Twin City Island Deli has grand plans for Island
Story and photos by Alice Gerard
Boar’s Head deli meats and cheeses, which are sold at the newly opened Twin City Island Deli, 2092 Grand Island Blvd., “are the best that you can buy,” said owner James Zuckerman, who also owns Twin City Deli at 50 Main St., in the City of Tonawanda. He and the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce celebrated the new business with a ribbon-cutting on Monday.
To get the store fully stocked for business, Zuckerman approached various providers in Western New York.
“We reached out to Gramma Mora’s; we reached out to the Gondola Company; we reached out to Scime sausage on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo,” Zuckerman said. “So, by bringing all these products here that people don’t have to leave the Island for, it just allows them to not have to travel for these things, and have it at their access.”
In addition to deli products, the menu features a variety of sandwiches, which include specialty and create-your-own. Currently, there are no cooking facilities at the Grand Island location.
“We’re trying to make arrangements to cook,” Zuckerman said. “We can do things like Reubens, pastrami on rye, Buffalo chicken melt, steak hoagy on a Costanzo roll. We wanted to provide more of a New York-style deli sandwich with artisan breads than to use standard sub rolls for our sandwiches. We do have a shrimp po’ boy, which is on a Costanzo roll. These are all things that we have in Tonawanda.
“We have homemade, hand-cut fries with cheese curds and gravy, which people love. We have an abundance of everything. We have tater tots with chili cheese on them, and boom boom sauce. We really have a lot of different things that we can put together.
“Eventually, we hope to get to that point here. This was supposed to be a real deli, where you can get meat, cheeses, stuffed peppers, and sausage, things that you want to do for grilling. Our goal is to get things so we can make warm sandwiches, a variety of soups. In the winter, we do six to eight soups at any given time.”
Zuckerman, who also owns a construction business called Inline Design and Installation and Empire Boards & Bikes at 82 Webster St., North Tonawanda, said he first got interested in opening the Grand Island deli six or seven months ago. A contractor, he builds houses on the Island. As he was driving down Grand Island Boulevard, he saw the “For Rent” sign in front of Island Deli.
“I contacted Eric Berger, and I was interested in the beginning, but it seemed like it was too much to do at the time,” Zuckerman said.
A few months later, he noticed the “For Rent” sign was still in front of the deli.
“Same thing. Still available.” He said that, this time, he reached out to his friend, Kenneth Kobee, “and I asked him if he wanted to be a part of this with me. He had wanted to open a deli two years prior to me opening my first one. So, he had an interest in it. When I reached out to him and told him everything, we met up and finalized the deal.”
Four months later, the deli was ready to open.
“My daughter, Skylar, was willing to help me and just getting things expedited quickly,” Zuckerman said. “She did that for my first one. That was really it, other than just altering this space and taking over the equipment, which we bought from Eric Berger. Coolers and things like that. Within four months, we got all the stuff we needed, built a few walls, put a door in the kitchen, and updated it.”
Goals for the future include being able to offer food cooked on premises.
“I think that it’s just a matter of changing it up every once in a while, having special sales on different products, as well as specialty sandwiches,” Zuckerman said. “We did a specialty sandwich over in Tonawanda, called the chicken cordon bleu. It did well so, now, it’s on our menu. You have to heat those two elements (the pork loin and the ham).”
Also, he said he and his staff are working out a few bugs: “We’ve noticed here that people are on the edge of their seat for things. They want to come in and go out. But we’re not really considered fast food. We try to be more of a specialty place, a sandwich shop, and those things take a little more time.
Town Supervisor John Whitney, Highway Superintendent Richard Crawford, New York State Assemblyman Angelo Morinello, and Town Councilman Christian Bahleda enjoy the grand opening at Twin City Island Deli