When I was a Vista volunteer in 1970 with a beard developing and a disappearing hair line – a harbinger of things to come – we VISTAS (Volunteers in Service to America) all gathered to create a sense of team. I turned down smoking a joint, and when they offered me a beer, I said no thank you. They couldn’t imagine this young man from Queens County wouldn’t smoke marijuana or drink alcoholic beverages. Really, they exclaimed! No alcohol? No drugs? I just nodded my head in some sort of shame. The peer pressure was difficult to handle, but I stood tall and wouldn’t let anyone or anything change this progressive mind (with a conservative life style)… even though I was the lone dissenter.
I guess that is why I own a Deli. I went against the advice of many. My best friend through High School and College told me I was wasting my life. He said I was smarter than this (this meaning the business). My parents laughed at me and told me I was crazy to embark on this endeavor. I didn’t blame them; after all, it’s not the typical path of an educated young man along with a tour as a Vista Volunteer after college. And to add insult to injury, the bank was hesitant to give me a business loan because, my first location that I took over as a kosher delicatessen, already went bankrupt twice.
So I showed them… or did I?
My best friend is collecting an extremely nice pension as a retired professor of Biology and I am still toiling in the proverbial trenches. Another friend from my Vista days also retired from SUNY as a professor of sociology.
Although I continue to work extremely hard, I do take pride and take great satisfaction that I survived and continue surviving when so many kosher deli’s failed and continue to fail all around me. My customers have a need that I am able to fill. I provide jobs for over 320 employees.
I guess if I had to attribute something to my success and survival it is that I always followed my dreams and my gut and never fell to peer, employee, landlord or distributor pressure. And let’s be honest, I’m here because of you – our loyal customers who pay all our wages. I did it my way for almost 45 years; and thank you for letting me serve you. May we continue our relationship for years to come. I wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year.
See ya at the Deli,