When Jon "Ben" Slashinski received that early morning phone call from a neighbor saying the street outside his store, the Riverline Deli, was flooded, all he could think about was the extensive work he and his family had just completed three months earlier.
“I thought we were going to find some water in the store, but we lucked out,” says Ben, 30, of a major water main rupture that occurred last Monday at the corner of Broad and Main streets in Riverton.
Luckily, not a drop flowed in.
Slashinski is the newest owner, along with his mother, Debbie Slashinski, 53, and his brother, Shawn Slashinski, 38, of the food store in the red brick building, which opened Sept. 1.
When the Slashinski family happened upon the deli in Riverton last summer, destiny prevailed. Debbie says she conceived of the idea of opening up a neighborhood delicatessen years ago—even though she has no food experience and has been working as a producer in the insurance industry since 1995.
“I saw a sign in the window that showed the place was for rent,” says Debbie. "I felt very strongly about it ... like it was something that was meant to be.”
In a matter of days, the Slashinskis had signed a lease with the owner of the building and were painting the store’s walls a Caribbean blue and setting up a flatscreen TV for patrons to enjoy while sipping coffee at the newly installed lime countertop.
The result is a revamped spot that’s brighter and cheerier than its predecessors.
The family says they're hoping to bring this deli back as a competitive food emporium in the area; the store has had a troubled past and has changed hands a couple times.
Formerly of Cherry Hill, the family moved two years ago into a six-bedroom 1900-era Colonial a short distance from the store in Riverton. Debbie’s husband, Stephen, 54, who is retired from the military, is currently in Afghanistan working as a site supervisor for AECOM.
The new owners are executing a slightly more expansive menu of easy-priced favorites. They'll continue to serve the typical bagel-with-cream-cheese fare, along with tuna salad, meatball and hot roast beef sandwiches served on bread from Sarcone’s Bakery in Philadelphia.
“Beef chili will most likely be available every day,” says Ben, who has held jobs as a certified trainer at Bertucci’s Restaurant in Marlton and was an assistant team leader for Ikea.
Debbie, who has a passion for baking, says most days they'll also serve sweets like cupcakes and specialty cakes, which needless to say have been popular with the neighborhood kids.
“The kids are great ... They’ll come in like those two and sit in the store and have a snack,” says Debbie, pointing to a couple of boys on a recent afternoon.
But will hearty sandwiches and tasty desserts be enough to sustain them?
Whatever led the other owners to close, the Slashinskis feel by focusing on customer service and offering savory foods, they can reestablish the deli once again.
So far, there hasn’t been much of a profit while the new owners reconstruct, says Debbie. “But for the moment, we’re staying afloat.”
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