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  • Writer's pictureSteven Keith

As a new downtown lounge rises, The Loopy Leaf folds

A hot new lounge has opened in downtown Charleston offering a hip new vibe, Prohibition-themed cocktails and décor, and … food!


Charcuterie board from The Volstead Room
Charcuterie board from The Volstead Room






The Volstead Room in the basement of Hale Street Center at 209 Dickinson St. is also open for lunch on weekdays and hosts weekly trivia, comedy and karaoke nights as well.


The Stool Pigeon (photo: Kim Rossi)
The Stool Pigeon (photo: Kim Rossi)

Karaoke is conducted through a state-of-the-art Orange Door Entertainment System, where song lyrics are displayed on TVs around the room so everyone can join in. You can even add your own song to the queue, change the song’s key or speed, even search the entire song database yourself.


The Volstead’s drink menu features a lineup of beers, seltzers and wines – including wine flights – plus offerings that include a variety of martinis, West Virginia “bootleg” drinks, and both pre- and post-Prohibition cocktails.


You can sip on an Almost Heaven with moonshine, peach schnapps, and cranberry and orange juices; an Appalachian ’Rita with JQ Dickinson salt; a Martinez with gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur and angostura bitters; plus classics like a Manhattan, Old Fashioned, Sidebar, Sazerac, French 75, Hemingway Daiquiri, a Mary Pickford and more.


As for food, there’s a gorgeous charcuterie board that serves up to four, plus smaller cheese plates with fruit; a unique hummus with pico de gallo, pita and warm naan; chicken eggrolls with housemade sesame-almond slaw and Asian vinaigrette; tots loaded with feta, bacon and pecans; plus mini crab cakes with remoulade, meatball sliders and cake donuts with dipping sauces.


An array of toasted sandwiches – great for the chilly winter days to come! – have clever Prohibition-themed names like the Stool Pigeon (shaved honey ham, whipped goat cheese, bacon habanero glaze and arugula); The Capone (Coppa ham, salami, pepperoni, fried mozzarella, banana peppers, pesto, lettuce and tomato); and The Gumshoe (tortilla-crusted tilapia, chipotle, lime, peppers and cheese with a side of pineapple slaw).


Brown sugar Old Fashioned and The Revenuer
Brown sugar Old Fashioned and The Revenuer

Other sandwiches feature the likes of shaved turkey with smoked gouda; ham, Swiss and apple-bacon-maple glaze on grilled naan; and grilled chicken with pimento cheese on ciabatta.


Although I haven’t visited the new place yet, I’ve heard great things about the food, drinks and overall vibe.


Sounds like a trifecta of fun to me.



  • IF YOU GO: The Volstead Room is in the basement of Hale Street Center at 209 Dickinson St. in Charleston. It is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday for lunch, and for drinks from 4 p.m. to midnight Wednesday, 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday-Friday and 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday. Food is also offered at night, but the kitchen usually closes around 10-11 p.m. based on crowds. For more information, check out their Facebook page.


The Loopy Leaf closing this month


And as one new place opens, another is about to close. So goes the restaurant circle of life, I guess, but I am not OK with this news.


In a long missive on Facebook, The Loopy Leaf chef/owner Sondra Zahn wrote: “In August of 2021, I arrived in Charleston, WV, and found what I thought would be my forever home. I had wide eyes, a freshly healed heart and an invincibility about me that was hard to understand and nearly impossible to explain.”


The Volstead Room (photo: Bernie Layne)
The Volstead Room (photo: Bernie Layne)

She had this idea, she said, that she could be someone who would elicit change here, make a difference, help the community and grow to be a part of it. So she found a space, opened the doors and her vegan restaurant flourished.


“For two years we have enjoyed to the core serving this community. We have ridden the train of ups and downs, we’ve had good days and we have had great days.”


But …


“Things change, things grow. Things ebb and things flow,” she wrote. “For a multitude of reasons, we are going to be closing our doors on Dec. 23, 2023, for the last time. We are forever grateful to all of you for loving and supporting us from day one. Without you, we know we wouldn’t have been able to experience these wonderful last two and a half years.”


For the rest of the month, The Loopy Leaf plans to be open Tuesday-Saturday but folks should check the restaurant’s Facebook page for updates.


Cake donuts and a martini from The Volstead
Cake donuts and a martini from The Volstead

“Saturdays are going to be fun,” she said. “We’re going to be opening at 9 a.m. with cakes and donuts and brunch items, so don’t miss those. Also, we need to empty our kegs, so all of our craft beer is just $5 a pint until it’s gone.”


I’m crying already.


Not only because this place and these people are so special – and their food is so outrageously good – but because I’m also now running out of days to have that amazing Spicy Katsu & Kimchi Ramen one last time!


• • •


Steven Keith is a food writer and restaurant critic known as “The Food Guy” who writes a weekly column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and has appeared in several state, regional and national culinary publications. Follow him online at www.wvfoodguy.com or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or at wvfoodguy@aol.com.

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