The Roanoker - September/October 2014 - 102
Above right: Aesy's came
PAUL'S RESTAURANT, 1948
on the dining scene in
Linda Pharis, Blue Ridge Land Conservancy:
"Paul's is a downtown lunch tradition for the folks
who work at the Blue Ridge Land Conservancy because
it's quick and delicious and inexpensive; and the ladies
working there are so dang sweet. I took my native born
husband there for the first time - how did he miss
this place in 60 years of living in Roanoke? - and he
was sold. Paul's has a small but loyal fan base. Killer
My Take: Newspaper guy Chris Gladden and I once
wrote a massive, 37-restaurant review of lunch-time
spots downtown when we were at the local daily paper's features department. I wrote that Paul's charged 65
cents for a carton of milk and was so taken aback by the
price (in 1979) that I couldn't taste the meal. The owner
has never forgiven me. I eat there occasionally - sneaking in disguised - because it's good blue-plate stuff.
THE NEW YORKER DELI, 1957
Arnette Crocker Tressel, commercial radio, TV voice,
"At age 16, I spent a couple of weeks visiting with
family in Roanoke. As downtown business owners, it
was common place for them to eat out every night of
the week. When the New Yorker was suggested, I imagined white table clothes and bow-tied servers, seafood
and sizzling steaks.
"When we arrived at the New Yorker's old location
on the corner of 10th and Williamson, I experienced
my first delicatessen. A warm greeting by a large darkhaired man wearing a huge apron told me I was in for
something entirely different. I ordered the New Yorker
sub, heavy with premium fried bologna, piles of dripping slaw, and paper thin sliced white onions, (banana
peppers optional) and the kosher pickle spear. It was
enough for three people but I, weighing little more than
100 pounds, ate the whole thing.
102 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2014
"Now 50 years later, it is still my favorite meal; a
meal that is as luscious and elegant as any five-star
restaurant on the planet. The sub is still the same but
I can no longer eat the whole thing.
"The man in the apron is gone now, but I recognize
him in the portrait near the front door. It is nice when
things remain this consistent, don't you think?"
Kara Dickerson Smith, Roanoke native, mother:
"I remember going to the New Yorker with my parents and brother when I was really young. We always
got a cheese plate (still available and still delicious), firecracker (kids hot dog meal came with ice cream, also still
available) and Mom and Dad split a huge sub. Usually
went after church on Sunday. The place hasn't changed."
AESY'S CONFECTIONARY, 1958
Linda Williams Kelly, CPA Carilion Clinic:
"I used to work with [owner] Josephine Thomas's
daughter and she had an Aesy's calendar hung by her
desk that read: 'The owner is mean, the premises are
clean, you'll have to wait but the food is great.' Pretty
much sums it up. I might have the first two out of order
but you get the idea."
Roni Sutton, registrar Community High School:
"Back when Community High School was located
in the Jefferson Center, I ate at Aesy's regularly. The
food was wonderful and the ambiance perfect for an
old-timey 'greasy spoon.' They have killer cheeseburgers and wonderful fries."
Gail Wemmer Nordhaus, registered nurse:
"I'll never forget my first visit and being served what
must have been the largest bologna sandwich in the
My Take: Some years ago, Aesy's was the preferred
eating spot of the reporters of Roanoke's daily. Legendary columnist Mike Ives once wrote a piece titled