Main Street Deli combines couples passion for ministry and a market place
© Virginia News GroupHarry Luis and Josephine Rivera have brought a staple of New York City to Main Street in Culpeper.
The Main Street Deli and Market Place opened last month offering takeout food featuring Boar's Head meats, soups, salads and sandwiches as well as a variety of condiments and complementary items for home dining including homemade jams, salsa and salad dressing.
Although the deli currently has no no place for sit-down eating, the Rivera's hope to see that change this spring.
“We are working on plans to put in a deck on the south side of the deli from front to back,” said Harry. “We will have tables, chairs, umbrellas... it will be a nice place outside to sit from April to September.”
With the opening of Downtown Deli, the Rivera's hope to combine two of their passions – food and faith.
“I have been in the food business 25 years,” said Harry. “I love food and I love people and this puts those two things together.”
Josephine adds that the two also love the Gospel – they are members of the Lower Eastside Fellowship in Manhattan – and are involved in various mission projects.
Josephine said they wanted to move to Virginia because they have a daughter living in Manassas.
“We looked and looked there and couldn’t find a place,” she said. “There just was nothing we felt we could call home.”
Harry finishes the story.
“We had looked at about 44 homes and then we walked into a house in Culpeper,” he said. “Josephine literally took 20 steps inside, looked at me and said 'this is our home.'”
Harry said that even in a tough economy he was confident their experience – and their faith – would enable them to be successful in Culpeper.
'We want to offer good quality food and also contribute to the Culpeper community,” he said.
The Rivera's employ seven people, one of whom is general manager Ron Jettmar.
“They came here looking to open a deli and were looking for someone to run it on a day-to-day basis since they travel a lot with their mission work,” Jettmar said. “I have been in the restaurant business for 37 years. I learned from the bottom up, washing dishes.
“I was most recently a manager at Foti's for a little over year. I took a hiatus and found Harry and Josephine. They were living down the street.”
Jettmar said the deli is a work in progress.
“We wanted it to have a rustic, homey look,” he said. “We plan to keep improving things here and there.”
Harry gave an example.
“A gentleman we know is being paid to knock down a barn,” he said. “We were able to use some of the wood for the shelves.”
Harry said he stresses top of the line customer service at the deli.
“Everybody works together here. It is pleasant to come in, warm and homey.”
Main Street Deli is in the former location of Bella Mia's, which was damaged by the magnitude-5.8 August 2011 earthquake.
In addition to take out, Main Street Deli also delivers and does catering.
“Culpeper is a beautiful community,” said Josephine. “We love the history.”
Concluded Harry, “The business owners have welcomed us here, we feel so blessed.”