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Lee Street Deli opening soon under new ownership

A sign that reads "LSD Market."
Olivia Mizelle
This historic Lee Street Deli overlooks East Campus. Harvey and Millie Rathert owned the restaurant from the 1960s to the 1980s.

“East Campus Tradition since 1927.” 

This is what the sign outside of Lee Street Deli reads.

But for a few months, the nearly 100-year-old tradition almost came to an end. The beloved East Campus establishment — known colloquially as ‘LSD’ — closed its doors in July 2023, but Trinity Rainey and Katie Neely couldn’t see it go. They started renovating the space in February.

“We just want to show other women that they can do the same thing,” Rainey said. “So we try to post, like, time lapses of us building stuff and using power tools. I think women can do just about anything.”

Rainey said the two are very proud of being female business owners and of renovating the building on their own.

“I'm really proud to say that (LSD is) women built too,” Rainey said. “This is two women learning how to use tools and create a fun space for more women to come and hang out.”

The exterior of Lee Street Deli.
Olivia Mizelle
The newly renovated LSD finally reveals its exterior.

Beyond being partners in business, Rainey and Neely are also partners in life. The two are engaged and care for Neely’s 7-year-old child together. Their two other co-owners are Leanne Geiss and Josiah Williams, the owners of Eclipse Catering and Events, and the eateries Bite and AfterBite.

Rainey said once they met, the plans to reopen the restaurant bloomed quickly from there.

“I think a week later, we were all sitting down together at a table and kind of birthing up the idea of what we wanted to do with this space,” Rainey said. “And then it just continued to grow from there.”

The renovations have completely transformed the exterior of the restaurant, which is located on the bottom floor of an East Campus house, from bright red to black and white. Neely, who did all of the design, said she’s inspired by LSD’s location in an MU student neighborhood.

“Being over here in the campus area, I thought 'Why not black and gold?'” Neely said. “Most people that live over here have something to do with the college, so why not lean into that a little bit?”

Beyond the black-and-gold color scheme, Neely and Rainey have added an outdoor seating area, a grab-and-go food section, lots of quirky decor and a fountain soda machine.

Although they have made changes, they said they want to maintain the history that the building holds. Harvey and Millie Rathert owned the restaurant from the 1960s to the 1980s, and the new owners feel connected to the history they left there.

Benches sit outside LSD.
Olivia Mizelle
Along with the renovations inside the building, an outdoor seating area was added.

“We kept the sign that Millie had put out there,” Rainey said. “She had all these landscaping rocks, but they were buried deep. So bringing all of those to surface and cleaning them off and setting them up nice, I know Millie would probably really appreciate that.”

Along with keeping the building historically sound, the menu will be as well. Some LSD classics like “the juicy burger” will still be offered.

Neely and Rainey also hope to eventually host events and live music on the patio area.

The restaurant has changed ownership a few times throughout its 97 years. But every time it’s faced the threat of closing, it somehow finds new life.

And LSD will come back to life once more during its Grand Opening on April 27.

Olivia Mizelle is a student reporter at KBIA
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