Light House Bistro: A Gathering Spot with History
West Street is abuzz with excitement surrounding the opening of the Light House Bistro! This new cafe and eatery serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with a grab-n-go that includes coffee and the most heavenly pastries (the trio of beignets…OMG).
It is a gathering place with a mission everyone can get behind. The Light House, a Homeless Prevention Support Center, moved from their original site on West Street to a larger facility on Hudson Street, where the organization had room to expand their services to occupational training. One track offered is the culinary arts field, from which their renowned B.E.S.T. Catering services were born. Their catering quickly gained a reputation for their savory foods and attentive service, and so the idea of a Bistro formed. After years of work and a renovation at their original West Street location that started from the ground up, the Bistro opened its doors at the end of February to a warm, welcoming crowd.
Long before Light House called it home, the building’s history had always been rooted in bringing the community together. The Levy Family owned and operated Levy’s Grocery Store and Capitol Drugs in the early twentieth century, where you would find people of all walks of life sitting next to each other at the soda fountain.
“It brought all kinds of people together,” says Helene Sachs, whose grandmother Rebecca Levy started the grocery store in the 1930’s. Rebecca was a widow, and could be seen in the store seven days a week serving up the best quality food to support her family.
“She put three children through college,” says Sachs, who still resides in Annapolis today with her family. She is shown above as a child at the store.
You can also find Helene, her mother Sadie, and grandmother Rebecca on the side of the Bistro, depicted in a new piece of public art illustrated by Sally Wern Comport. The latest piece produced by ArtWalk, a 501-c3 public art initiative, pays tribute to the former store owners and other figures of Annapolis, past and present. The piece includes the President Hill street’s namesake, President & First Lady Madison, hometown hero and honorary Navy Admiral Marcellus Hall, local artists and musicians representing the surrounding Arts District, and the Bistro’s own skilled chefs.
Just behind the Bistro you’ll find another piece of public art: Jeff Huntington’s take on the same Founding Father, Madison, accompanied by Teddy Roosevelt and honest Abe – a mini-Mount Rushmore for Annapolis, so to speak. Jeff brought in a team of student artists, Jovenes Artistas, to collaborate with him and his wife Julia for their public art nonprofit, Future History Now.
In this cross-section of arts, history, and culture, the Light House Bistro is the perfect setting for Annapolis’s great personalities to coincide as they did all those years ago.
Photography courtesy of Maryland State Archives, Helene Sachs, and Lindsay Bolin. Illustration by Lindsay Bolin.