Letter: A fond farewell to Leo’s

To the Editor,

One of our community’s local gathering spot’s final day of offering us fine food and drink was March 20, 2021.

Marie and Leo Kiernan’s kitchen and dining room have been a staple in our lives for many years. For me personally, I am thankful for the many things beyond food that Leo’s Deli brought to my life. But first, the food.

My favorites were the Spanish Omelet, hash browns and rye toast for breakfast. And of course, tea. My lunch standby was the Reuben and a side of macaroni salad. But I also never surprised Marie when I chose the specials. My son stuck with the Tuna Melt with bacon, my friend Vin always had the roast beef dip, Ted, the blue plate special and my grandson Norrin had plain ham and cheese on white and a blue juice.

More special than the food was that Marie knew all this. She also knew that I never finished my breakfast. First, she tried to get me to order a smaller omelet. Realizing what I really wanted was another breakfast, I always received a to-go container when my meal was served. She chided me for not eating my crusts with a side of Marie’s classic eye roll. She knew that my grandson never finished his sandwich until he was eight and therefore gave him only a half of a sandwich. My grandson thought it was the greatest thing in the world that he could walk in a restaurant, be greeted like family and not have to order because she knew what he wanted. Sometimes he would casually say, “I’ll have my usual.” I think it made him feel pretty special. He’s in Westfield with us on Thursday and Fridays. He insisted we get Leo’s both days the last week they were open, one of many loyal customers.

I am also grateful that purchasing gift cards to Leo’s was alway a great and convenient gift giving option. I came into Leo’s with my girlfriends Lisa, Kathryn and Cubby mostly for Saturday morning breakfast. I believe I was first introduced to Marie by them. We spent many meals catching up with each other and me enjoying the best omelet ever. One of the wonderful happenings on Saturday mornings was watching and listening to the expanding table in the middle of the restaurant. A large group of friends and family congregated around many tables pushed together. People ate, left and more joined in. Even if you weren’t part of the table, you felt like you were part of something. Lively conversation and laughter filled the room. James & Bob always seemed to be there with James taking on the role of the unofficial and very friendly greeter. I also came in frequently with my friend Vin and sometime my youngest son, Tommy. Other times I was with my illegal mother-in-law Kay and her son Ted. If I came without Vin, she would often know where he was and who he was having lunch with or report when he was last in.

It took Marie but a short while to put the pieces together and figure who was who and how we were connected. I could always count on running into my dear friend Sue and her husband Mike along with many other locals. Along with making my grandson feel special, she made me feel pretty special, remembering my idiosyncrasies and caring about my family/friend circle. I am but one of hundreds that share these feelings or have similar stories with different names and different favorite foods. Leo’s Deli, Marie & Leo and their food will be greatly missed. I am grateful for the sense of community shared in their establishment. I am sure I can speak for others as I wish them a healthy and happy retirement. Mostly, I hope they get to sleep late.

“Be glad there was one place in Westfield where everybody knew your name and they were always glad you came.”

Juanita A. Carnes


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