High and mighty pay respects to deli owner Levitt

January 25, 1995|By Ellen Gamerman | Ellen Gamerman,Sun Staff Writer

The man who served up thick sandwiches and good conversation was remembered yesterday by the people who filled his restaurant for decades and made him an Annapolis institution.

More than 600 people -- from politicians to boyhood friends -- gathered at a Baltimore funeral home to remember Charles A. "Chick" Levitt, owner of Chick & Ruth's Delly on Main Street. Mr. Levitt, who was 67, died of a heart attack over the weekend.

In a city where strip malls and shopping centers increasingly are the rule, Mr. Levitt was one reason Chick & Ruth's remained a local landmark. Seven days a week he could be found standing behind the cash register -- a great perch from which to identify regulars who walked through the front door.

Mr. Levitt gave preference to former governors and politicians, gabbing with them as he served up vanilla fudge milkshakes and foot-long chili dogs. Mr. Levitt named sandwiches in their honor, told them risque jokes and won their attention faster than any lobbyist.

TC "With him, you could be yourself," said Melvin Luterman, the cantor who led the memorial service at Sol Levinson and Bros. "This was probably the best test of a friend."

Yesterday, several of Mr. Levitt's high-powered friends and customers waited in a line that stretched out the door to get a seat at the funeral.

"He was a good man," said former Gov. William Donald Schaefer as he walked out of the funeral home by himself, no entourage in sight. "He was a good political man."

With Mr. Levitt behind the counter, politics were as much a part of eating at Chick & Ruth's as food.

Mr. Levitt and his wife, the former Ruth H. Cohen, opened Chick & Ruth's Delly in 1965. After her death in 1986, Mr. Levitt consoled himself by working seven days a week.

Mr. Levitt's son, Ted, works at the deli and will continue to run business.

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