Domna C. Economides, 85, operated deli

March 22, 1997|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Domna Christie Economides was renowned for the tuna salad sandwiches, homemade milkshakes, sundaes, hamburgers and hot dogs that she served to generations of hungry City College and Eastern High School students at her Northeast Baltimore delicatessen.

Mrs. Economides, who was 85, died Feb. 19 of Alzheimer's disease at her home in Palm Harbor, Fla., where she had lived since 1985.

She and her husband, Steve Christie, whom she married in 1927, came to Baltimore that year from Greece and opened Christie's Delicatessen at Gorsuch Avenue and Loch Raven Boulevard.

The couple ran the business together until his death in 1943. Mrs. Economides continued the business with the help of her three daughters.

Built into the corner of a building, the deli was a favorite of nearby City and Eastern students who made it their lunchtime and after-school hangout.

"It was a typical soda fountain deli with booths, a counter, juke box and pinball machine," said a daughter, Helen C. Xintas of Lutherville.

"At lunchtime they jammed the place, and the overwhelming favorite was Mom's tuna salad sandwiches. Years later, people are still coming up to me talking about those sandwiches," she said.

Mrs. Economides affectionately called her City students "my boys." They called her "Mama Christie." The teen-agers who jammed the deli after school never fazed her.

"If someone looked at me or one of my sisters, she'd say in her broken English, 'You canna look, but you noa canna touch,' " said Mrs. Xintas. "She never hollered at them. Just admonished them a little."

Mrs. Economides' days were long, often beginning at 8 a.m. and ending after 1 a.m. After the high-spirited youths left for the day, the vacant booths were filled in the evenings by Waverly residents who came in and sat after supper, often swapping gossip over a cold National Bohemian.

A generous and understanding woman, Mrs. Economides had a novel way of dispensing charity.

"If a needy person asked for some food, she'd ask him to sweep the floor. She used to say, 'If he's hungry enough, then he'll sweep the floor.' If the person took the broom, then she'd take it right back and ask him to sit down and then she'd bring him some food," said the daughter.

After a road-widening project in the late 1950s took the old deli, she reopened across the street. She closed the store in the early 1960s.

So devoted was she to the store that when Mrs. Xintas was planning her wedding, Mrs. Economides asked that she be married on a Sunday when the Colts were out of town so the deli could be open to feed hungry fans going to and coming from nearby Memorial Stadium on home game days.

"She wasn't about to miss making money on a Colts Sunday," Mrs. Xintas said with a laugh.

Mrs. Economides sent money to her family in Greece, but it wasn't until 38 years after leaving that she saw her family again.

The former Domna Bizimkis was raised in Greece.

She was active in the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, the Philoptochos Society, Daughters of Penelope and the Kytherian Society.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. March 30 at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, 2504 Cub Hill Road, Towson.

She is survived by her husband of 40 years, Tim Economides of Palm Harbor; two other daughters, Mary Karayinopulos of Cockeysville and Catherine Clautice of Atlanta; seven grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.

Pub Date: 3/22/97

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