For the first time in over a year, people walking through the ice and snow along Gaskin Avenue can step into a small white building next to the Kenyon Bookstore and grab a cup of coffee or a sandwich — perhaps #7 (“Parents’ Weekend”), #65 (“Down and Out in Gambier”) or the much-loved #17 (“Page’s Locks!!!”), a spread of smoked salmon and cream cheese on pumpernickel bread. These and many other old favorites are once again available at the Gambier Deli, which reopened with much fanfare in its new location on Jan. 3.
Gambier residents, faculty, staff and students — both upperclass students who fondly remember the old Deli and first years who never knew it — have flocked to the Deli in earnest. “We’ve been slammed every day,” co-owner Jeanne Poland said.
The enthusiasm for the Gambier Deli’s return was obvious on Dec. 26, when a post on the Deli’s Facebook page announced it would open in a week. The post received 479 likes at the time of printing, and students, alumni and others rejoiced in the comments.
Located in the newly-constructed retail space on Gaskin Avenue, the reopened Gambier Deli contains many hallmarks of its previous location in the now-demolished Farr Hall. The tables and chairs are the same, a familiar shelf of wine bottles stands next to the register, and on the wall facing the door hang photos of the old Deli interior alongside the pediment that used to sit over the Deli’s Farr Hall entrance.
The menu will also be familiar to former Deli regulars. To reassure loyal customers pining for their favorite sandwiches, Deli staff decided to avoid drastic changes to their menu, according to Poland. However, there is one new, massively popular offering: avocado toast.
“[It’s] gone bonkers,” Poland said. “We were running out of avocados every day … I don’t know what it is about this campus and avocado toast.”
The Deli’s new building is brightly lit, with white walls and big windows. Not all are thrilled with this new look. “The lox sandwich is still good,” Astra Leinbach ’19 told the Collegian on Twitter, “despite the new venue looking so sterile and white I feel like I’m eating in an Apple Store.”
The lack of covered patio seating — a feature of the Farr Hall location — has also disappointed both staff and customers, according to Poland, but generally she likes the new space. She and the rest of the staff appreciate the extra light, more room to work in the back and an elevator, which they lacked in Farr.
After the Deli’s long hiatus, Poland is glad to be back in business. “It’s harder than I imagined to get back into such an intense pace where I’m working 18- to 19-hour days,” she said. “But it feels good seeing all the people come in and seeing all the happy faces and people thanking us. It’s been very rewarding.”