Ben’s has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. When our family moved to Long Island and my mother opened her bookstore a few doors down from the original Baldwin Harbor location, our family became instant regulars at Ben’s. Dine-in, take-out, and holidays were all Ben’s. If my mother wasn’t in the bookstore after school, she might have been sitting in Ben’s having a brisket sandwich or split pea soup served by Betty or Mike.
The workers and extended Dragoon family became the cast to the movie of my life, including characters that are still remembered by many of the long-time employees and customers. As a shopping center kid I was treated to VIP status. Manny & Tex let me come behind the counter & make my own frank with ketchup, very exciting to a 7-year-old! Sometimes I was sent over to ask for some change, and it was Dottie who taught me how to count the change back from a broken $20 bill. Of course, the young counter guys like the Judge were early crushes for me & my friends.
Cindy & Ronnie were the celebrities, always running around, engaged with customers, and building the company brand. My father talked books and history with Ronnie while he sliced away, never missing a beat. And Cindy, well, she was then and is still now the coolest! Over the years their generosity and loyal friendship has been unmatched. I am extremely lucky to have made a second family out of my employers.
I could never have known then that Ben’s and these fabulous people would play such a huge part in my life. From a 19-year-old cashier and hostess to floor supervisor, assistant manager, general manager, and catering director I worked and learned our best practices from my manager, Todd (now the COO), in 6 locations in New York & Florida. When I moved back north 5 years ago, Ronnie created a new role for me in several areas of the business to assist him directly. I am happy and grateful to have such a long career where I am so valued and appreciated.
Each week I visit the stores, and a few times a year I visit Boca Raton. Each time I am thrilled to see our regular customers, my coworkers and smell those delicious Ben’s Foods. Maybe next time, I will see you there at the deli!
See you at the deli!
Ben’s Foundation Coordinator