In Verona, most new businesses start out in spaces that used to house other businesses and some of those old businesses had legacies that are best forgotten. The Corner Store Deli has taken over one of Verona’s oldest retail locations and, with several coats of fresh paint and some new lighting, made a clear statement that business will be different at the corner of Bloomfield and Park avenues.
Over the past six weeks Verona residents Jack Atmeh and Tom Bendtsen, and Tom’s son Sam, have remade the location of the former Verona Variety into an inviting spot for breakfast, lunch and snacks. “One guy who hadn’t been in the place in three years has now been in three times in the past two days,” says Atmeh. The partners toyed with other names for the place, but Corner Store Deli is a pretty good description for the location and the kind of business to be found there. “Park Avenue Cafe sounded a bit yuppy for the place,” Atmeh adds.
The partners are somewhat new to the deli world. Tom Bendtsen has run the upholstery and furniture refinishing business Hansen & Sorensen for many years and Sam Bendtsen, a former VHS football star, is now at student at Montclair State. Atmeh, as a partner in a gas station in Roseland that offers grab & go sandwiches, has the most food experience of the trio.
But they knew quite definitely what they wanted at the Corner Store Deli: Good food, reasonably priced. They are using all Boar’s Head brand cold cuts and the bread is from Nicolo’s Bakery in Montclair. “You can use the best cold cuts, but in New Jersey, if you don’t use the best bread people won’t eat it,” says Atmeh. An egg and cheese breakfast sandwich with coffee will cost you just $2.99 (take that, McD’s) and there will be daily lunch specials for just $5. “We’re trying to get the high school kids back in”, says Atmeh. He’s the father of a current VHS senior, softball player Jenna Atmeh, and a class of 2011 grad, son Jack Atmeh.
And that perspective on what high school kids want could be a big key to their success. The Bendtsen and Atmeh kids suggested a series of sandwiches that only a teenager–or someone with teenage metabolism–could love. Called Stacked Sandwiches, they feature improbable combinations like chicken tenders, fries and mozzarella sticks all together on the same roll.
You can start the day at Corner Store Deli before the sun is up. The place is open Monday to Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. On Sunday, the guys are now taking a well-deserved rest, though they reserve the right to open on Sundays in the future.
Congrats to Jack & Tom !! Good luck with your new venture…we love your coffee!!
I remember back in 50/60’s, this luncheonette used to be called Maxie’s. Good luck to the new owners. Great location. Kids can walk to it, as well their parents.