Finding a reliable place for a bite to eat on an industrial stretch of Flushing Avenue separating Williamsburg and Bushwick has long been a challenge.
Few restaurants are interspersed between furniture-making factories, waste management offices, and food distributors that close after dark, leaving the street a lonely windswept corridor.
Deli operators Andrew Holt and Chris DeMarco hope to give residents a reason to come to Flushing Avenue and linger for a while.
Their new, still unnamed deli and general store on the first floor of the East Williamsburg mini-mall, The Loom (1087 Flushing Avenue), is set to open this weekend, offering a range of sandwiches, soups and refreshments.
“We want this to be a classic deli, a hangout where you can have a coffee or a beer with your sandwich,” said Holt.
The atmosphere of the space can be credited to DeMarco’s discriminating scrounging. Trips to bankrupt warehouses in Mechanicsburg, PA, unearthed a four-foot butcher’s block that DeMarco sanded down over a day and polished with olive oil, as well as two wire lamps, a hospital gurney that has been sanitized, and a mechanical scale for weighing meat by the slice, which made over fifty years ago in Indiana.
“I like the look of a mechanical scale. The most expensive meat at the time they made the scale was $3.20 per pound,” said DeMarco, pointing to the hashmarks on the scale.
Products are slowly filtering into the store this week. As of March 2, the store had the usual array of household supplies and bulk goods including Gillette shaving foam, Raid, Draino, and a dozen containers of original Pringles potato chips for sale on eight-foot high steel shelves. Tables and chairs for customers are on their way too, as are more sodas and juices, but the real, bread-and-butter, meat-and-potatoes items at the deli will be… well… bread and meat.
“I really want to have a good pastrami Reuben,” said Holt. “If it’s corned beef, a friend will be teaching us how to bring our own beef.”
Holt and DeMarco promise an array of tasty, affordable sandwiches ranging from PB&J and grilled cheese pressed on a panini press, to turkey clubs and Italian hoagies. Much of the turkey and beef will come from Boar’s Head, whose distribution center is one block away off Morgan Avenue, though the prosciutto and other specialty meats will be imported.
DeMarco will also be making pasta to order with a hand-cranked Italian pasta maker and fixing chicken noodle soup every day from scratch. Beer and wine will be sold on the premises as soon as their liquor license is approved and DeMarco is exploring ice cream and homemade jams and jellies in the summer.
Holt and DeMarco understand the challenge of opening a new store in still-developing East Williamsburg and Bushwick, with a number of bodegas and restaurants nearby. Yet they hope to create a deli that is inviting, affordable, and open late.
“At one point, you want cheap food, but at the other point, you want really good food too,” said Holt.
Holt and DeMarco’s deli and general store is located on the corner of Flushing and Porter Avenues at 1087 Flushing Avenue, at The Loom. For more information, visit http://bushwickdeli.blogspot.com.