What started as a vegetable stand in 1982 morphed into a college staple. Since 1995, Sycamore Deli has been Blacksburg’s main source of live music from all over the country and cheap munchies of all shapes and flavors. On May 9, it was announced that Sycamore Deli will be closing its doors, and with it goes a sliver of Virginia Tech tradition. Along with businesses such as Top of the Stairs, it connected the current student population to those in decades past — a place frozen in time. Even though Blacksburg will be losing a piece of history, students can look fondly back on stories made, and the memories that will be missed.
Wednesday nights at Sycamore Deli were a haven for bachata aficionados and dancers with two left feet alike. Several students’ first memories are of Sycamore salsa nights, since it’s one of the only bars that has 18+ events. The dozens of sweaty bodies and upbeat music were a ceremonial passage into college life at Virginia Tech that will hopefully be continued elsewhere.
On a college budget, finding a good happy hour is the kryptonite to every student’s bank account. Most students typically start at Sharkey’s for Long Islands or Hokie House for pints, but Sycamore Deli was a forgotten happy hour hot spot for a cheap pregame. With $2 singles and $3 doubles, you could get reasonably wrecked every weekday day from 11 a.m to 9 p.m. Their wide selection of skantilly-named cocktails were sweet enough to hide any trace of alcohol, but strong enough to bring you back the next night.
One aspect that attracted people to Sycamore Deli was its unchanged, nostalgic and divey atmosphere that connected the students to the locals. You follow the smell of cigarette smoke and huddled chain smokers to what you thought was the entrance to John’s Cameras and Records. Once the hidden front entrance is discovered, you transcend the eerie staircase that is every drunk person’s nightmare, clutching the railing to prevent yourself from either slipping or getting knocked down by traffic. You watch random baseball games on the 12×12 TV that traveled from the year 1982 and marvel at the vast amounts of PBR paraphernalia on the menu-covered walls. It is a rawness that will feel absent in Blacksburg.
Sycamore Deli was one of the main suppliers of live music, showcasing up-and-coming bands and local artists. Even if you never heard a song from the band playing, there is something unique and spiritual about listening to someone play their heart out in a small, intimate setting. You felt connected to the strangers around you, milking the energy in the room. Most of the time, you walk out never listening that band’s music again. Regardless, what you experience there travels with you whenever you walk past the building.
$5.50 Everything Monday
Cheap eats that won’t leave you hungry is what every college student wants on their plate. Not only does Sycamore have a wide range of iconically-named sandwiches, like Mr. Krabs, Squidward and Shaggy, they offer great deals, a personal favorite being the $5.50 Everything on Mondays. Who wouldn’t want a Tugboat sandwich, filled with barbecue and mac and cheese, for under $6.
Losing Sycamore Deli’s presence downtown is like losing a tradition, a legacy, a home for many Blacksburgians. However, the loss creates an opportunity for a new tradition to be carried down, so that future students can understand the legacy and hopefully be a part of a new one.