"I'm eating ham now instead of bologna," the customer quips.

"Pretty soon you'll be eating steaks!" Wayne counters.

During lulls, he sips black coffee from a Styrofoam cup and sneaks to the back room to pull from a half-smoked Tareyton cigarette at rest in a Camel ashtray. "Us Tareyton smokers would rather fight than switch!" went the slogan, popular in newspapers, magazines and television commercials during the '60s and '70s. He reminisces about the old neighborhood, before the closing of Cricket on the Hill next door in 2007 and Gabor's just across the alley in January, back when the dispensary on the corner of Marion was a head shop and Nicolo's was little more than a five-foot-long counter and standing room for a few — the days when neighboring slumlords offering weekly rentals and a pay phone on the corner meant prostitutes and their johns would come in for beers and the drug dealers for soda.

Wayne Adams has closed the register on Kelly's Superette.
Wayne Adams has closed the register on Kelly's Superette.

"Doctors, lawyers, ex-cons in ankle bracelets, prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers, tweakers — we've seen it all," he recalls. "This was the best show in town on a Saturday night. Colorful, so very colorful."

Before pouring all of their time and money into the Superette — throughout their run, Wayne and Eva kept one, maybe two other employees at a time; most familiar was Ron, an ex-con himself who started seven and a half years ago and has remained until the end — Wayne and Eva loved to dance: the jitterbug, swing, Mexican polka. They met in the early '90s at the now-shuttered Club 56 on North Washington. "It was a nice place to hang out and dance," Wayne remembers. He was there with a date; Eva was alone. Every time Wayne's date went to the bathroom, Eva came over to talk to him and ask him to dance. "She really wanted me," Wayne brags. That night, he left with his date, but a week later he returned without. They married after five years.

Now, sixteen years later, they might finally have the time to dance again. Before signing a new lease — maybe in Uptown? Definitely not on Colfax — Wayne says they'll probably take a few months off. Catch up on some movies. Ride their Schwinn cruiser bicycles together. "This place has really been our life," Wayne says. "It's the most fun job I've ever had. We've both really enjoyed it. And you know, we're not rich people. We're just working people. We just make a living, that's all."

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Thanks for a great story. Kelly's will be missed!