As I walked toward the colorful and historic buildings along Meeting Street in downtown Charleston, SC, I noticed there was a line out the door and up the street waiting to get into Hyman’s Seafood and Aaron’s Deli. A white sign in the window read, Rated Best Seafood in the Southeast! I started taking pictures of the entire row of storefronts in the old wholesale district of Charleston.
After a little research I discovered that Aaron’s Deli and Hyman’s Seafood are owned by the same family, Eli and Aaron Hyman, and have been in the restaurant business since 1986. From 1890 to 1986 the family was in the wholesale dry goods business.
My particular focus for my painting Next Stop Aaron’s Deli is the Aaron’s Deli side of the business, along with the Charleston Visitor Information building on the left. The two storefronts with their signage, colorful historic architecture, and flags flying gave me the feeling I was in small town USA.
I am struck by how Charleston has managed to keep much of its historic integrity as its grown into one of America’s most popular cities. I love the fact that there are many old storefronts like this with boutique businesses, art galleries, and restaurants all thriving.
Having just finished the painting I thought it would be fun to walk inside the world I just painted! I parked just down the street and walked right up to the vantage point in my painting. Of course, I stopped at the stop sign and took it all in. It was another nice sunny day with the flags flying, but this time I was on the early side and there was no waiting line. Next stop, Aaron’s Deli! ☺
A lady greeted me at the door and asked me if I’d like to sit at the bar or at a table. I chose a table at which point she thought for a minute and then told me to tell the server at the top of the stairs Table 521.
The walls were all covered in pine, with photographs of celebrities, musicians, politicians, athletes and coaches, and other notables who have dined there.
The server showed me to my table and as I sat down I noticed a brass plaque stating that Dr. Ruth ate here! Earth Wind and Fire also ate at my table! ;-)
Since Hyman’s Seafood and Aaron’s Deli share the two buildings, one is free to order off of either menu. Since I painted Aaron’s Deli I decided to order from the deli menu. I like to test new delis by always ordering a Rueben as my first meal. I started with a cup of Gumbo, which was very good! Aaron’s Rueben (pastrami, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and thousand island dressing on fresh marble rye) was just what I had hoped for! A side of hushpuppies was complimentary on top of the hand cut fries I had ordered.
I left pleasantly stuffed and happy to know that when I look at my painting I can relate even more with the imagery. The exterior 1800’s architecture is now complimented by knowing that the restaurant is family owned and operated. The interior has its own retro charm. Their house rule #1 is the customer is always right. They donate over $200,000 a year to local and national charities.
The painting is realistic in the sense that most of the detail is painted as it is in reality. I used touches of Impressionism to soften the piece and make it more painterly. I had originally intended to make it an Impressionist piece, but then decided the details are what makes this image interesting.
I hope that Next Stop Aaron’s Deli reminds you of the many small towns across America and gives you a sense of nostalgia. Small town America is still alive in Charleston. It is a wonderful city to experience.
Thank you as always for your interest in my art and for reading my journal! Please check back soon to see what’s next on the easel.