For 60 years, Souris' Saloon has been a Towson landmark. And for nearly 58 of those years, its founder, Chris Souris, and members of his family ran the business.
It's been about two years since members of the Souris family decided to sell to a group who gave the place a face-lift, and business is booming. The new owners include Pat and Jim Koliha -- he was in charge of the renovations and is the keeper of the books, while Pat and their daughter Mary Beth Protzman supply the restaurant with homemade desserts and find the time to run M. B.'s Creative Catering. The Kolihas' other daughter, Kathy Farrell, is the restaurant's working manager, and her husband, Kevin, is the kitchen manager. The other owners are Bob Stewart, his son, Scott, and Sean Gahagan, all of whom attended their big anniversary bash last Sunday.
I was invited to the party by Hall of Fame sports announcer Chuck Thompson, who called from Florida to say he was coming to town for the Rex Barney roast and for the Souris' party on Sunday. When I arrived, Chuck and his wife, Betty, were chatting with Joan and Gordon Beard about the good times they shared on the recent Orioles Caribbean cruise. Over the next year, Chuck and Gordon expect to share lots of good times as they work on a book about Chuck Thompson's life. Immediately after spring training they will begin work, and Bob Brown, who in his 35 years with the Baltimore Orioles served as public relations director, publications director and at one time traveling secretary to the organization, has agreed to help. Thompson has so many wonderful stories to tell that the book should be a real winner.
Others at the party included Tini McLernon, Dr. and Mrs. Constantine Sakles, Molli Souris, Bud George, Erin McLernon, and Kelli and Patrick Defries and their 3-year-old, Mac, all of whom are related to the Souris family.
And then there was the Gahagan clan -- Sean, Mike and Christa, Dan and Bonnie and their sister, Maureen Kristofco, the sign-language interpreter on the WJZ-TV morning show with Don Scott. It was also good to see Tommy McClelland, who will be tending bar and working in the kitchen, and M. A. Bonner, who was doing a great job serving drinks in a packed room.
In case you're wondering, the menu at Souris' Saloon includes a delicious assortment of "lite"-fare foods, appetizers, soups, sandwiches, salads, shrimp, steak and chicken. Food is served seven days a week from 11 a.m. to midnight, including a Sunday brunch.
"Othello," Shakespeare's timeless tale of jealousy and betrayal, opened at Center Stage Friday evening and will run through March 20. You'll probably hear lots about Peter Francis James, who has the title role. He's a Shakespeare veteran whose previous roles include Horatio in Kevin Kline's "Hamlet." Plus he's a founding director of the Shakespeare Chamber Theater of New York and also played Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in the PBS special, "Simple Justice."
And there seem to be many talented people working on this production. But the part of the press release that caught my eye was the bottom, where it said Jim Chance, James Colby and Josh Mosby round out the ensemble. Jim Chance in "Othello"! Could that be the same Jim Chance who once worked at the Maryland Public Service Commission before heading to the Eastern Shore to practice law? What a small world. He practiced law for five years and was the deputy county attorney in Talbot County before leaving to get a master of fine arts in acting from Catholic University, which he received in 1990. Since then he's performed in San Francisco, Edinburgh and Philadelphia. This is his first appearance at Center Stage.
Speaking of being onstage: The Baltimore Opera Company's general manager Michael Harrison has signed Ryan Merritt, the son of Baltimore tenor Chris Merritt, for his professional opera debut. Ryan will be one of the apparitions who materialize before Macbeth, whose role will be sung by Baltimore native, opera star James Morris. Although the show doesn't open until March 12, 80 percent of the tickets for the four performances have been sold!
While we were suffering through horrid weather, Brian Boston was soaking up sun in Mexico. But, from what I hear, he'll need the rest. Brian recently left his job as the chef at Pier 500 and will be opening Boston's Restaurant and Bar, 210-214 Back River Neck Road, in Essex. He's remodeling the place, which once housed Diehl's Seafood, and he's hoping to open March 1.
I am told that Bausch & Lomb is one of the seven worldwide sponsors of the 1994 Winter Olympics and that's why they will operate a vision center in the Olympic Village. The company has invited leading eye care professionals from all over the world to be on their screening team, and Dr. Barry Fuller, founder of Havre de Grace-based Vision Associates, is one of them.