November 2021 Ruminations & Ronnifications

Wow, it’s November already. I guess the cows are elated and rejoicing while the turkeys are seeing their futures come crashing down but no worry; we know at least one will be spared courtesy of a Presidential pardon. So what am I thinking about as we head towards the year 2022 which will be a special year for Ben’s. We will  be celebrating our 50th year in business. I started as I just turned 24 and now in 2022 I’ll be 74. Now that’s old (at least it used to be). In my early twenties I thought of the year 2000 and realized I’d be turning 52 years old and to me back then, that was old. Now, it’s a younger and more mature person. Is that called rewriting history? In any case, we’ll be celebrating all year long with give-aways, special discounted meals and other assorted prizes and maybe even a contest or two. We are proud that we prevailed through a financial crisis and this once in a lifetime pandemic (at least we all hope so). Would you believe that there is a shortage of turkeys for Thanksgiving? But no worry, we planned well in advance and scoured the market place but at a higher cost though we  raised the pricing for this holiday minimally so everyone is not left out to enjoy the festivities. And of course, we have Chanukah following on the heels of Thanksgiving and we’ll continue with our tradition of offering three dozen mini latkes (pancakes) and receiving the fourth dozen gratis (doesn’t that sound better than free).

See ya at the Deli,
Simply,
Ronnie

October 2021 Ruminations & Ronnifications

After forty-nine years in the delicatessen-restaurant business, dealing with vendors, employees and the public, it is an understatement to say that I have been both educated and enlightened. I rarely share my innermost thoughts with the public, or really anyone except my wife, yet – as I get on in years – I find that I am less inclined to be so constrained.

It has never been easy dealing with the public. In fact, the public can be challenging at times. I knew this long before my  son echoed those sentiments 25 years ago. Fast forward to Covid and the pandemic and it is only gotten worse.

But I – as an idealistic, people loving human being – that began in this business attempting to please all customers, will continue to try to please my customers.

After all, it is the customers that taught this low esteemed kid from Queens County in New York City to be tough and steadfast in my beliefs and handle every challenge with courage. It was an education I couldn’t have obtained in a classroom. Since my parents went through some rough times economically, I feel my inclination to please was borne out of these experiences. Have I always succeeded and do I make all customers happy? Of course not… but I’ll never stop trying. And as the Vice President of Ben’s reminds me all the time, “we are all flawed human beings.” And  “we can try but we can’t make everyone happy.”  But, I promise to  never stop trying.

I ask you to continue to be patient with us as we are dealing with rising food and paper costs, trying to keep our staff and customers safe, while taking your last minute orders, pick-ups, deliveries, and curbside requests. We are trying to execute without error and provide excellent customer service while having less help than we want, can retain, and were once accustomed.

Thank you for your business this past holiday season. Thank you to the employees who worked tirelessly to execute and make it happen. My debt of gratitude is boundless to all that keep the tradition and this 49 year old business alive, as I watch so many business around me fail.

See ya at the Deli,

Ronnie

September 2021 Ruminations & Ronnifications

I had an epiphany recently. After viewing workers on cell phones, talking and texting, I thought our generation was better than that but then, again, most generations think that the generation that followed was less than they were. The greatest generation was clearly those who preceded the Baby Boomers of which I am one. Now us baby boomers think that this new generation with their tattoos, body piercings is crazy. We may have had long hair (although I never did), full beards (which I had) but nothing a haircut and a shave wouldn’t change to be more compliant and acceptable to the previous generation.

So then, what was the epiphany? That each generation is no better or worse than the previous one, just different. And as much as we think each generation after us is different, we are the same… with each generation having their own music, their own lifestyle, quirks, and their own definition of right or wrong behavior.

With our best wishes for a Happy, Healthy, and Peaceful Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Please place your orders early… there are all sorts of shortages in the marketplace.

See ya at the Deli,

Ronnie

August 2021 Ruminations & Ronnifications

I am proud and excited to announce that my best daughter (my only daughter) Jaime has officially joined the Ben’s team. I always knew she had some restaurant blood coursing through her veins and have been waiting anxiously for her to decide when the time was right. I cannot think of a better time, than now, as we approach our 50th anniversary, and with my precious grandchildren in school full day, for her to take a position and help continue my legacy. My ultimate desire is to keep Ben’s and the tradition alive, well into the distant future.

She is taking over for her mom and my loving wife of forty-five years, Cindy… who worked alongside me for many years, which enabled me to think outside the box, and grow and build Ben’s.

Todd Silverstein (our Chief Operating Officer) and Gilah Salzano (our Vice President) and I look forward to collaborating with Jaime. Along with our hard work and the hard work of the General Managers and their respective teams, we will be better than ever.

