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THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre
THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre
Matt Walters will be taking over his father's deli, which has been a neighborhood staple in Douglaston for 42 years.

Matt Walters isn’t completely sure when he realized he wanted to own his father’s deli.

It could have been when he was 8 years old and cleaned out his parents’ kitchen cabinet so he could pretend to have his own store in the basement.

There was also a time, at one and a half years old, when his mother dressed him up for Halloween with a white shirt and black apron, like his dad’s deli uniform.

But one thing’s for certain, although he has two brothers, it was always decided that he would succeed his dad.

“There was never a question of who was going to take over either,” Matt said. “They knew I wanted to do it and they went their separate ways.”

He started working in the 42-year-old Douglaston Deli on Douglaston Parkway near Northern Boulevard 19 years ago, and will soon take it over from his dad, Richard, who plans to retire this year.

Matt has been learning how to operate the deli since he began his job there at 15 years old. Today the combo still works side by side at certain times of the day.

They don’t have defined roles, but the pair works in tandem to make sure customers receive their orders as soon as possible. With a certain quickness that comes with experience in the food industry, one takes orders, the other preps the food, which includes classic roast beef sandwiches and German style potato salad made fresh every day.

Photo courtesy Matt Walters 

While the neighborhood may have transformed in various ways since the deli opened, the store hasn’t changed much, and therefore holds a good relationship with the community. Matt plans to run the deli the same way as his dad.

“When people come in here they’re not a number,” Matt said. “We know them by first name and we’ve built up a lot of great relationships with customers around the area.”

Matt has no idea what’s in store for the next 42 years, but hopes the deli can stay in the family.

“I have a daughter that’s a year and a half old,” Matt said. “She might be the next owner of the deli.”

 

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