"We're surprised and honored and happy," responds Brooklyn Deli owner Jody Harville to the news that her modest but stylish soup-and-sandwich shop breezed into first place in the Best Deli slot. It's no small feat, as this has often been one of the most hotly contested categories — and one that almost everybody has a fiercely held opinion about. How did the Brooklyn Deli do it?
"We attribute it to good customer service, consistency in the food and location," she says with a certain emphasis on that last factor. "The foot traffic we get in here is amazing."
After just six months at their new location off Monroe Street in the alley between First Avenue and the train viaduct, the Brooklyn Deli has become the cheerful, bustling and successful inner-city delicatessen envisioned by Harville and her skilled and dedicated crew.
"We definitely need to thank our customers who have been with us since the beginning at our old location. All of our regulars followed us over. That's really helped us become what we are."
For many in the downtown core, the short march to the Brooklyn Deli has become an almost daily ritual. And it gets pretty crazy in here between noon and two.
"But it all happens pretty quick," Harville says as she calmly smears mustard on a fresh hunk of rich dark rye. "My day starts by coming in here and getting all the food ready — all the soups and salads. Then you have that mad rush that just goes by so fast, and then it's all mellow, like now, you know? And we clean up and get ready for the next day."
Before she started serving sandwiches, soups and salads at the Brooklyn Deli, Harville had another way to get at people's choppers.
"I was a dental assistant, and that was eight hard hours of just nonstop work. People seem much happier when they come in here."
2nd: Domini's; 3rd: Gertrude's Deli