A Reflection on what it means to be in the kosher deli business:
Finding my wife in a Newsday ad for servers. On our wedding anniversary, our love story wound up in Newsday, with the headline: “She found her husband and her job through Newsday Classifieds.”
Going on a date and getting back so late that I chose to sleep in the restaurant’s bathroom with linen tablecloths as my mattress. This was so I could be up at 4:00 AM to start the next day’s catering orders.
Having to open the restaurant at 4:00 AM on my wedding day before going home to Queens to put on a tuxedo on. Then getting married (with about 50 guests), only to go back to the restaurant to “make” the register (reconcile). All that so I could deposit the day’s profits at the bank’s night drop (still with my tuxedo on).
Using about $900 of our wedding presents (representing about 60% of our wedding gifts) to purchase and install a new floor for the restaurant.
Not taking a day off for seven years, except for the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and eight days of Passover.
Having to walk three miles through a blizzard to open the restaurant.
Cutting my finger on a knife during lunch and, being the only counter person that day, putting a stack of dinner napkins around the wound with scotch tape. Then, holding it in place with a glove as I continued to work.
Working through a 104-degree fever because I was the only worker behind the deli counter that day.
Helping the young employees with their homework (high school and college).
Mentoring a whole cadre of young people who worked for me, although I prefer to say worked with me (only a few years older than these workers). And watching them become doctors, lawyers, judges, sheriffs and police officers.
Getting stuck on Sunrise Highway with my wife on New Year’s Eve after working 48 hours straight in order to deliver hundreds of catered trays to parties. The van we were driving broke down!
Having to buy $25 worth of used furniture (plus a mattress on the floor) for our first apartment together. Because, the deli wasn’t exactly an overnight success!
There are so many more stories about this journey and, as soon as I remember them (I am fast approaching 70 years of age), I will be happy to share!!!!!!
See ya at the deli!