The New Deli: Then & Now
We’ve been around for awhile (since 1985). So… take a walk down memory lane with us- you might “remember when”; or… this may all be new to you! (Visit our photo gallery here…)
1985: We Open the Doors
Jen had started a cottage business in 1982, literally working out of her “cottage kitchen,” making hundreds of vegetarian burritos daily; Tom delivered product throughout the Bay Area. But, dreaming of a legit storefront, a space in the Del Monte Plaza seemed fitting, and Tom and Jen moved in.
We tried many things, discovering what worked, and what didn’t. An espresso machine (before Starbucks was everywhere) was a welcome sight to an elite few. Breakfast was served- bring on the pancakes made with fresh-ground buckwheat flour! Dinner was available too, featuring items like “Chicken Stuffed w/Wild Rice.”
Customers trickled in, but most folks didn’t know about us yet. Yelp wouldn’t exist for 19 more years, and people didn’t google “good places to eat in Pinole.” So we created pretty elaborate foods for the few that did show up. We even had carrot juice! (Before Jamba Juice, of course.)
The work spaces were sparse (Jen’s dad had not yet crafted the hanging shelf above the work tables). Most of the action happened in the wee hours of the morning, when a group of us made those hundreds of wholesale items that still kept The New Deli afloat.
2011: Out with the Old
We had started the business on a shoestring budget. We hadn’t previously worked any high-paying corporate jobs, so we didn’t have a giant nest-egg of savings. And we didn’t want to hassle with loans. Silly us. So we scraped together used fixtures and appliances and made it work.
But 26 years later, it seemed time for an upgrade. The giant, noisy drink case had to go. For years it had loomed in the corner, taking up valuable space. We replaced it with an extra table and chairs.
The deli case reeeally needed to go. No wonder it had been so cheap- a relic from the sixties, the front glass was damaged from the get-go, and it weighed a ton. We practically needed a semi to haul it outa there!
2011: In with the New
The vinyl tile flooring had held up pretty well, but it was good to see it go. We said good-bye to that, and the plain white sales counter too.
Removing all that old tile was a major job, but we were thrilled with the new ceramic tile that looked like wood. I highly recommend ceramic tile like this in high-traffic areas. Beautiful, durable, and easy to clean.
With the ancient behemoth deli case gone, we had space for a classy, smaller deli case, and an order counter custom-made by a friend of ours. Until he completed it, we made do with some plywood and tablecloths… (Did we mention that we’re silly that way? Probably totally against code, but it was only for a few days…)
From “Groovy Yellow” (2001), to “Modern” (2014)
We repainted the deli in 2001. Yes, it was quite cheery. But maybe not so stylish. It was a LOT of yellow–even the ceiling was yellow. The old sales counter still hadn’t been stained and updated, the fluorescent lights still glared, and the old chairs (from the eighties) didn’t quite go.
We re-stained the sales counter (the natural wood was hard to keep clean), and added bead board painted a soft pear-green color. Yum! We added soft track lighting, too, and a more neutral color on the walls. Real easy to hang out here now!
We love the new New Deli, and all the friends we could consult with on colors and styles and ideas, or who just helped out, to make it all happen. Thanks to all (and you, our customers- the reason we do all this)!
“In 1982, Yelp didn’t exist and people didn’t google ‘good places to eat in Pinole.’”
Jen Cote, owner of The New Deli Café