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  • Writer's pictureLinda A Cowdrick

What happened to the Delicatessens of Suffolk County?

Updated: May 11, 2020

A recent conversation was had at the Ridge Country Deli about how the face of delis, have changed since the 1960's and 1970's. As a Long Islander, I felt I was raised with meals stemming from the local delis or bagel shops. My parents would pick up bagels on the weekends for breakfast. During my lunch period during high school my go to was the local deli where I would get a warm knish and Snapple for a few bucks.

When we go back in time in New York, especially western New York, we see the first delis were run by immigrants - German, Polish and Jewish mainly. There were also Italian butchers that may have extended their services to freshly cut delicatessen sandwiches on locally baked bread. As the railroad grew to Eastern Long Island we see some of these families moving their businesses to more rural areas. Nassau County being so close to the city saw immediate growth but how many of us understood the need for such delicious services in Suffolk County? Riverhead was a bustling town at the turn of the 20th century with many Polish families and Riverhead was a great center for community between the still rural farmland of Eastern Long Island and Nassau County. So, let's focus on what deli culture looked like in Suffolk County in the 1960's and 1970's and what happened to the different locations.

In 1893, the Downs General Store was built in Aquebogue by George Harvey Downs and remained a deli located at 518 Main Road unit at least 2013, however it is no longer there.

We find in 1902 the Sayville Delicatessen on the corner of the Old Montauk Highway and Sayville Blvd was opened by Henry Remmer, an immigrant from the north coast of Germany. He would make deliveries with his "fine spirited horse and handsomely painted wagon." He also bought the land that the Snapper Inn (opened in the 1880's and which Henry also ran through 1945) is on and still run by his descendants.

In 1909, Mrs. John Stansbury moved her restaurant and delicatessen store from the Stevens store on New York Ave in Huntington Village to the Hirschfeld building next door which gave her additional space.

In 1922 there was Dittes Store labeled "Huntington's Best Trading Company and Delicatessen Shop" located in Huntington Station.

In 1960-1968 there was the Bayport Delicatessen at 578 Middle Road in Bayport which closed its doors in 2013.

In 1957, there was Yonda's Delicatessen on Lakeland Ave in Sayville which later became known as the Lakeland Deli by 1960 and is now the Landmark Deli.

Landmark Deli photo source:

1953-1973 there was the Sayville Delicatessen located on the north east corner of Main Street and Railroad Avenue which also had its own bowling team a the Sayville Bowling Center. This deli has survived and is known today as the Sayville Gourmet Deli.

In 1961 there was the Hugo Lutz, Delicatessen on the corner of Sayville Blvd & Montauk Highway in Sayville. They offered boiled ham at 99 cents a pound and home baked pies for 6o cents!

There was the Wilan Delicatessen of Sayville in 1964-1966.

In 1964 there was the Wood Delicatessen, opened by John B. Wood, at 14 Washington Avenue, north of Montauk Highway in West Sayville. This location is now the European-American Deli.

In 1968 Winkler's Smithtown Delicatessen closed.

In 1969, there was the Airport Delicatessen at 1615 Smithtown Ave. in Bohemia, owned by Frank Anthony Santulli. The building is no longer there.

In 1963, the two daughters of Mr. & Mrs. William K. Roehrich of Hauppague were operating a delicatessen, R&P Food Shop, at the Ronkonkoma railroad station. William K. Roehrich also owned The Old Farm on St. James Rd. in Lake Grove. He sadly passed away in 2015, but left a legacy for sure.

In 1970, there was Pete's Modern Delicatessen located at 223-225 Montauk Highway in West Sayville. The deli is no longer there.

In 1971 there was the Idle Hour Delicatessen at 1500 Montauk Highway in Oakdale. The deli is still there but renamed the The New Idle Hour Deli.

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