Lee Lives!

The death of Lee Papageorge more than a year ago left a hole in the heart of downtown.

He’d closed Oscar’s — the deli he owned for more than 40 years — just a week earlier.

The end of Oscar’s meant more than the loss of a place with great pastrami and pickles. There was now no place on Main Street for a meal with friends — a spot where regulars always sat at the same table, and everyone (or at least the counter guys) knew your name.

Rye Ridge — the popular Stamford and Rye Brook kosher-style deli — signed a lease. It’s taken many months to renovate the site. But the good news is: They’re opening in a couple of weeks.

Rye Ridge renovations are nearly done.

The better news is: Some of Oscar’s old employees may be back.

And here’s the icing on the cake lox on the bagel: The owner of the new deli arranged with the Papageorge family to hang the iconic Oscar’s mural in the same spot it had been since 1982.

The Oscar’s mural — back at Rye Ridge Deli. (Photos/David Waldman)

Many regulars depicted on the wall are gone. So of course is Lee — the guy with the beard and red apron, all the way on the left.

Now he’s back, standing proudly with his friends and customers.

Rye Ridge’s reverence for the past is important. Here’s wishing them a run as long and successful as Oscar’s — and Lee’s.

19 responses to “Lee Lives!

  1. Missy Targowski

    That’s wonderful!!!!

  2. Dave Feliciano

    All we need is the barber chair, where he held court. “because I wanted to”. Whimsy is good.

  3. My mouth is watering. Very grateful for this news.

  4. What a lovely thing to do for Westport ! Lee on the mural but always in our hearts. Thank you.

  5. John Terpening

    Do you believe in magic? This morning I had breakfast with Keith Dobran at the Redding Market. When I walked up to him at the coffee counter the first words out of my mouth were, “looks like Oscar’s”. Keith acknowledged. We ordered breakfast and when we were almost done in walked Bob Heller (seventh from left, next to Swan). Small world. The three of us were regulars at Oscar’s for many years. What are the odds of this article being published a few hours later?

    I will tell the guys!

    This could possibly be the best thing that has happened in down town Westport in many years. I am sure Lee is a happy man knowing that the “environment” that he created will be back in business once again. Oh, and the food ain’t bad either.

  6. Celeste Champagne

    This is the best news of the week! (We are all desperate for good news:-) Can’t wait for the reopening.

  7. Wow. Awesome!

  8. Gay Luster Sawabini

    That is great. Loved my liverwurst and onion sandwich on rye w mustard at Oscars. Hope that they have those big cookies that had a kind of butter crunch in them. Oh and Creme Soda too ?
    Is it too much to ask for the Barber Chair ?

    Yes Dan, this is my real name. What can I say ?

  9. Nice to see a piece of “old” Westport surviving.

  10. Mary Papageorge

    It looks awesome, can’t wait for the opening. Lee would be so proud! Sorry no barber chair, my daughter has that in her living room!

  11. Ali Papageorge

    My dad would be so proud… I feel like a piece of him will be there everyday! It’s very bittersweet for me to go to the new deli.. knowing my last memory of my dad at Oscars I had to walk him out through the front door to my car.. all his employees ( family) not knowing at that moment it was going to be the last time they would ever see him. He’s there.. I know he will be… watching over his “people”.. the people he loved.

    • Ali – your Dad would be so proud of what these guys are doing and I absolutely LOVE that the mural will still be there! My family (the Grushkins) loved your Dad and the whole family <3

  12. Such great news!

  13. Audrey Doniger

    Finally good news!…I ate at the Rye Ridge deli many times when they were on Blackrock Tpk.and the food was terrific…good luck to all involved and am so happy for Lees family …

  14. Ruth Weinroth

    My only comment, other than to wish Rye Ridge many successful years in their newest location, is to point out that Rye Ridge is a “kosher style” deli. It is by no means, KOSHER. They do serve some kosher products, but they also serve “milk & meat” together, so clearly, not kosher. This difference may not matter to most people, but for some, it’s an important distinction.

  15. Kendall Gardiner


  16. Juliana Fulbright

    I am so glad the old mural will be put up!!! I knew most of the people in the painting, Swany
    and Ralph Sorghy and Bobby Heller and Drew and Bobby ,Judith and of course , Lee short for Elia, My nephews name..I only found out after he died!! From, Juliana Sloane Fulbright

  17. Bart Shuldman

    Fantastic!! Get there early, this place is going to be packed!!!

  18. Patty Graves

    Some of those regulars in that mural are still around, Tulio Ferri and Bob Heller to name two..they could find the rest.