Practically born in Ben’s in Baldwin and spending much of her life working in various Ben’s locations (Greenvale mainly) has prepared her for this new role. Jaime also holds a Master’s Degree in Education and taught in the NYC Public School System for ten years.

Presently, Jaime is working with our Marketing Manager, Al Olle, on a new menu design and will continue working with our management teams on aspects of media, customer feedback, and quality assurance initiatives.

Please join me and raise our glasses of Baron Herzog wine (kosher of course) –– as part of celebrating 50 years of Ben’s and its continuation with my bright and beautiful daughter (would a loving dad say anything otherwise) –– and shout out Le Chaim (To Life in Hebrew).

See ya at the Deli.

Ronnie, Todd, Gilah, Jaime and all the Manager’s at Ben’s.

July 2021 Ruminations & Ronnifications

To my dearest oldest and youngest friends and customers, we at Ben’s, thank you for helping us to continue the tradition began in October 1972. What seems like yesterday is extraordinary since it was over 48 years ago that this all began. I was a young 24 years of age then and now I am a young almost 73 years of age. For the few aches and pains and a few medical procedures that may have slowed me down, I may not be able to move mountains but I can still move hills. Of course, this getting older thing isn’t for the faint of hearted but it’s still a whole lot better than the alternative. At least that’s what my wife tells me.

Rather than involve myself in the insightful discussion about how we treat some of our furry friends better than we treat our fellow human beings, suffice it to say, I believe we all know when it might be a better time to bid our farewells. For right now, I have too much to do, to accomplish, and change, so that we have a better chance of entering our 50th year without rancor or regret and still proudly standing.

We are hard at work making improvements in order to make this happen.

Have you seen the Greenvale courtyard? If you haven ‘t please stop by. We have beautiful new outdoor furniture for new our outdoor table service. Like Greenvale, Woodbury, Carle Place, Bayside and Scarsdale now have daily outdoor table service. Please take advantage. While dining outdoors in Scarsdale, please take notice how we beautified this location with new landscaping. Our Manhattan store has reopened after months of closure. As you and your businesses return to the city, please stop by and think of us for all your catering needs. Lastly, our chefs have spent months, hard at work, creating our recently rolled out Plant Based Menu. Now, more than ever, there is something for everyone at Bens.

We Shall, Overcome has been my life’s work, my life’s passion and I refuse to give into these some late and difficult vagaries of life. As it was written at the turn of the 19th century and popularized by folk singers such as Joan Baez and Pete Seger, “We shall overcome”…

If any of our short term or long term friends and patrons have some great ideas for the future of Ben’s, please offer us your insight on how to keep us going while others like E.’J. Korvettes, Robert Hall, and Sears, have all bitten the dust.

Let’s help keep Ben’s alive.

See ya at the Deli.

Simply,
Ronnie

June 2021 Ruminations & Ronnifications

So there I sat at a manager’s meeting in 2005, listening to one General Manager after another talk about online ordering. I kept thinking about what online ordering meant and if it would be a viable ordering system for our customers, especially our older patrons. I imagined they would say… what line? online where? where is the line? So, I resisted.

Eventually my younger management team forced me to relent. And now, so many years later, I have watched online ordering grow and transcend into the fastest, smoothest, and most efficient way to execute a food order. If you have been ordering online, please continue… and tell two friends. If you have never tried it, try it, you will like it!

Our new and improved online ordering system lets you add points to your Ben’s loyalty card and redeem any monies or coupons earned. You can select, pick-up, curbside, or delivery. You also have the option to prepay before you enter the store or pay when you get here. Who knew this could be possible?  What a world we now live in!

I want to wish a Happy Father’s Day to all the dads and Congratulations to all the graduates. It has been a tough year and a time for pause and celebration. We look forward and are ready to celebrate with you in our stores and serving all your backyard BBQ and catering needs.

Again, thank you. However you’ve been patronizing us….in our dining rooms, our makeshift outdoor dining set ups,   in person at our deli counter, phone orders, or online,  we really do appreciate your business and loyalty.

See ya at the Deli.

Simply,
Ronnie

May 2021 Ruminations & Ronnifications

April showers bring May flowers. And more vaccinations. And Mother’s Day.

After all these years of working, interacting with our customers and employees, I have learned one important lesson. I have never stopped learning; I will continue learning until the day I pass the Ben’s torch to those younger with much more vigor.

I am certain they will do as good a job as I believe I have done over the years, maybe better. They are not tied to practices of the past. And they certainly know much more about this technological world than I could ever know, or truthfully, that I want to know!

I now have workers that make nicer platters, slice meat faster and know social cues and lingo better than me.

