Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 7:11 a.m.
Back in the original five burroughs--yes, we are counting South Florida as the sixth--every neighborhood has its deli. One would never have to travel far to find an awesome pastrami on rye, homemade turkey, corned beef, or lox. But for most native New Yorkers, things took a big change on the migration south.
What was once a five-minute walk, has become a 20-minute drive in the quest to find a taste of the homeland--and yes, we still do mean New York.
The Pomperdale Deli
is one local institution that has been serving northern migrants eastern European fare for over 30 years. In May of this year, self-described "deli-guy" Larry Bruskin came in and took over. And he's trying to restore this deli to its former self.
A Queens native, Bruskin grew up on deli-style food. According to him, "Back in Queens, every neighborhood had a deli like this. They all succeeded; you never had to go far for great kosher-style food. A lot of that was based on the quality of the food."
Bruskin is an alumnus of TooJay's Deli: he worked in management there for ten years before deciding to purchase the business. "It was a good education, in terms of running an operation like this," he says, "When I found this place, it was a good opportunity to own a place of my own. That was something I couldn't pass up."
As far as changes, Bruskin wants to keep much of the place the same. According to him, "For the most part, this places has a tradition all it's own. Most of the changes have been physical." Overall, he's been trying to clean the place up. Since taking over, he added a mural of the most famous delis in New York, Chicago, and even Los Angeles, "To remind people of what the old time deli used to be."
In terms of food, many of the recipes have been spruced up. He's taken the place back to the old family-style recipes with made from scratch ingredients and he has eliminated MSG from the soups. He wants to start adding in some of his deli favorites, such as kreplach: a meat and potato stuffed dumpling. He has also extended the hours to 6pm to allow customers to pick stuff up while heading home from work.
Over the past few years, the deli has been passed through multiple hands. The original owner, Larry Vogel, had the business for about 30 years--he passed away back in 2010. Since his death, the restaurant started to take a dip downhill. Bruskin is hoping to restore it and bring it back to its former glory. "I'm not looking to really change anything from the past," he says, "My goal is to keep customers happy and to fix a few things. If I can eventually compare myself to Rascal House
, that's the idea."