October 2020 Ruminations & Ronnifications

Let me recount the ways I have brought customers along for the ride and made them feel very much a part of Ben’s and the Ben’s Family. By giving tours in the store I was working and by corresponding with those who have written commentaries on the food and service, I was able to make people feel invested in Ben’s. And if there was a negative critique, I used empathy and sympathy when listening to the patron as well as using a bit of humor and generosity in my response.

An example:
I had a man say that Ben’s would never last, and all his neighbors said Ben’s was no good (I suspect pricing was too high.) Upon hearing that I sprang into action. Mr. Marx: I would love to give you a tour of the belly of the beast (the store and its bowels) and you can also watch the food being prepared since we make 95% of our menu in house. A week later he told me about telling his neighbors that they could eat off the floors, and he couldn’t believe how much food was made from scratch. I converted almost a whole housing development of naysayers.

People don’t forget.

Another example:
Mr. Orenstein calls me up and says he won’t get back to Baldwin from work in time to buy one dozen bagels he needed for the morning. I said no worry, I’ll go next door to the Bagel Emporium, and have it waiting for your pickup (we closed at 9:00 PM). He came, was given a receipt, and he gladly paid our cashier.

People don’t forget.

Another example:
A regular customer (it really didn’t matter if she was a regular customer or not) calls me and says she is home sick with her kids and they are sick, too. Could Ben’s deliver? Of course, Mrs. Pollack. “l’ll get to your home within 30 minutes.”

People don’t forget.

And lastly, another example:
A synagogue calls me ten minutes before closing time and desperately pleads with me to cater their event … for 300 people. I called all the workers back into the restaurant and we were able to feed 300 people and get there 80 minutes later. I never asked the reason why the short notice, but I do know that not many businesses could turn on a dime and perform as we did that night.

People don’t forget.

Do you know how I know people don’t forget? When I asked my customers to support Ben’s and help get us through these challenging times … they came.

Thank you to all my friends and loyal customers for your support. We have been there for each other through good times and bad. We are stronger together and Ben’s appreciates you now more than ever.

See ya at the deli.

Simply,
Ronnie

September 2020 Ruminations & Ronnifications

I am imagining writing this blog in 1972 (an essay or missive back then) when this journey of mine first began.

Richard Nixon was the President with the promise of ending the Vietnam War. Chaos reigned in his administration which ultimately ended in his resignation.

I was struggling to pay the rent at that time; in fact, I once used the coin bank of the store to pay the landlord the monthly rent in rolls of quarters and dimes. That landlord saw something in me when I asked to postpone a scheduled increase in the rent, and he acquiesced until such time as I could afford to pay. Four or five months later, I called the landlord and advised him that I could pay the rent with the promise I wouldn’t pay the rent in rolls of quarters and dimes. He was quite surprised that I volunteered to pay the increase without any prodding. I guess his faith and trust in me paid off.

Fast forward to 2020. Donald Trump is the President who promises to end endless wars. Chaos reigned in his administration with key members of his cabinet and high-level advisors coming and going. Unfortunately, he was saddled with a war of another kind –– the Covid-19 virus.

Now, here we are, 48 years later struggling to pay the rent, we are duplicating what we asked for back then; this time not only a postponement of rent increases, but a reduction in the rent as well –– coming on the heels of a precipitous drop in sales revenues. And although in both cases it was exhausting and an uphill battle, I was 48 years younger back then and had a lot more fight in me. How this will end no one knows for sure but in less than 63 days we will learn who will be presiding over this country.

As I urge you to support your favorite local restaurant and delicatessen, I also urge you to vote and be counted.

See ya at the deli.

Simply,
Ronnie

August 2020 Ruminations & Ronnifications

I’d like to take a survey of my customers as they enter the restaurant. Here are the questions:

Since the shortage of toilet paper, and a lack of brand choices, is your tuchas (rear end) more sore, less sore, or about the same?

What did you do when your natural roots began showing gray? Let it grow out au natural, buy the dye and do it yourself (and pray that someone is home to help), or go to the colorist in the still of the night?

Did you re-acquaint yourself with those metal nail clippers that cost about a dollar? Or use a scissor? Or let them grow out like Vicki in Carle Place?

Did you try to play hair stylist and focus on the terrible job, sides being uneven? Or how much money was saved?

Are you wearing clothing that you hadn’t worn in five years? ten years? fifteen years? Or do you just wear the same clothes every day because no one is seeing you anyway?

Did you gain as much weight as I did? Five pounds? Ten pounds? Or fifteen pounds? Let’s see if we make a match.

Did it just seem that we have more garbage now than we had pre-pandemic? Or is it now filled with empty cardboard boxes?

Have you started to measure your life in how long you can make the toothpaste last? Or the mouthwash? Or the Clorox wipes?

Did you realize that almost all your needs can be met by Amazon? A delivery company — vertically integrated — and conglomerate reaching into all businesses, facets of life and your personal business?

Lastly, and less irreverent, what can we do to better serve you? What will it take for you to come and eat in our indoor or outdoor restaurants and feel safe doing so? What can we do to enhance your take out experience? We are here… and have been here working hard to safely serve you and help get through these challenging times.

Stay well and safe.

See ya at the deli,
Simply Ronnie

July 2020 Ruminations & Ronnifications

Where have all the years gone? I began this journey as an idealistic twenty-four year old hoping to satisfy anyone and everyone. And at the beginning of this journey I did but I had this incessant need to grow the business and to build on the last accomplishment. An overwhelming need to prove myself caused me to go home late at night, almost every night, and plan the next adventure on this journey; this was accomplished  after working 100+ hours per week for at least seven years.

At first, I enjoyed much success. I was told that everything I touched turned to gold. I knew better. And some of my  future failures proved me right. But I got up, dusted myself off, learned some very valuable lessons and marched on.

It is now forty-eight years later as an almost seventy-two year old continues on this fateful journey with a little less energy, a slower step in my walk, and a mind that is less sharp and nimble but with the ever present goal of pleasing our patrons… all while keeping over 300 employees employed and the tradition alive. My goal is now to try and get all our employees on the same page, by teaching and training while disseminating all I have learned on this Quixotic journey.

This is no easy task as we embark on our ever-changing new world. We will navigate with you and for you following new guidelines and protocols to provide the eastern European foods of our ancestors… all to be enjoyed in safety and comfort in the new normal.

See ya all at the Deli,
Ronnie

To Ben’s Deli Patrons

The letter below was received on Saturday, June 6th from Woolbright Development demanding the premium rents of April, May and June in the amount of $86,688.51 which is close to $30,000 per month (no small amount) without warning or discussion.

Is this how a 15 year plus tenant is treated who has never missed a payment in over 15 years, always paying their rent promptly?

I realize that neither Woolbright Development nor Ben’s created this Covid 19 pandemic. Woolbright is the only landlord (or agent of a landlord) who has chosen this path. Every other landlord has worked with Ben’s. This tells Ben’s that Woolbright doesn’t care about our tenancy now or in the future.

Aside from being unreasonable in my opinion, Woolbright is putting over 55 jobs in jeopardy during these turbulent times.

If as loyal patrons you feel that is it is unfair or premature to evict Ben’s, please call Woolbright Development at (561) 989-2240 and let them know of your disapproval.

Kosher Delicatessen & Restaurants are an endangered species; they will become extinct without patron intervention.

With best regards,
Ronnie Dragoon
CEO/Founder