And my only advice to these future “bosses” at Ben’s is what I have been saying for years… and that is, bad bosses aren’t born, they are sometimes made… resulting from their experiences. Stay true to yourself and who you are and don’t let circumstances change you.

I also firmly believe that almost all employees come to work to do a good job and how we interact with the employees will determine their attitude and whether they do a good job or not. That is why I like to surround myself with those not afraid to confront their present boss — yours truly — and let me know when I step out of bounds.

I still wish I had the patience of a saint and the wisdom of Solomon… but I am still learning.

To all the mothers out there, come to Ben’s and enjoy our dinner specials and have a wonderful Mother’s Day.

See ya at the Deli.

Simply,
Ronnie

April 2021 Ruminations & Ronnifications

Who would have thought that this pandemic would take more than 500,000 American lives?

Who would have thought that we would need to quarantine and isolate, when those were words used to describe only those having smallpox or serving time in prison for some misdeed?

Who would have thought that we had to think twice about going to our favorite restaurant for a relaxing meal?

It has been a year now. I am finally seeing my customers, customers that I have not seen in over a year.

And nothing has warmed my heart more than to see them healthy and smiling, many of whom are eager to share how they have been vaccinated and chose Ben’s as their first dine-out experience in over a year!

Thank you for doing your part to keep us standing.

We are stronger and more appreciative than ever.

Hoping for a much better year as we leave the darkest of times.

See ya at the Deli.

Simply,
Ronnie

March 2021 Ruminations & Ronnifications

Time Marches on. As I was contemplating what to write about this month, my daughter inspired me to write about 10 things people might not know about me. She shared it on her Instagram. I thought I’d share it with you.

1) I was a VISTA (Volunteers IService To America) in Richmond, Indiana (now part of Americorps) prior to moving back to New York in 1970.

2) I marched in support of a proposed housing project in Forest Hills, Queens that was negotiated by a then thirty-eight year old up and coming attorney, Mario Cuomo, later Governor of the Empire State where his son is also now Governor and whose other son is a commentator on CNN.

3) I volunteered to work for the New York City Housing Authority during my last year in college and smoothed over relations between the Hispanic and Jewish families living in the Lower East Side Housing projects.

4) In 1975, I met my wife when I placed an advertisement in the local newspaper’s classified section (Newsday) for a server and hired Cindy. On our first anniversary with little money but a desire to surprise my wife I called the same newspaper — Newsday — and convinced them to run with a human interest story on our meeting. They chose to use it for marketing their Classified section. They even used my headline: “She found her job and her husband at Ben’s” in a full page ad that ran multiple times for a year.

5) I was a Treasurer and Board of Director member with the New York Delicatessen Dealers Association (now defunct).

6) I was a Secretary and Board of Director member of the Interfaith Nutrition Network (the INN) for close to twenty years before resigning.

7) We had the Mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani, cut the ribbon at the grand opening of Ben’s Manhattan on West 38th Street, just off 7th Avenue in 1996.

8) We had former First Lady, Hilary Clinton, cut the ribbon on the 2000 reconstruction of Ben’s in Wheatley Plaza in Greenvale, New York.

9) My two children, Jaime and Joshua, appeared in an advertisement (this one I had to pay for) exclaiming their Pop had the best kosher deli in the world.

10) I am currently preparing an ad for my beloved grandchildren, Ella and Leo, who will also exclaim their grandpa has the best kosher delis in the world.

Time indeed Marches on

Bonus:

11) Pastrami is my true love but for the month of March I eat Corned Beef.  Please come in and check out our Corned Beef and Cabbage and other Corned Beef specials, now going on  through St. Patty’s Day, March 17th.

See ya at the Deli.

Simply,
Ronnie

February 2021 Ruminations & Ronnifications

As we embark on a new year we have seen rioting at the Capitol, celebrated Martin Luther King Day and inaugurated a new president…

During this month of February, let’s remember George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Regardless of what your political beliefs are, we can all agree that hate, bigotry, and anti-Semitism do not represent our true American values. Let us each help to keep peace and create unity among us.

2020 has been a hard year for us all, but 2021 does bring immense promise.  With the vaccine distribution in progress and the new UV lights and Hepa Air filters added to our restaurants, we can ensure our employees and customers are kept as safe as possible.

Let’s hope we can all eat our pastrami, and corned beef in a more calm, healthy and peaceful surrounding especially while enjoying the upcoming Super Bowl. Please check out our Super Bowl specials, small group Sport Package and our delicious new wing flavors.

And I would be remiss, if I didn’t thank my loyal customers for their continued patronage and the dedicated employees who serve them.

See you at the deli,
Ronnie