I’m sure Miss Irene (of the namesake restaurant in Fells Point) is smiling right now. Her granddaughter, Emily Gleason, and boyfriend of two years, Andrew Reymer, have added their own chapter to the family’s long history at the Thames Street location.
But, first, a little background: Miss Irene and her husband Mr. Mike (as they were called by locals) Glyphis emigrated from Greece, landing first in Ohio and then Baltimore, living on The Alameda. Mr. Mike ran the downtown family bar, which was called The River Drive Inn. When he became too ill to work, Miss Irene, a no-nonsense, compassionate woman who spoke broken English, stepped in. The couple moved to an apartment on top of the bar (now a dining room), and the matriarch took over the operation. "It kept her going," Emily says. "She was an amazing woman."
Emily tells stories of her grandmother having Thanksgiving feasts in the bar for neighbors who had nowhere else to go and hosting her own birthday bashes on New Year’s Day. Emily now has the old bar jukebox in her home as a keepsake.
Mr. Mike died in the ’70s. Miss Irene passed in 1995. By that time, bar regulars had come to calling the place Miss Irene’s. The name was sealed when a storm in the ’90s ripped apart the River Drive sign and was replaced by one that said Miss Irene’s. When Emily’s uncle eventually sold the restaurant, the new owners asked the family if they could keep the name.
So Miss Irene’s lives on—this time transformed into a spiffy, upscale bistro instead of the rough-around-the-edges tavern it was. New memories are waiting to happen.
Flash forward to a few weeks ago. Emily, who spent much of her childhood and teen years at her grandparents’ apartment, was taking a sentimental tour of the new restaurant with Andrew. The couple had been running errands all day and had just come from Home Depot. Emily had no idea what Andrew had planned. But just before they were getting ready to leave, Andrew dropped to one knee and asked her to marry him. "He knew how much my grandparents meant to me," says Emily, touched by his thoughtfulness. And, oh, she said yes.
No wedding date is planned, perhaps next fall. But the couple is already thinking about using Miss Irene’s for their rehearsal dinner. Miss Irene and Mr. Mike will be watching, I’m sure.